France's Burgundy wine region produces some of the world's truly great wines. This is a region completely dedicated to terroir and tradition. Even the grapes planted in Burgundy are restricted to a few traditional varietals, with pinot noir and chardonnay holding pride of place – as they have for many, many centuries. Burgundy's Winemaking History Burgundy's winemaking history dates back at least to ancient Roman times, possibly earlier, although documentation is scanty prior to the Romans' arrival. Catholic monks cultivated vineyards during the Middle Ages, and the ruling Dukes of Burgundy involved themselves in the grape-growing process in an effort to improve the quality (and, no doubt, export value) of Burgundy wines. It was during this period that pinot noir became the red wine grape of choice in Burgundy. Vineyards shifted from Church ownership to individual owners during the Renaissance, and, in the aftermath of the French Revolution some 300 years later, all remaining Church vineyards were privatized. These privately-owned vineyards were divided and re-divided under Napoleonic law, which forced families to split holdings among heirs instead of willing all inheritable property to one descendant. This division of the vineyards led directly to the system used in Burgundy today; hundreds of growers sell their grapes to négociants , or buyers, who use the grapes to make wine.