Why is champagne so expensive?

Tasting at Henriet-Bazin 2Fancy making your own champagne ?

Many people who come to our B&B ask if we own vineyards or is the champagne we’re serving, the one we make ourselves…..

Well, no, on both counts, and here’s why…

A hectare of champagne vineyards at the lowest quality (cru) is currently valued at and costs in the region of 1m euros to buy, with a hectare of grand cru vineyards valued at 2m euros, that’s if you could ever find any vineyards to buy.  Vineyards typically change hands between existing champagne producers, by word of mouth, so as foreigners, this would simply not be available to us, even if we wanted that.

There used to be strict rules governing the sale and purchase of vineyards, meaning that the larger champagne houses were not allowed to buy up the smaller vineyards, otherwise there would be a monopoly.  In France, everyone has to have the opportunity to make a living, and so the larger houses and the small producers co-exist happily together, with no-one holding all the power.

I am not so sure any more  that there are official rules about this or that it would even be legal for there to be rules. I think that people try to avoid selling to the big brands if they can for exactly the reasons I’ve mentioned, but money talks and sometimes people will sell for a good deal whoever the buyer is.

new vinesHere’s a new vineyard that’s just been planted in Verzy.  I’ve been following the work going on in this vineyard while out on my daily walk with Pepper, our dog.  These little babies will one day be adult vines, producing beautiful juicy pinot noir grapes to make into champagne, but it won’t happen overnight, which is another reason why we would never want to own any vineyards.

Here’s what happens…..

The little vines will take 5 years to be fully fruit producing adults, worthy of producing good champagne.  During that time all the money is tied up in the investment, with no cashflow whatsoever.  And  then when the vines are fully grown and the grapes worth picking, it will then be another 3 years before the champagne is made and on sale  for you and I to buy.

I make that a total of 8 years investment, with no return, and no guarantee of the end result being good enough to be part of the champagne making process.  Plus, our one hectare will yield around 10,000 bottles and let’s say the selling price is 12 euros a bottles, then your revenue would be around 120,000euros before tax.  So that means it would take almost 10 years to get your money back on your investment in the 1 hectare of average quality vineyard.  Sounds good so far?  But wait there’s more….

adult vinesYou’ll need to spend time and money working the vineyard – the vines don’t just grow on their own – well they do but left to Mother Nature, they won’t produce the result you want in terms of quality.

Then you’ll need to pay the pickers as the harvest is all done by hand. No machines allowed here.

And you’d need to buy a press which you only use a couple for weeks per year ( or pay for someone else to press the grapes, perhaps by joining a co-op)

You’d need to buy vats to ferment and store the wine, acquire cellars to age the wine ( or again  pay someone else to do it for you e.g. join a co-op)

All in all you are probably looking at 20 years or even longer to get your money back!

It’s a risky business, for sure, and I know that if I had 1m euros to invest, I’m not sure I would choose this investment, would you?

And people ask us, why is champagne so expensive??????

To which we reply…. Why is champagne so cheap?

Cheers!

Yvonne

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If you love Champagne this wonderful house is a great base to explore the area… Trust you love it as much as we did.. Tony, UK

Want to learn more about champagne and the people who make it?  Check out our private champagne tours and tastings by CLICKING HERE

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hello and thank you for coming over.  Before wishing you a fabulous Christmas, I’ve got some exciting things to tell you first:

Thing 1

We’re closing until the 18th March 2013 to do some renovations and decorating, so if you’re interested in watching us transform the little building on the other side of the courtyard into two fabulous bedrooms, then I suggest you subscribe to the Blog by clicking on the little orange/white button at the top right of this page.  I’ll be posting regularly on our progress, and by subscribing you’ll get an email every time I do that.

Thing 2

We’re going to be managing our neighbour’s house next year.  It is for sale and they have moved out, but in the meantime, until they find a buyer, we are going to be offering it to you as a Gite, which means that if you want to come to Champagne for an extended length of time and prefer to do your own thing, then you’ll be able to book the gite when I put the details on the site after Christmas.  The house has 4 lovely bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, lounge, dining area and kitchen plus a lovely sunny courtyard and pool!  It’s perfect for (adult) families or groups.  Again, if you subscribe to this blog, you’ll know first when it’s ready to go.

