Vineyards were first cultivated by the Romans, over 2000 years ago.
But it’s mainly thanks to the Monks, that Burgundy wine is what it is today. Infact we should be thanking the Burgundian aristocracy as they gave much land to the monks which theythen transformed into vineyards, so that, by such a charitable act, they would be assured of a prayer (probably only three “hail Mary’s” which would guarantee them a place in heaven…it’s no wonder the monks often had a mischievious grin…!
So for over 800 years, the monks – first Benedictin and then Cistercian – cultivated the vines, harvested the grapes and made fantastic wine…mainly for the church, in particular for the Pope, but also for the artistocracy. And they made quite a profit from it too.
Of course the French Revolution put pay to that. The year 1789 lead to monks and nobility running for the lives – or more like their heads – and the State took back the vineyards and churches and aristocratic demeures…
Then the state then sold these propoerties on to rich businessmen from Paris and other big cities in France and they became estate owners themselves…and subsequently even richer.
However, it was the monks who perfected the art of making great Burgundy wine and this they perpetuated over many centuries, passing on their know how to future generations of monks who continued their good work. They were effectively the first Oenologists and Masters of Wine!!!