France wine country toasted with World Heritage status

12th century church of Chavot in the Champagne-Ardenne region.

Story highlights

  • Hillsides, houses and cellars of Champagne granted UNESCO World Heritage status
  • Slopes of Burgundy, France, also receive special status

(CNN)France's world renowned wine country was toasted twice Saturday with world heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The U.N.'s cultural body bestowed the special status on the historic hillsides and properties where the sparkling wines of Champagne are produced, as well as the famous vineyards that grace the slopes of Burgundy.
The designation covers the Champagne hillsides, houses and cellars where "the method of producing sparkling wines was developed on the principle of secondary fermentation in the bottle since the early 17th century to its early industrialization in the 19th century," UNESCO said in a statement.
    The vineyards in Hautvilliers, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Saint-Nicaise Hill in Reims, and the Avenue de Champagne and Fort Chabrol in Epernay bear "clear testimony to the development of a very specialized artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise," the statement said.
    In Burgundy, the vineyard parcels on the slopes of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, south of the city of Dijon, are "an outstanding example of grape cultivation and wine production developed since the High Middle Ages," the statement said.
    In meetings in Bonn, Germany, the World Heritage Committee added other European cultural sites to its world heritage list. They include Christiansfeld, a Moravian church settlement, and the Parforce hunting landscape in North Zealand, both in Denmark; the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape in Turkey.
    Nominations for heritage status have to meet the UNESCO criteria agreed by member states and include a long-term management plan before they can be scrutinized and judged. The sites are eligible for financial assistance towards preservation.
    The world heritage site list includes 1,022 properties throughout the world.