Thing 3

As you know we offer meals here at Les Molyneux, which I cook myself.  Next year, we’re going to be using the services of our local French chef, Christophe Ponsart, who has worked in a Michelin star restaurant in Epernay, and now runs his own business.  He will be preparing delicious gourmet meals for you., so you’re in for a treat there!

Thing 4

We’re going to have to raise our prices next year, due to increases in energy, but for you as part of our community, we’re holding the price increase until the 5th January, so if a trip to Champagne is on the cards for you in 2013, then please do book before the prices goes up on the 5th January.  You’ll probably be planning your trips for next year over Christmas with your friends and family, so now is a good time to take advantage of 2012 prices.

Thing 5

Finally,  we have had a spectacularly successful year this year, thanks to you.  Yes, you.  Choosing to stay with us, giving us feedback, writing reviews on Trip Advisor has made our year, and we couldn’t have done it without you.  I want to thank you sincerely, from the bottom of my heart.  We raise a glass to you and wish you a fabulously

Merry  Christmas

and peace, happiness and prosperity to you and your loved ones in 2013 and beyond.

Looking forward to welcoming you again to Champagne in 2013.

 

Yvonne and Jiles xx

 

Champagne Festival in Epernay

The « Habits de Lumiere » Festival in Epernay is only a couple of weeks away now, and the theme this year is “Imagination”.

Your weekend starts at 6.30pm on Friday 14th December, on the Avenue de Champagne, where the usually closed doors of the large champagne houses, fling open their gates and invite you in to taste their champagnes at the bars,   indulge in the gourmet food, listen to the live music, and maybe even dance.

Chestnuts are roasting on the street, fairy lights adorn the buildings, and the sound of music, Jazz, Spanish, Mexican is everywhere along this famous street.

At 7.15pm the street procession begins at Place de la Republique and finishes at the top of the Avenue de Champagne at Mercier, where at 8.30pm you’ll witness an amazing firework display set to music.

Time to head on back to the champagne bars and indulge a little more perhaps?

On Saturday 15th December, there’s more, with many local celebrated chefs giving live demonstrations of their culinary skills and of course there’s wonderful delicacies to delight your tastebuds.  Art exhibtions, photographic exhibitions and of course cellar visits, followed by the street procession again at 6.45pm, and then back to Chateau Perrier for a fabulous light display and perhaps another glass of champagne?  Why not…

And on Sunday morning, if you’re feeling up to yet more champagne  (and why wouldn’t you be? ), there’s a vintage car procession starting at 11am through the town of Epernay.

A fabulous weekend not to be missed…. Are you coming?

“All arrangements were prepared in great detail, and we appreciated the effort and dedication to help us find exciting things to do”

Yvonne

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For more ideas on what to do, where to go and hidden gems of the Champagne region, CLICK HERE to download our free guide

Walking with Pepper along the CBR

It’s a beautiful crisp, cold and slightly foggy day today here in Champagne, so I decided to step away from the computer and take Pepper for a longer than usual walk.

I love walking, especially with my dog.  It’s so refreshing to be in nature, to hear the rustle of the trees, the birds singing and the quiet solitude of the forest.

My favourite walking trail is definitely the CBR which stands for Chemin de Fer de la Banlieue de Reims – a former railway line spanning over 400 kms and connecting 180 villages in the Champagne region.  It was built in 1894 and played a very important role during the first World War carrying ammunitions, materials and indeed the wounded.

This is an old picture of the station in Verzy which is now a private house.  The stations are easy to recognise because they all look the same, built to the same specification. However, as time went on, the railway network was used less and less, and like many European suburban railways, was sadly dismantled in 1966.

But what’s left is over 400kms of trails for us to enjoy on foot or on bicyle around the region.

The bit which passes through our village, Verzy, is now part of the old pilgrim trail to both St. Jacques de Compostelle in northern Spain and the Via Francigena which leads to Rome.

When I walk just a little bit of this trail, those destinations sometimes call to me.  How about you?

 

 

Yvonne :-)

 

For ideas on what to do, where to go and who to meet, download our free guide by CLICKING HERE

Champagne Harvest 2012 is coming soon


 
How would you like to join us here in Champagne and experience the highlight of the year – The Harvest?  We’ve put together a programme so you can do just that!

