- Visit a winery
- Visit historic sites: the abbey of Fontenay, the village of Vézelay, the rock of Solutré and the Morvan
- Drive through the countryside
- Taste local gastronomy
- Black: Pinot Noir, Gamay
- White: Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc
- At the top of the hierarchy, there are 33 Grand Cru domaines in the Cote D’Or and one in Chablis
- Approximately 600 premier crus spread between Chablis, the Cote d’Or and the Cote Chalonnaise
- Best vintages:
- All year round, however some producers may be closed between November and March
- April to October is a high season
- Harvest is in September and October. It is still possible to visit, some wineries may not accept visitors
- Autumn – Burgundy truffle markets
Burgundy, aka Bourgogne in French, is in the center of France, about 300 km or 190 miles southeast of Paris. You can also reach Burgundy by a short train ride or a drive from Lyon, Geneve, or Lausanne in Switzerland.
Burgundy wines are elegant, aromatic, and complex. They are often thought to be the canonic expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the main grapes of the region.
In addition, the most expensive wines in the world come from this region of France. In 2018, a bottle of Domaine Romanee Conti 1945 was sold for $558,000 at Sotheby’s New York, which was the highest price ever paid for a bottle of wine at an auction. Of course, not all Burgundy wines are sold at astronomic prices.
The 33 Grand Cru domaines of Burgundy are in the Cote D’Or and one in Chablis. They are the most prestigious followed by over 600 premier crus spread between Chablis, the Cote d’Or and the Cote Chalonnaise. The less expensive Burgundy Reds and Burgundy whites are coming from any place in Burgundy.
Burgundy wine classification system can be found here.
The landscapes are hilly and set with small medieval villages and Romanesque churches.
When visiting Burgundy, drive along the Grand Cru wine route, sample famous Burgundy wines at the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits wineries, wander the historic heart of Beaune and discover traditional shops in Dijon, the Burgundy’s capital.
If you take route N74 between Dijon and Beaune, the most famous villages you can visit are Morey-Saint-Denis, Vougeot (be sure to visit the Clos-Vougeot), Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée (and its priceless Romanée-Conti), and Nuits-Saint-Georges.
What to see in Dijon:
- Palace of the Dukes and States of Burgundy
- Saint-Bénigne cathedral and the charterhouse at Champmol
- the natural history museum and museum of Burgundian life.
Entrance fees and some guided visits, as well as local public transport are included in the Dijon City Pass.
What to see in Beaune:
- the famous Hospices (old hospital/poorhouse)
- Fallot mustard factory
- Wine museum.
How to visit wineries in Burgundy
The style of winery hopping in Burgundy is nothing like you may have experienced in the United States. Visits and tastings at worthwhile wineries are by appointment only. Email or call in advance to book a visit.
Burgundian wine producers are often small family enterprises. Winemakers are generally busy and introvert farmers who do not need visitors or extra orders. In most cases, the winery owner will be showing his estate to you himself, which is a truly authentic experience.
I found these local tourism sites to be helpful in planning Burgundy winery visits:
- Beaune Tourism Office to book your visit at a winery as well as find other things to do in Beaune
- Burgundy Tourism suggests a number of interesting tours in Burgundy by car or by bike. There is an excellent list of itinerary suggestions here.
If you don’t feel like driving and booking your visits, and to avoid the drink-and-drive situation, hop on one of the small group tours from Paris, Dijon or Beaune, or book a private Burgundy wine tour.
Private tours are more flexible and can help you visit great wineries, enjoy the gastronomic scene at your own pace and even stay the night.
Stay at a hotel, a bed and breakfast, an apartment or a cabin. You can check out the options at the Discover Burgundy website.