There is little doubt what famous export people associate with the Bordeaux Region of France, but a new museum – La Cité du Vin (The City of Wine) – opened this week to ensure people visiting learn about and toast the area’s eponymous product. The City of Wine facility was developed to present winemaking’s wealth, cultural journey and difference from Bordeaux as well as wine regions throughout the world.
The City of Wine offers visitors change to experience immersive and sensory experiences from permanent displays, temporary exhibitions, and three tasting areas featuring the bottles from the best wine regions in France and globally (and a range of grape juices for smaller visitors). The permanent La Cité du Vin tour offers a simulated boat ride as a fantasy journey through time to learn about wine’s heritage from 6,000 B.C. on, its influence on different civilizations, geographical elements as well as its cultural and religious uses. There are also thematic workshops for Oenophiles and novices to educate about the art of wine tasting as well as the various colors, textures, smells and flavors of wine.
The reportedly $92-million to build museum is visually stunning. The architecture and interior were designed to remind people of swirling wine in a glass, with sunlight bouncing off the exterior like light on a crystal decanter. The museum press release describes the design as “horizontal and vertical lines … linked in a unique continuous motion.” Even the display stands are shaped like wine bottles to keep the visual theme throughout.
The visual highlight from the outside and interior is the Belvedere, a 35-meter high area on the eighth floor of the facility. The 360 degree, panoramic view lets visitors see Bordeaux (which is about 6 hours by car southwest of Paris), the area’s vineyards and the surroundings along the Garonne river and near the Bay of Biscay.
To add to the experience, there are a variety of wine and dine options. The restaurant supposedly has 50 different wines available by the glassful and a phenomenal wine cellar, as one would expect in Bordeaux. There is even historical reenactments of Voltaire, Churchill, Napoleon and others discussing their favorite vintages.
The signage in the City of Wine is trilingual – French, English and Spanish (Bordeaux in only 2.5 hours by car from the Spanish border). The museum’s tour information is available in eight languages: French, Italian, English, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, German, and Chinese.
There are other wine museums, winery tours, and countless wine-tasting venues around the world from Macau to Greece to Ireland to Umbria. However, for those visiting the Bordeaux region to check out the vineyards or toast with their famous output, the City of Wine offers a starting or ending point for the journey through the area. It should be noted that there is an older Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum (Musée du Vin et du Négoce) housed in a historical building that dates back to the 1700s.
Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss
La Cité du Vin
Forbes: World’s First Wine Theme Park & Museum Opens in Bordeaux
BBC: France opens ‘Guggenheim of wine’ in Bordeaux
Photo courtesy of La Cité du Vin ©Anaka – La Cité du Vin