With the wine harvest officially over since Sunday, I’ve been thinking about our first weekend in France when we ventured south of Dijon onto the highway that leads to Beaune – wine capital of Burgundy. Being from Michigan, the first rows of vines that I ever saw were on the Lake Michigan coastline. Since then, Living in Galicia, I’ve had the chance to see the stunning Ribera Sacra mountains covered in perfect rows of spectacular vines and the Albariño vineyards spotting the landscape of the Rias Baixas. But, the highway out of Dijon was like nothing I’d ever seen before-as far as the eye could see, mile after mile, rows and rows of lush green vines dripping with plump white and purple grapes and tiny towns dedicated to makng wine. I understood immediately the impact of wine on French life and culture, especially here in Burgundy-the “Gold Coast” of French wine.
Heading to Beaune. I was expecting a little village with a few vineyards to explore but we found instead quaint city filled with wine shops, wine culture, restaurants and tourists. We stopped at the wine museum and learned about the many types of grapes grown in Burgundy-most famously the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We also learned about wine appelations d’originée contrôllée (government recognition and certification of varieties of wine, cheese, and other agricultural products-Burgundy has more AOC’s of wine than all of France!) and visited the home of the most important wine auction in France that takes place every November the Hospice de Beaune-an old hospital with the most beautiful example of the geometric ceramic tiles typical of Burgundy roofs.