The Saint Vincent Wine Festival in Burgundy
by Youliana Veltcheva
December 30, 2019
The last weekend of every month of January, locals from Burgundy take part in the Festival of Saint Vincent, the patron saint of wine-growers. Thousands of participants from all over the world gather for this occasion in a selected hosting village in the Burgundy area. In 1938, a fraternity, called the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (the brotherhood of Burgundy winegrowers) started the original festival to promote the wines of Burgundy and unite the different wine-makers of the region together and make them stronger by being part of a common goal that unites them all - to become better and strive for excellence. Ever since, Burgundy continues to celebrate the festival with long parades, religious service, lavish street decoration and wine-tasting. Every year the celebration takes place in a different winegrowing village, chosen as a host. It starts with a ritual Saint Vincent mass, followed by a procession of members of the Confrérie and local winegrowers, carrying their statues and banners through the local vineyards. The religious service is hosted by the Grand Council of the Order and is followed by a celebration of the president of the current year’s Saint Vincent hosting village. A local wine-growing family keeps the “local Saint” under their roof until January of the following year.
The houses in the hosting town get beautifully decorated and thousands of handmade paper flowers are traditionally used to decorate the streets, trees and gardens making the visitors feel like it’s spring time. As locals prepare for the festival, dressed up in costumes of old times, visitors can feel the buzz and excitement around. Winemakers offer samples of present and future vintage wines directly from the big barrels. All wine producing villages in the area honor the festival of Saint Vincent by decorating their streets, monuments and main squares festively and offering a great wine tasting experience. Visitors can tour the village where local winegrowers have opened their cellars for wine tasting, enjoy live music, taste some of the traditional local food and immerse in the spirit of this wonderful celebration.
In 2019 the festival was hosted by the village of Vezelay, known as one of the great Santiago de Compostela routes and the UNESCO world heritage site of basilica of Saint Marie Madaleine. In 2018 festivities took place in the town of Prisse featuring the Cru Saint Veran wine producers. Saint Vincent festival in 2017 was celebrated in Mercurey and Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu, which achieved its reputation with the most extensive of Burgundy red wine appellations.
In 2020 the festival is scheduled to take place on January 25th and 26th in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin in the Cote d’Or for its 76th edition. The area boasts some of the most prestigious red wines, of which Le Chamberten is the most known and respected. All wines of the area are primarily Pinot Noir and known for their intense aroma and rich flavor.
What a wonderful festival to honor the strive of the Burgundy wine makers for excellence. It honors the patron saint of winegrowers and brings together the rich family wine-making experience, technical advancement and the generocity of mother nature, providing richness of soils and mild climate to extract a multitude of unique flavors to highlight the authenticity of each vineyard. A sense of togetherness, happiness and spirituality mark this one-of-a kind festival that some people consider “the event of the year” in Burgundy. To book a trip to Burgundy, click here.