I haven't really meant to create a series of non-St. Louis entries, but the other day I got something from France in the mail. It's been very difficult for the average person to visit French (and German and Italian and...) wineries. Folks with a close relationship with their wine merchant could sometimes set something up through channels, wholesaler to negociant to winery management, and perhaps a few intermediate steps that I'm not aware of. But now marvelous Burgundy can be investigated, thanks to those smart folks at the BIVB, the trade group of Burgundian wine houses.
Burgundy itself is exciting; take the train to Dijon, rent a car and head south, and occasionally a little west, and find treasures in wine, food and history. It's not just the stunning sight of the cathedral at Vezelay towering above the countryside, or driving through town after town whose name you've seen on bottles of wine.
The food from this traditionally prosperous part of what eventually became a single country - at one time, the Dukes of Burgundy controlled more land than the Kings of France - is remarkable, much more meat-centric than compared to, say, Provence, which was poorer and whose cuisine emerged with far more emphasis on vegetables. I recall from one visit to the biennial Burgundy wine expositions a lunch buffet that offered, among other things, a crock of duck rilettes more than a foot tall and about 10 inches wide.
You may not encounter that crock, but now you can visit Burgundian wineries. The BIVB has created an 80-page book that has maps, a calendar of wine-ish events and, big news, a list of many wineries that have agreed to receive visitors and offer at least one wine for tasting. The charts show what languages are spoken, who's available on-site that presumably might be able to talk with guests, and whether food and even overnight accomodations are available. Yesterday, Relish put up my discussion of this booklet there, and you can connect to that, and its link to the BIVB and instructions to get the booklet or download here.