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Example tour set out below
Kelly has a master's degree in classical archaeology from Brown University (USA), and came to Dijon 20 years ago at the invitaion of a friend to do some excavating (and learn French). She is a nationally accredited French guide specialising in Burgundy. She is passionate about the history of the region, and takes great pleasure in imparting her knowledge, in a friendly and informal manner, to visitors who are interested to learn about the world's most famous wine destination.
From Les Deux Chevres we head towards the hill of Vergy (7km as the crow flies), one of the most important historical sites in all of France. It was here that the Vergy family reigned supreme from the 6c until the end of the religious wars in 1610. They were Lords of Burgundy, controling the movement of trade through the area. The family produced a Saint, and Bishops of Paris, Besancon, Macon and Autun, and owned vineyards throughout the region, They were the first owners of the vineyards that now form the estate of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. They were also the first recorded owners of the Turin Shroud.
THE STORY OF BURGUNDY WINE
The story of Burgundy wine is unique. From approximately the 6c until the French reveloution, the wine making was conducted almost exclusively by the Benedictine and the Cistercian monks. They were skilled and assiduous farmers of the land. The practices that they introduced, and techniques they developed, are still very much in evidence today. When an understanding of this viticultural heritage is combined with visits to Citeaux, Vougeot and Fontenay (Cistercians) or Cluny, St Vivant and Gevrey (Benedictines) the monastic chess board of Burgundy starts to resonate with colours other than the black (Benedictine) and the white (Cistercian) of the monks habits.
THE BIRTH OF ROMANéE CONTI
Over a coffee at Les Deux Chevres, Kelly will give a short introduction to the history of Burgundy, with particular focus on the area between Dijon and Beaune, and the development of the vineyards by the Monks from the 6c until the French revolution.
You will visit the 12c Church St Saturnin (usually closed to visitors) on the side of the hill of Vergy, and Kelly will show you what the Chateau and the hill would have looked like prior to its almost complete destruction in 1610 on the orders of Henri IV at the end of the religious wars in France. The views from the top of the hill of the surrounding Hautes-Cotes are spectacular.
Lunch can be taken, depending on the weather, either as a picnic prepared by Les Deux Chevres, or at the small bistro in Curtil-Vergy – Le Petit Bonheur. Accompanied in either case by a selection of wines from the Hautes-Côtes. After lunch you head to the nearby Chateau Vilars Fontaine, ancient vineyards previously owned by the Vergy family, and restored to production by Bernard Hudelot the present owner. The white wines are particularly popular with our guests, and the tasting will include a visit to their 15c cellars. From Villars Fontaine you travel a short distance to Arcenant, and a tasting of the delicious prize winning fruit liqueurs produced by Gilles Joannet, in the area known as a fruit basket for France.
In Arcenant you will see the ruins of the rural Gallo-Roman site of “Ecartelot.” After a short walk into the common land woods, we will come upon the archaeological site of an ancient farming town, where we will learn about rural Gallo-Roman life: building, religion, farming, water supply.
From Arcennant we broadly follow the trail the monks would have taken from the Abbey St Vivant on the hill of Vergy, back to the vineyards of Romanee Conti, and the final tasting of the day at the cellars of Bernard and Armelle Rion in Vosne Romanee.