The most serious wine center in the South of France is the southern portion of the Côtes du Rhône, home to the muscular reds of Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Cairanne, and of their more famous neighbor Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Nearby Beaumes-de-Venise is famous for its sweet, light muscat. Not to be overlooked are the wines of the Côtes du Ventoux and the Côtes du Luberon.
You can visit most vineyards without an appointment. If you find touring vineyards slightly intimidating or impractical, you can still purchase wines from the region: most wine-making towns have a shop where local wines are sold at the producer’s price, with no markup.