Vineyards, like great wines, often get better with age. But they need to move with the times. At the Cave de Tain, a cooperative winery in Tain l’Hermitage, Terres de Syrah invites the public into its vineyard. “The northern Rhône Valley is an important part of French wine history, but we want to bring wine-making to the wider public in a way that’s up-to-date,” says Terres de Syrah events manager Paola Pano. “I know visiting a winery can sometimes be intimidating, it’s often seen as very ‘exclusive’. It really shouldn’t be!”

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Just an hour south of the city of Lyon, you can take a Segway tour of the Cave de Tain, drive your own buggy across the stunning terraces, or take a tasting tour on a boat down the river Rhône. In the summer, there are also cultural events on the site. If you really want to take it up a level, you can take a number of courses about Northern Rhône wines and take exams: for example, via the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

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As a cooperative winery, Cave de Tain is owned by 260 vintners who consider themselves a part of an extended family and produce Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph or Hermitage wines, to name a few. The winery’s tourism department, Terres de Syrah, is run by Marie-Josée Faure, a WSET educator and second-year Master of Wine student who aims to become the second French woman to receive this title. Alongside her, three more women work to organise the visits and tastings at the Cave de Tain. “It’s pretty unusual, I suppose, as the business does tend to be male-dominated: but it’s moving forward, and we want to be a part of that.”

Terres de Syrah Winery Gate

“We come from different areas. Some of us grew up with winemaking, others didn’t. Yet, we all share one big passion: wine,” Pano explains. “Kids in this part of France are allowed to drink wine before they’re allowed to drink coffee!”

Terres de Syrah has a vision for the events on the estate: “We want guests to feel they’ve spent a few hours with us in a bubble suspended in time. We can pretty much offer anything they can dream up.”

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