Between the 20th and 30th September, you have the opportunity of becoming part of the harvesting team for one day,  picking the grapes, following them to the “pressoir”, tasting the juice as it comes directly from the crushed grapes, and experiencing the atmosphere and excitement of this special time.

Your day will begin at one of our favourite champagne maker’s “vendangeoir” where you’ll pick up your secateurs and be taken into the vineyards with the team, where you’ll begin picking.  You’ll then follow the process back at the “pressoir” and witness first hand how it’s all done champagne-style.

A traditional harvester’s lunch and some serious champagne tasting is included, and all you need to do now is to book yourself a place by clicking here.

The package includes:

  • Two nights’ B&B accommodation at Les Molyneux
  • Dinner on your arrival night with champagne and wine
  • A full day out with one of our favourite champagne makers

Prices are 355 euros for one person and 520 euros for two people sharing a room.

Here’s what you need to do now:

  1. Simply Click Here to book your accommodation at Les Molyneux
  2. Choose two nights’ between the 20th and 30th September
  3. Put a note for us in the Comments Box of the reservation form that you want to come on the Harvest Special

That’s it!  We’ll then organise your day’s harvesting, and be in touch with you again very soon.

Places are limited, so hurry and book now and we’ll see you soon in Champagne!

Yvonne

x

Rent a Renault Twizy 45 in Champagne

Have you ever wanted to try out an electric car ?  How about drinking champagne in the region where it’s made?  Well now the Tourist Office in Epernay is combining these two dreams into one.  Discover the vineyards and the champagne houses of the champagne region by hiring Twizy, an electric car directly from the Tourist Office and… grab a free bottle of bubbly to drink for yourself!

You can hire Twizy for an hour, a half day or a whole day.

Where can you go with an electric car in Epernay?

Start off by driving up the Avenue de Champagne, calling in at Moet et Chandon for a swanky, stylish guided tour of their cellars and a glass or two of bubbly afterwards.  Did you know that there are approx. 21 kilometres of cellars just under Moet’s building and 110 kms of cellars under the whole town of Epernay!  Incredible, but true.

After your visit to Moet why not drop into Champagne Andre Bergére, just a short drive in your little car further on up the Avenue.  Maxime or Stephanie will be happy to welcome you and introduce you to their smaller but good quality champagnes, made at their production facility in the Cotes des Blancs but on sale here on the Avenue.

And then further on up the Avenue, drop into Champagne Mercier where an elevator experience will descend you down into their cellars and then onto their cellar train for a guided tour.

Afterwards, Champagne de Castellane will introduce you to the mechanics of champagne making where you’ll get to see the bottling and labelling room – fascinating.  And for the best view in Epernay, climb the steps up to the top of the de Castellane tower.

You’ll probably be hungry after all that, so try La Banque on the Place de la Republique for a well-earned bite to eat.  Or La Table Kobus, behind the church, where you can take your own free bottle of bubbly to drink there.

Whatever you do, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Yvonne :-)

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Why not pick up our free guide to find out more about what to do in Champagne.  Simply CLICK HERE

“We loved walking in the forest, and visited some Champagne houses whilst there, including Moet & Chandon which was fascinating”

Champagne Stories from the Vineyards

What a priviledge it is to be able to live and work in Champagne!  I am in awe of the beauty of the landscape and the work and toil of the people every single day.  My drive to the supermarket is through vineyards owned by such luminaries as Moet et Chandon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and I marvel at their visions which began almost 3 centuries ago.

I am indeed lucky.

But life wasn’t always bubbly in Champagne. After the devastation of the phylloxera epidemic during the late 1800s and the wine growers’ revolts in the early 1900s, the emergence of champagne as we know it today began.  But life was still tough, and many farmers were very poor.  So much so that over the years, many of their offspring left the bubbly trade in search of adventure elsewhere.

One of those sons is our friend Christian Briard, who after having explored life without bubbles, has returned to his roots and taken up the baton in his grandfather’s champagne business, Champagne Christian Briard, in the Marne Valley.

Christian explains what lead him to where he is now in this interesting article and I encourage you to read it here

Yvonne YvonneJune0903

 

 

 

 

“Yvonne is the best host ever and really went the extra mile to make our stay enjoyable. We particularly loved her cooking – delicious breakfast which was different every day, and the evening meals were fabulous, served with Champagne and wine.”