Visiting Champagne cellars in France
We all owe a special tribute to a Benedictine monk named Dom Pérignon (1638-1715) from the small town of Hautvillers just outside of Epernay, who introduced features that are hallmarks of Champagne today, such as the extensive blending from multiple vineyards. Some debate whether he invented Champagne itself, or the technique of adding sugar and yeast to still wine after fermentation to cause the wine to form bubbles.
Champagne is considered a white wine, but it is made from a blend of both red and white grapes. The red grapes come from the Montagne de Reims (the mountains south of Reims) and the Valle de la Marne (the valley of the River Marne, where Epernay is located). The white wines come from the Cote des Blancs, just south of Epernay.
These vineyards are the northern-most in France and that makes it difficult to grow grapes. This combined with the extra labor involved in production pushes the price of champagne higher than many other wines. The chalky soil unique to this area helps keep vines warm in cold weather while underground maintaining a consistent temperature for the hundreds of miles of natural caves where the champagne is produced and stored.
Visiting a Cellar
Since the word champagne itself implies something luxurious, the major wine producers have very large and elegant cellars for the public to tour, taste and make purchases. Some individual cellars can be visited in the heart of the vineyards, but most that are open to the public can be found in Reims and Epernay.
Note that many of these cellars have limited hours and that an appointment is strongly suggested, if not required. Because the cellars are below ground and tours often last over an hour, it is important to dress warmly. Most tours and visits have a charge which may or may not include a tasting. Expect to pay between $8 and $25 for a 90 minute tour with tasting.
How Champagne is produced
There are strict controls that the region has set for the process of making this world renowned wine.
So now that you know the process, you might understand what Dom Perignon meant when he called to his fellow brothers after sipping his first creation: "Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!". Aren't you ready to hear that "pop" that accompanies celebrations? Salute! Please also visit our page about wine tasting in France.
Travels with Friends: Learn more about other European destinations and tips for traveling within Europe. www.TravelsWithFriends.com
Private Guides: See Europe and learn about its history with your own private guide. www.PrivateGuidesInEurope.com
Europe travel news sent to you 15 times a year.
Top sights, hotel reviews, travel tips and more.
Private Tours in France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
Join one of our small group Europe tours.
Tours and day trips to help you explore Europe.
Hire a professional from Private Guides in Europe.
Let us help personalize your European itinerary.
Our thoughts on how to best travel in Europe.
For more information or to send us an email.
Car Rentals, Flights, Hotels, Rail Passes