A historical institution
This institution was born from the association of Nicolas Rolin and Guigone de Salins who decided in 1443 to build a hospital: the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune. The two founders established a tradition of charity and patronage. This tradition has enabled the Hospices de Beaune to survive throughout history in exceptional conditions. Today, the Hospices civils de Beaune groups together the hospital centers of the southern Côte d’Or (Beaune, Arnay-le-Duc, Seurre and Nuits-St-Georges).
All hospitals in France usually own farms, buildings, moors or forests, but the Hospice de Beaune hospital institution stands out because of the importance, originality and nature of its heritage, which consists of a historic monument, the 15th century Hôtel-Dieu, which is now a tourist site and has not received elderly patients and residents since the early 1980s;
But also a prestigious 60-hectare wine estate in Beaune, representing the best appellations in Burgundy. The Hospices de Beaune obtained these vineyards through bequests and donations. The production of this estate is marketed within the framework of the charity sale of the Hospices de Beaune, the most famous charity sale in the world.
Thus, through its heritage, this hospital institution plays a leading role in the two major activities of Beaune and its region: tourism and wine.
A Charity Sale
The Hospices de Beaune sale takes place every year on the third Sunday of November and is the most famous and oldest charity wine sale in the world (1859). The wine production of the Hospices de Beaune estate is sold: the sale can offer over 500 lots.
The profits from the sale are reserved each year for two causes: the first is the maintenance of its heritage and the modernization of hospital equipment and buildings; the second is a charity. In fact, the institution, faithful to its founding values, offers the profits from the sale of a piece of wine, known as the “President’s Piece”, to a charity each year.
This year, the profits from the 161st Hospices de Beaune wine sale will be donated to two associations that work in favor of women. This is an unquestionable choice, as the societal and public health issues are so important and correspond to their history since Guigone de Salins.
The Hospices de Beaune Wine Estate
The winery tries to produce quality grapes and produce quality wine while respecting the environment as much as possible and this is achieved through various sustainable viticulture practices:
First of all, the Domaine does not use herbicides and avoids spreading chemicals in order to maintain a complex microbiological life in the soil. Treatments are therefore always the subject of study, observation and reflection, and are only applied when the natural biological balance has been broken.
To preserve this fragile balance, the winegrowers work the vines rigorously without applying any pre-established system and use methods similar to organic viticulture.
In its concern to preserve the environment, the Domaine viticole des Hospices de Beaune also takes measures to limit soil erosion. The reconstruction of the stone walls, which once marked the boundaries of the vineyards, also has the function of preventing landslides. In the same way, the grass growing around the vineyards is maintained.
Regular soil analyses allow us to monitor the level of microbiological life in the soil, which is essential for the vigour of the plant. Each time the vines are uprooted, the soil is left to rest for four to six years, depending on its state of health. The aim of Ludivine Grivot, the estate’s manager, is to control the vigour at all stages, from the soil to the fruit. She then chooses to carry out a very short pruning and a green harvest if the vintage is generous.
Quality cannot rhyme with productivity: in order to extract the typicity of the climates in the wines, her objective is to limit the yields to an average of 30 hectolitres per hectare.
The 2021 vintage began with an exceptional climatic situation that started at the end of March when temperatures were abnormally high for the season and led to a veritable explosion of vegetation. It continued with the extreme frost in early April.
Despite all the climatic difficulties and the sanitary pressure of this year 2021, the estate has managed to preserve its production while respecting its approach to the environment and without synthetic chemicals. Two essential elements have enabled the vineyard to function well: the first is the strength of its organisation, consisting of a team of 23 committed, close-knit and highly reactive salaried winegrowers, and the second is linked to the history of the estate, whose vines are mainly located on hillsides, thus facilitating good accessibility in case of capricious weather.
"Production quality and respect for the environment are the fundamental principles of the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune."
Ludivine Griveau is the first woman to be appointed as the regisseuse of the Hospices de Beaune. At 36, the young woman took over from Roland Masse and the seasoned oenologist has nothing to envy her predecessors.
After studying agronomy, she discovered the wine world and studied oenology at the Jules Guyot Institute in Dijon.
In 2004, Ludivine Griveau became the cellar master responsible for the vinification of the grand crus of Maison Corton André in Aloxe-Corton, Côte d’Or. She held this position for 10 years before taking over the reins of the Hospices de Beaune estate.
In an environment often considered patriarcal, the young woman has been able to make her place and impose her talent by highlighting her skills with a little audacity.
In her approach to vineyard management, Ludivine favours quality and the identity of the terroir while taking into account the new trends in viticulture which tend towards more responsible and environmentally friendly practices.
“I’m more in favour of a reasoned organic culture, because I like the organic approach, but we mustn’t remain closed and we must free ourselves from certain criteria, while also integrating the survival of an estate, because organic culture is not always the answer to everything.
Ludivine Griveau is the link between wine and the hospital environment, thanks to her commitment as a manager at the Hospices de Beaune.