Terra Vinea

Useful Information

Location: Portel-des-Corbières. A9 exit Sigean.
(43.051575, 2.927616)
Open: FEB to JUN daily 10-18, tours at 10:30, 11:15, 12, 13:30, then every 45 minutes, last entry 16:30.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19, tours at 10:30, 11:15, 12, 13:30, then every 30 minutes, last entry 17:30.
SEP to DEC daily 10-18, tours at 10:30, 11:15, 12, 13:30, then every 45 minutes, last entry 16:30.
Closed 25-DEC, 01-JAN.
Fee: Adults EUR 12.90, Children (13-17) EUR 11.40, Children (5-12) EUR 7.40, Children (0-4) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 10.90, Student (-25) EUR 10.90, Disabled EUR 10.90, Unemployed EUR 10.90.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 7.60, Children (13-17) EUR 5.90, Children (5-12) EUR 4.90.
Classification: MineGypsum Mine SubterraneaCellar
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightSon et Lumière
Dimension: T=16 °C.
Guided tours: L=800 m, D=90 min.
Accessibility: no, special tours available by reservation
Address: Terra Vinea, 15 chemin des Plâtrières 11490 Portel-des-Corbières, Tel: +33-468-458768, Info: +33-468-262224.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


2019 son et lumiere (sound and light show) inaugurated.


Terra Vinea, Languedoc, France. Public Domain.

Located in the middle of the wine growing region of Languedoc-Roussillon, not far from the Mediterranean Sea the small village Portel-des-Corbières has a quite unique geaology. It is located ad the foot of a gypsum hill. The gypsum is useful for many purposes and so it was mined for a long time. After a start in the form of open pits or quarries the mining soon went underground and the result were huge chambers of trapezoid form. The abandoned mines were reused for storing wine barrels of the Rocbère winery, an obvious secondary use in a wine growing area. The Terra Vinéa is a sort of wine centered Visitor Center, not a winery. The tour includes the ride on a sort of train to the entrance of the underground mine, the tour with son et lumière (light show), and a detailed introduction into the history of wine growing in France. The tour ends with a wine tasting.

The underground galleries are a result of mining, the trapezoid shape was intended to give them the best possible stability so it was possible to mine huge chambers without the danger of collapse. The access tunnels are different. They were built with a simple rectangular profile, which is not that stable. For the stability the tunnels are supported by wooden beams. However, the site is not operated as a show mine and they give no information about the mining history.

The huge chambers are used for the storage of wine, the grey gypsum is an ideal canvas for the light show. There are some faked Roman and Medieval buildings underground, obviously a try to make a sort of wine theme park. Most visitors are not really impressed, and the tourist train is only impressive for small children. Outside there is a shop for local wines and other local specialties, wine tasting, a bar, and a restaurant. So all in all the experience is a little artificial.

And the name Terra Vinéa was obviously not a good choice, intended to mean world of wines it actually doesn't. It is fake Latin, which can only be translated vineyard land, but translating vineyard land into Latin would be vinea terram. World of wines would actually be de vinis mundi. So, the name actually makes no sense, but at least it works well with google.