Burgundy wine history is long and winding, boasting a thousand-year legacy. Today, Burgundy’s vineyards exceed the expectations of even the most sophisticated wine lovers from around the world.
The breathtaking Burgundy region of France is world-famous for its sumptuous wines that have been carefully concocted and improved upon by winemakers over centuries. The vinicultural history in Burgundy dates back to the Roman Empire, marking it as one of the very first regions to cultivate wine.
Through the years, Burgundy has crafted a multitude of wines with an impressive range of grape varietals and production techniques.
From the robust Pinot Noir to the refreshing Chardonnay, every grape variety has its own distinct flavor profile that makes it one-of-a-kind. In this article we will explore the legacy of winemaking in Burgundy and discuss some of their top varieties today. We’ll also uncover what renders these wines so special compared to other regions’ products and why enthusiasts relish them all around the world.
To learn more about Burgundy wine history, book your next Burgundy wine tour on Winalist! An original way of travel in the region while tasting the best wines directly from our partner winegrowers.
Burgundy wine history origins
After conquering Gaul in 52 BC, the Romans introduced their vines and established vineyards before cultivating them over many years. Additionally, the conquered Gauls created the barrel; a tool that sparked an incredibly prosperous business venture.
During the Middle Ages, the wine growers of that period uncovered better soil and tactics to make their vineyards flourish. When Rome collapsed in the 5th century, religious figures assumed control over winemaking. As a result, several abbeys were established such as Cluny which was founded in 909.
Ever since the French Revolution, Cistercian religious orders in Chablis and Clunisians in Mâcon started to produce wine beyond what was necessary for mass consumption. This enabled them to distribute their wines across Europe. These practices were continually refined throughout the winemaking process, leading Burgundy to become a renowned location of breathtaking vineyards.
Two Burgundy wine history concepts: Climats and Clos
Crafted by holy figures, the “climates” designate a specific parcel of vines that possess distinct features such as grape variety, expertise, and soils. A remarkable 1,463 climates exist in Burgundy! For security purposes against wild animals that could potentially harm the vineyards’ grapes; these “closed” areas are enclosed behind walls.
Burgundy wine history’s Age of Enlightenment.
In 1787, President Thomas Jefferson’s visit to France marked the start of America’s appreciation for Burgundy wines. But it was during the Age of Enlightenment that a true revolution in winemaking occurred; new techniques were developed and perfected, resulting in higher production levels and an improved overall quality. This period became one of immense importance within Burgundy wine history.
As the 19th century began, science had made great strides to improve wine-making and elevate its quality. In 1868, Doctor Jules Guyot’s progress in vineyard management was widely acclaimed by vintners. Subsequently, merchants purchased wholesale from producers before aging it themselves. Unfortunately in 1875, this prosperous industry collided with an unstoppable enemy – phylloxera – a pest that threatened their vines’ existence. In 1888 Burgundy vintners beat back the hazard through grafting techniques; preserving the integrity of their cherished product once more!
During the 20th century, local wine brotherhoods and producers recognized the need to unite into cooperatives to safeguard their vineyards. This period of enlightenment brought about a variety of changes for Burgundian vintners, such as the replacement of wooden tools with metal ones; manual presses becoming motorized; fermentation tanks constructed from stainless steel rather than wood or clay; and an overall enhancement in filtration techniques. The creation of the glass bottle allowed for better conservation of the wine by developing more powerful aromas.
Furthermore, winemakers began experimenting with a variety of grapes to produce complex and flavorful blends that are now globally renowned. Additionally, crop rotation methods were developed which permitted for higher yields per acreage without compromising the quality or taste – completely revising how wine was produced forever by enabling mass production of high-quality wines with unique character and flavors retained. Today, the majority of these techniques are transmitted to visitors from all over the world thanks to the strong development of burgundy tourism.
Burgundy Tourism: today’s vineyards
Today, wine tourism in Burgundy is expansive. Burgundy’s wine region encompasses and boasts:
- 84 designations of controlled origin
- 3,800 estates and 250 trading houses
- 29,500 hectares in total
- Climates listed as World Heritage UNESCO
- Several wine routes, including the famous Route des Grands Crus.
To taste all these oenological riches, and learn more about one of the greatest stories of French wines, Winalist gives you access to a whole range of activities on the theme of wine and culture.
Bourgogne tourism are two words that go well together – just as Pommard and meat. Thanks to its many activities (walks, meals, wine workshops, tours & tastings, etc.), the Burgundy Wine Route is the ideal way to discover a region with the men and women who shape this terroir.
Our winegrower partners are delighted to welcome you for convivial moments, ranging from an hour to share a cuvée to a complete weekend with accommodation to discover a region. Book in a few clicks your wine tourism activity in Burgundy.
See you soon on the Burgundy wine route & beyond!
How many wine producers are in Burgundy?
Burgundy is known to be an area of rather small producers. However, all together there are over 4,000 individual domains, and 85% of them farm less than 10 hectares.
Why should I visit Burgundy?
Even if you are not close to being an expert in wine and wine tastings, Burgundy offers you most beautiful landscapes, prestigious architectural designs in typical cities likes Dijon and Beaune. On top of the region’s beauty, let us just say how amazing local gastronomy is… Are you sure you don’t want try any of their local cheese paired with that wine?
When should I go to Burgundy?
Any time is a good time to visit Burgundy. However, should you have to opportunity, try coming between September and November to experience the amazement of vineyards under autumn colors.