The history of the vineyards

Vineyards were first brought to Gaul by the Greeks in the 6th century BC. Around AD 50, the Gauls began to cultivate the vines in Burgundy and soon their production reached a standard to rival Italian wine. The oldest traces of vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, dating back to the end of the first century, have been found in a place called “Au-dessus de Bergis”.

The Middles Ages – Migration of vines to the hills and birth of the clos

From the sixth century, grape vines began to migrate from the Gallo-Roman villas on the plains to the hills. This migration was strongly encouraged by the Burgundian Laws of the sixth century that granted ownership to anyone who planted vines on uncultivated land. The birth of the clos: these dry-stone walls, crowned with several layers of flagstone and slightly inclined to facilitate the flow of rainwater, were built to protect the vines and, in particular, to prevent animals from entering the vineyards. They were also built to mark out the property of private individuals, religious institutions, dukes of Burgundy and kings of France. The most famous are the Clos de Bèze in Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos de Tart in Morey-Saint-Denis, Clos de Vougeot and the Clos de Saint-Vivant in Vosne-Romanée.

Clos de Bèze – The oldest clos in Burgundy

The history of this clos can be traced back to the founding of the abbey of the same name (Saint-Pierre de Bèze, 30km north-east of Dijon) in the year 630. According to old documents, Amalgaire, Duke of Burgundy, endowed the monks of the abbey with land and plots of vines within the township. It wasn’t until the 13th century that the clos expanded into the 15 hectares of land that it covers today.

Clos de Vougeot – Gem in the crown of Côte de Nuits

After its construction by the monks of Cîteaux starting in 1098, a few plots of land and a small cellar were donated to the abbey between 1112 and 1115. The clos as we know it was first mentioned in documents in 1212. Following several purchases and exchanges, the monks managed to gain a monopoly over the clos. They constructed buildings around two courtyards, which served as places of both residence and work for the lay monks (those responsible for manual labour). The large cellar and dormitory date back to the 12th century, while the vat room in its current form was rebuilt around 1476-1477. The two wings of the castle were built during the Renaissance and are visible from the main road. This transformed the farm building into a prestigious residence for the abbots of Cîteaux.

From the Middle Ages to modern times Creation of the vineyards

Since the end of the Middle Ages, the spiritual authorities and the passing of time have worked together to refine the practices and reputation of Burgundy wines. In 1375, Philip the Bold outlawed the cultivation of the Gamay grape in favour of Pinot Noir, which was of a higher quality. In 1416, King Charles VI issued an edict that established the boundaries for the production of wine in Burgundy, from Sens to Mâcon. From the 18th century, the face of viticulture began to change with the founding of Burgundy’s first wine merchant, Maison Champy in Beaune. In 1847, King Louis Philippe granted the township of Gevrey the right to add the name of its famous cru, “Chambertin” to its name. Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-Saint-Denis and Vosne-Romanée all followed suit. In 1855, Dr Jules Lavalle established the Burgundy wine classification system in his book, Histoire et statistique de la vigne et des grands vins de la Côte-d’Or (a history and study of the vineyards in the Côte-d’Or). Four categories were created: Tête de cuvée, including Romanée-Conti, Clos Vougeot, Chambertin and Chambertin Clos de Bèze…Première cuvée, Deuxième cuvée, Troisième cuvée.

Contemporary times – Mutations

The vineyards underwent major upheavals in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1875, phylloxera, an aphid native to America that attacks the roots of the vine, causing it to die, came to Burgundy. From 1888, French vines were grafted onto American plants that were resistant to the pest. The physiognomy of the vines changed drastically: previously planted in groups together, the vines were now planted in rows, as the new plants did not thrive under the conditions created by the old vine layering technique. Later came the development of machinery, which led to the gradual disappearance of ancestral techniques. Fraudulent practices resulting from a lack of regulations on the origin of wines as well as the First World War and the Great Depression led to the introduction of a system for registered designation of origin. In 1919, the Law for the Protection of the Place of Origin was passed, and on 30 July 1935, the four AOC (certification for protected designation of origin) categories were created: Appellation régionale, Appellation communale, Premier cru, Grand cru.

24 grands crus

The Côte de Nuits is home to the majority of the Grands crus of Burgundy: 24 of the region’s 33 Grands crus come from here. Each of these world-class wines are an expression of the unique character and excellence of the plots on which they are grown.

Rare and precious

53% of Burgundy’s wines carry the “Régionale” classification, 46% “Village Premier Cru” and just 1% “Grand cru”. Suffice it to say that Grands Crus are both rare and valuable. Each of these wines combines excellence with ageing potential, complexity with sophistication. Each Grand Cru is the purest expression of the unique character of the plot on which it is grown; only the name of the Climat (a term used for the terroirs of this region) is given on the label, rather than the name of the village (e.g. Corton, Montrachet, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Clos de Tart, etc.).


There are nine Grands Crus over 85 hectares in Gevrey-Chambertin, making it the village with the highest number of these classified wines in Burgundy. Chambertin and Clos de Bèze are some of the oldest Climats in the region. Chambertin was known to be the favourite wine of Napoleon himself! Thanks to this historical reputation, Chambertin joined the seven other Grands crus from the surrounding area after its classification in July 1937.

