We’ve just enjoyed a long weekend soaking up lots of wine and beautiful scenery in France’s Burgundy area. We stayed with a winemaker in the pretty village of Beaune, in the heart of this famous wine region. It downpoured on our arrival, but by Saturday morning the sun was shining brilliantly, and we (and the grapes) were very happy.

We enjoyed learning so much about Burgundy wines and visiting as many villages of the Cote d’Or as we could manage. We were surprised that the villages have remained so small and quiet, despite the fact that they produce some of the world’s most famous wines.

We were also quite taken with how very much of an intimate experience it is to taste wine in this region. Much of the wine production (and tasting) actually happens in the cellars and warehouses of people’s homes. Usually it was the winemaker himself (or herself) who was pouring the wine, either in their homes or cellars on their property. This would never happen in Napa! Harvesting is predominately done by hand, and many of the farmers pride themselves on their traditional production methods (which, not surprisingly, are also more earth friendly). These vineyards go back generations within the same family, and the importance of the “terroir” to the livelihood of these people was striking.

We enjoyed the calm, slow-rhythm of life in the French countryside. (For the most part that is – we did not enjoy the one-man operation inefficiency that led to us waiting an hour to rent bikes, for example.) Entire villages shut down for two-hour lunches and it was an easy 15-minute bike pedal from one town to the next along the Grand Cru tasting route. Since many people in this area speak limited English, Katie even got to test out her French on some agreeable and patient locals.

Besides the wine, Burgundy is also famous for it’s cuisine, and as usual when in France, we made ourselves sick on the wonderfully rich food – this time primarily “peasant food” – local cheeses, boeuf bourguignon, pain d’epices (spice bread) and Brent’s favorite – snails. What a wonderful weekend. When our winemaker/B&B owner asked in earnest if we wanted to stay and help with harvest, we were tempted. But it was time to go home and detox.

For more pictures, check out our Beaune photo album dated 30th August 2011