Burgundy wine: Protecting a region’s heritage

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This month Bernard Gauvrit explains the work that is going into protecting Burgundy wine heritage.

In Burgundy (Bourgogne), a Climat is the name for a specific vineyard site combining vine plots, grape variety and know-how. The word ‘climat’ should not be misinterpreted – it is not related to meteorology but is a specific term, unique to Burgundy, designating a specific vineyard site. Since 4th July 2015, The Climats, vineyards of Burgundy, have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List a program that encourages the protection and preservation of cultural, natural and mixed sites.

The Association of the Climats of Bourgogne is committed to saving the region’s dry-stone walls and shelters. In 2014, the Association of the Climats of the Bourgogne Winegrowing Region began the mammoth task of creating an inventory of the entire region’s wine-related architectural heritage. The project’s latest objective is to share this information and to start work on restoring these walls, gateways, meurgers (piles of stones), and huts. To do this, they are looking for sponsors.

“This restoration program will require an investment of between €6-€9 million over the next four years,” explains the association’s director, Bertrand Gauvrit. This may seem like an impressive amount but this is a unique site, with 1,246 registered Climats and 220km of walls to restore.

“This large-scale operation also seeks to deepen our understanding of this patchwork of Climats by restoring and maintaining this unique heritage that is the basis of the Exceptional Universal Value of the site,” Gauvrit adds. For the past two years, one full-time employee and a handful of volunteers have been tackling this valuable inventory, which will be published in the next few months. The work will be shared with owners and local authorities. It will also be made available to academic institutions to help further study into the subject.

The fund should allow a program to raise awareness and train people to be launched later this year, along with projects for both volunteers and experts. A call for projects will soon be launched to encourage landowners and volunteer organizations with an interest in the subject.

Photo Clos St Jacaques © Armelle