CHAMBERTIN : 13,62 ha


Morey-Saint-Denis is home to five Grands crus. Clos de Tart (a monopole, or area controlled by a single winery), classified as a Grand Cru in 1939, was established in 1141 by the Cistercians of Tart. There have been only four other owners since this date. Clos Saint-Denis, established in the 11th century by the Canons of Vergy was classified in 1936. Clos de la Roche was classified in 1936 too, while Clos des Lambrays was classified as a Grand Cru much later, in 1981. Bonnes-Mares, whose vineyards are mostly found in the township of Chambolle-Musigny, was classified in 1936.

CLOS DE TART : 7,31 ha
CLOS DE LA ROCHE : 16,84 ha


Chambolle Musigny, located at the heart of the Côte de Nuits, is home to two Grand Crus. Musigny can be found above the Clos de Vougeot between the Premiers crus Les Amoureuses and Les Échezeaux, almost 280 metres above sea level. Musigny’s southern section extends slightly upwards toward the Combe d’Orveau, up to the border it shares with Flagey-Échezeaux. The name Chambolle-Musigny comes from a family in Musigny that no longer exists but once held an important office at the court of the dukes of Burgundy in the 14th century. The borders of Musigny were established on 16 April 1929 before the AOC classification was created. Musigny has always been classified as a Grand Cru. Bonnes-Mares, a small portion of which is also harvested in the township of Morey-Saint-Denis, was classified in 1936.

BONNES-MARES : 13,5 ha
MUSIGNY : 10,77 ha


At the heart of the Côte de Nuits, the Clos de Vougeot stretches across a large section of the township of Vougeot. The Musigny and Grands-Échezeaux vineyards cover the slope of the hill, just above the clos. Founded in 1110 by the nearby Abbey of Cîteaux, which maintained ownership of the vineyard until 1789, the Clos of Vougeot has become an icon of Burgundy. Comprising a single plot of over 50 hectares, this clos remains within the walls that were built around it five centuries ago. Its wine is one of the most distinguished of all the red Grand crus. It received AOC Grand cru certification on 31 July 1937 and is the only one of its kind in the township. With its cellar and vat room, complete with a giant wine press (dating back to between the 12th and 14th centuries), the castle evokes Burgundy during the Renaissance period. It is open to visitors and an international society of Burgundy wine enthusiasts known as the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin holds its chapter dinners here, serving some of the finest food and wine in all of France.

CLOS DE VOUGEOT : 49,25 hectares


This township, with its village situated on the plains on the other side of the D974 motorway, is surrounded by the Clos de Vougeot, with the Musigny vineyards to the north and the Grands crus of Vosne-Romanée to the south, providing an interesting backdrop for these two Grands crus. The Echezaux and Grand Echezaux vineyards are separated by the foot of the Combe d’Orveau. These Climats were originally established by the Cîteaux Abbey from the 12th and 13th centuries onwards.

ÉCHEZEAUX : 35,26 ha


This village is home to six of Burgundy’s most prestigious Grand crus. The municipal territory is made up almost entirely of vineyards. The most famous, of course, is the Romanée-Conti, the most universally coveted of wines (which has always been a monopole). It owes its name to the Prince of Conti. Nearby Richebourg and Romanée are also firm favourites of connoisseurs. Romanée-Saint-Vivant was originally established by the Hautes-Côtes monastery located in Curtil-Vergy. Its vendangeoir, where the grapes are taken to be pressed, is well conserved at the heart of Vosne-Romanée and evokes the vineyard’s monastic heritage.

LA ROMANÉE : 0,85 ha
RICHEBOURG : 7,68 ha
LA TÂCHE : 5,08 ha
LA GRANDE RUE : 1,65 ha

Source : BIVB

The Climats of Burgundy

“Climat” is a Burgundian term used to describe the wine terroirs of the region. The Climats, which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, are vine plots that have been carefully marked out, named and highlighted over the course of centuries.
Each Climat has its own personality, which is shaped as much by its cultural history, spanning over a thousand years, as it is by the natural conditions of its soil, sub-soil, exposure and microclimate. Climat wines each have their own distinct flavour, which is why a single grape variety is used to make them (Pinot Noir for red wines, Chardonnay for white wines). Each of the wines also has its own place in the Burgundy wine classification system.

An exceptional heritage

The “Vignobles et Découvertes” certification Label

France, the world’s leading wine producer, enjoys a high level of tourism thanks to the prestige of the appellations produced on its territory. Vines and wines attract tourists from all over the world, in search of unique landscapes and prestigious appellations.
Wine tourism is centered around the discovery of wine-making methods, tasting and purchasing, but also on broader offers such as activities in the vineyards, catering or even accommodation.
The Vignobles & Découvertes (Vineyards & Discovery) certification Label rewards destinations and services that commit to following a set of criteria identifying them as “wine tourism” and meeting the expectations of tourists looking to immerse themselves in the wine sector.