After nearly two weeks of assembly, the World Heritage Committee concluded its annual session on July 8, 2015, which resulted in two French additions to UNESCO’s World Heritage List: The production properties of Champagne and the climats and terroirs of Burgundy. France is now home to 41 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The first of the two newest cultural sites pays homage to the three types of properties responsible for the production, processing and commercialization of Champagne, which began in the early 17th century : the historic vineyards in the of Hautvilliers, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, the Saint-Nicaise Hill in Reims, and the Avenue de Champagne and Fort Chabrol in Epernay. The inscription of these locations serves to preserve the geography and history of Champagne throughout the entirety of its production process. UNESCO’s recognition of these sites is a salute to the remarkable development of a highly specialized kind of artisan-wine making that has earned itself unparalleled international renown.
In a similar manner, the World Heritage Committee agreed to include the Climats and terroirs of Burgundy on their list of World Heritage cultural sites. The term Climat refers to the precisely demarcated vineyard plots in Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, located south of Dijon, the capital of Burgundy. Despite their geographic proximity, these two viticultural havens have evolved to nurture remarkably different vine development as a combined result of natural conditions and human cultivation. With this addition to the list of World Heritage Sites, UNESCO protects not only the vineyards in question, but also the nearby villages in which traditional wine production took place as well as the historic town center of Dijon, which symbolizes the exceptional Burgundian savoir-faire of grape cultivation and wine production dating back to the High Middle Ages.
For more information and images about these and the 39 other French World Heritage sites, visit France’s page on UNESCO’s website.