Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Ultimate Guide to the Burgundy Wine Region

Burgundy Wine Region Agriculture


The Burgundy wine region, since it doesn't border any seas or oceans, is considered to have continental weather. Just like many parts of the United States, Burgundy has cold winters and hot summers. However, Burgundy has lots of rainfall during the summer heat, whereas the U.S. tends to have drier summers. The land region used to be an ocean floor millions of years ago -- therefore the soil tends to be dominated by limestone, clay and chalk. The six most distinct regions within Burgundy are, from north to south:

  • Chablis
  • The Cote de Nuits
  • The Cote de Beaune
  • The Cote Chalonnaise
  • The Maconnais
  • Beaujolais

Each region has a different positioning on the land and therefore comprises a difference in its set of elements that affect making a quality wine, including soil and other land conditions, climate and sun exposure. The French call this multi-faceted, micro-climate a terroir. The philosophy of the terroir system posits that even though two wines are created from the same grapes, if those grapes are grown in different areas -- even in neighboring vineyards -- the resulting wines could be very different from each other. Even subtle differences in soil composition or terrain can affect the taste of the grapes, and hence, the wine produced [source: Cannavan].

The Chablis region, the northernmost region in Burgundy, often has trouble with temperatures. Summer days are too long and approaching winter days expose the plants to frost. In order to combat the potential harm of extreme temperatures, growers have experimented with windmills, sprinklers and heaters [source: Sonkin].

Aside from temperature considerations and other key elements of a terroir, the growers of Burgundy are concerned with other aspects of viticulture. Selecting the right type of grape, adhering to pruning techniques tailored to area conditions and making sure to choose the best location for the grapes in the soil are all important [source: Burgundy Wines].