Some of the world's most celebrated wines, such as Romanée-Conti or Puligny-Montrachet, are produced in Burgundy. White wines are made using Chardonnay grapes, while red wines are produced using Pinot Noir grapes. When classifying the wines, particular attention is paid to their terroir, i.e. the geography, geology and climate in which the vineyard is located. The best sort of terroir is called Grand Cru, followed by Premier Cru and the Villages wines.

The vineyards of Burgundy are generally positioned on southward-facing slopes at altitudes of between 150 metres and 400 metres. The majority of the ground consists of Jurassic limestone. The characteristics of each wine are determined by erosion as well as the gradient and microclimate of the respective vineyard. Grands Crus are found only in two of Burgundy's six wine regions:

Côte-de-Nuits (between Dijon and Beaune), for example, features the Grands Crus:
  • Clos de Vougeot
  • Grand Échezeaux
  • Griotte-Chambertin
  • Romanée-Conti


Côte de Beaune (between Beaune and Santenay) features the Grands Crus:
  • Bâtard-Montrachet
  • Charlemagne
  • Corton
  • Montrachet

Roman-influenced viticulture reached the Burgundy region with Julius Caesar and his legions. The earliest documented evidence of viticulture is found in a report dating from 312 A.D. of a visit by Emperor Constantine the Great to Autun. Medieval Burgundy owed its outstanding reputation to its monasteries and monks. They possessed the lands and the skills needed to continuously improve cultivation methods. The Benedictine abbey at Cluny became the centre of viticulture in Burgundy from the 10th century onwards. Philip the Bold (1363-1404), the first duke of Burgundy, recognised the commercial importance of the wine export trade.


Many of the famous merchant companies, the Négociants, were founded in the 18th century, e.g. Champy (1720) and Bouchard (1731). Based in Beaune, they supplied most of the world's royal courts with wine. In the 1930s, an initiative was set up by vintners, merchants, politicians and other interested parties to promote Burgundy's high-quality wines and its tourism industry. To this end, the Chévaliers des Tastevin, or "Brotherhood of Wine-Tasters", was founded. The brotherhood organises numerous major events to promote Burgundy's wine events such as the Saint-Vincent tournante and the Trois Glorieuses. Today, vintners come from all over the world to study the secrets of Burgundy's wine.