Skip to content

Why Right Now Is the Perfect Time to Visit Burgundy

Tastings may be harder to come by these days, so think beyond the cellars of this storied French wine destination.
Semur-en-Auxois.

"This entire wall used to be lined with wine barrels," said Genevieve Lahaye, a winemaker in Pommard, at the heart of Burgundy. She was gesturing toward a long wall in June, speaking through a translator as she rubbed her careworn hands and explained the woes of a landowning vintner amid the region's recent years of disastrous weather. A mere three barrels were lined up, though the wall at Domaine Lahaye looked as if it could hold more than a dozen.

This is the new normal for smaller winemakers in the legendary wine region, just a few hours' drive southeast of Paris. For the past few years, hail, frosts, and too much rain at times have resulted in yields of fewer than half the grapes of a good harvest. Last spring, multiple late frosts hit the Côte de Beaune, the central stretch of the ribbon of stony slope where Burgundians grow wine. Hailstorms, too, have crushed the area. As a result, 2016 may be one of the smallest harvests ever.