The trade of négociants-éleveur (literally, merchant-one who ages) appeared in the 18th century. There are now some 400 such maisons in Bourgogne, with the bulk of the business carried out by around 60 of the biggest.
In other regions, the main function of a négociant is to sell wine, both in France and the rest of the world. They typically purchased the finished wine, which has often already been bottled.
In Bourgogne, négociants are also known as éleveurs because their involvement starts much earlier in the chain, often right in the vineyard itself.
They maintain close partnerships with the winegrowers who supply them, and often select the grapes from the plot.
They then vinify these grapes, respecting their origins and their terroir, before ageing the wine in the barrel themselves, giving it their own personal touch and house style.
Furthermore, négociants in Bourgogne frequently own their own vines. Their approach is very similar to winegrowers. They are all keen to preserve the land from which they live, to share their exceptional savoir-faire and their love for the vines.