July 8, 2015 — The Champagne flowed as more than a thousand people gathered in the streets of Hautvillers, the birthplace of Dom Perignon, on Sunday to celebrate the announcement by UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, that Champagne and Burgundy had been selected for “world heritage status”. The vote had taken place in Bonn, Germany, where UNESCO was meeting, on Saturday evening and it was replayed on a big screen TV for the cheering crowds.
In Burgundy, the celebration was more subdued with Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti saying it was “A formidable achievement and an occasion to celebrate by uncorking a few bottles.” Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is the most expensive red wine in the world, some vintages selling for $7,000+ a bottle so “cracking a few bottles” is not to be sniffed at. The winery dates back to 1232.
France now has 41 sites on the world heritage list including two other winemaking regions, Saint Emilion and Bordeaux. France is the world’s most visited country with 84 million visitors last year. The tourism industry employs about two million people and with this new designation both Champagne and Burgundy anticipate it will increase by as much as 20 percent.