The first Hospices de Beaune wine auction was held in 1859. Ever since then, the event has been organized every year on the third Sunday of November. This ancient hospice possesses nearly 60 hectares of vines and has a long held tradition of selling its wines in aid of charities via different methods, depending on the accepted model of the time (for example sale by amicable agreement until the Revolution, or by conformity to established custom in the 19th century).
Since 1959, the sale takes place in the covered market hall. Previously, it was held in the King’s bedchamber (until 1925) and following that, in the cellars.
The Hospices de Beaune auction is currently the oldest and most famous charity wine sale in the world.
This sale is held on the third weekend of March.
The Confrérie or brotherhood was founded in 1934 in Nuits-Saint-Georges by a group of winegrowers led by Georges Faiveley and Camille Rodier. Its mission was to promote the produce of Burgundy, especially its great wines and regional cuisine, but also Burgundian folklore, customs and traditions…at a time when France was experiencing a profound economic crisis.
After World War II, the Confrérie acquired the Château du Clos de Vougeot and made this Cistercian landmark its headquarters. Commanderies and sous-commanderies (branches and sub-branches) of the Confrérie were soon established abroad (for example, in New York in 1939) to ensure the spread of the association’s influence on an international level.
The Confrérie now has 12,000 member “knights” across the world and has become a key initiator and organizer of regional events, like the festivals of Saint-Vincent Tournante and Tastevinage. It has also restored Château du Clos de Vougeot.
Saint Vincent became the patron saint of winegrowers because of the pronunciation of « Vin-Sang » (wine-blood). His festival is celebrated every year on January 22nd by all the Saint-Vincent associations.
In every winegrowing community, producers belong to mutual help and support associations, most of which come under the protective heading of Saint Vincent. These support groups were set up during the 19th century to encourage solidarity among workers in the same sector; each of the members agreed to assist the elderly, ill or injured. They would replace any member who was unable to work in their vineyard or cellar. This practice still exists today.
The Saint-Vincent Tournante was launched in Burgundy in 1938 by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. It is a festival organized by winegrowers and mutual aid societies based in Burgundy to celebrate the patron saint of vintners, Saint Vincent. The event is held during the last weekend in January and hosted in a different village in the Burgundy wine region each year. The fact that the festival is held in different places underlines the Confrérie’s wish “to fiercely defend and promote all the wines of Burgundy without exception”. The festival always begins with a specific ritual: The confréries first parade through the village carrying decorated banners and statues of Saint Vincent. The parade is followed by a religious service and the investiture ceremony of the local winegrowing community’s elders into the Confrérie. In 2012, for its 68th year, the Festival celebrated the Climats of Burgundy, and was held in Dijon, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Beaune.
The traditional paulée (meaning a simple meal cooked in a single sauté pan) was offered by the vineyard owner to his laborers to celebrate the end of the grape harvest.
In 1923, the paulée tradition was revived by two well-known vineyard owners in Meursault, Jules Lafon and Jacques Prieur, who were supported by the town’s tourist information bureau. It took place on the Monday following the Hospices de Beaune wine auction. The number of guests attending the paulée de Meursault rose from 60 in 1926 to 300 in 1928.
Each year the paulée de Meursault gathers together a host of participants including public figures, mayors of wine-producing districts, presidents of growers’ syndicates, major vineyard owners and merchants, regional and international journalists, academics, and people from the world of show business and the tourist industry. Burgundian wine and gastronomy have always been at the heart of this festival.
Custom has it that each paulée guest brings one or several bottles of his or her best wine to share on the communal banquet table. This is still true today. The paulée de Meursault is the event which brings to a close what is called the Trois Glorieuses - the three days of festivities following the Hospices de Beaune wine auction – bringing together the local vintners and their best customers from all over the world.