We’ve been to the delightful town of Beaune many times and just as many times have walked right by the entrance to Maison Joseph Drouhin, which houses the tasting room and incredible cellars of the Drouhin family. This oversight was remedied recently when we were invited to tour the premises with delightful and longtime senior public relations officer Jean-Pierre (J.P) Cropsal. The story of J.P. is intertwined with both the town of Beaune and with the Drouhins. He was born right across the street in the Hospice de Beaune and has been with the maison for 33 years. Many of our barge guests have enjoyed his private tours, where, as he says: “When I take guests into the cellar, I have no pre-conceived program. And they can stay as long as they want!”
The fourth generation of the Drouhin family is still hard at work. They own one of the largest wine estates in Burgundy and bottle top quality wine from both their own vineyards and selected partners. Walking through these cellars, one realizes how much history is represented, along with the thousands of bottles of wine. The oldest portions were built against 4th century Roman walls. Other sections were added on through the centuries, including the 14th century cellars of the Ducs of Burgundy. A wine press from the year 1570 can still be operational – if needed!
More recently, a member of the family was a member of the Resistance in WW II. When the Gestapo came for him in the middle of the night, he left through a tunnel into the Hospice, where the nuns hid him until danger passed. We were shown the hidden doorway through which he escaped.
My tour ended with a very special winetasting, hosted by J.P. (pictured at right) But, don’t wait to be invited! Their Oneotheque program offers daily tastings, which are currently priced at 20 euros per person; or a tasting combined with a cellar tour, currently 35 euros per person. Reservations may be required. For the quality of the wines and the interest of the tour, this experience is exciting and memorable.