The village's appellation extends to neighboring Chagny and covers both red and white wines. Typically Burgundian, Rully's red wines are made from Pinot Noir, while the white wines are produced exclusively from Chardonnay and are often fermented or matured in oak barrels.
Rully village sits below the eastern side of a low-lying limestone ridge named La Montagne de la Folie, whose name translates literally as 'Mountain of Madness'. According to the owners of the Domaine de la Folie winery, the name evokes a magical fairy dance 'La Folia' whose flickering lights were visible from the villages below. The ridge is effectively a southern extension of the Cote de Beaune escarpment (its northern tip lies less than 3 miles / 5km from Chassagne Montrachet). It runs from north to south, dividing Rully from Bouzeron, the northernmost of the five Chalonnaise wine villages.
The finest Rully vineyards are on the eastern slopes of La Montagne de la Folie. These sites benefit from light-reflective, free-draining limestone soils and an easterly aspect which enjoys the best of the morning sunshine. The lower-lying vineyards, away from the ridge, tend to have lighter soils with less limestone and more sandstone. These sites typically give lighter-bodied wines that are best consumed within just a few years of vintage.
Because it lacks the prestige of the communes just to the north around Beaune and Nuits, Rully's best vintages provide relatively inexpensive access to some high-quality Burgundy wines. Some of the best examples of Cremant de Bourgogne come from Rully, giving it a reputation as an all-rounder rather than a specialist in any particular wine style.
The Rully title was created in 1939, around the same time as most of the other Chalonnaise appellations. Bouzeron had to wait until 1998. More than 20 vineyard sites in Rully have been marked out as worthy of Premier Cru status, representing around a quarter of the appellation's output and about one-sixth of its 865 acres (350ha) of vines.
Rully has been particularly badly affected by outbreaks of phylloxera, notably at the end of the 19th century.