Alexandrine Pommery

Jeanne Alexandrine Louis (Mélin) Pommery was born in France in 1819. She is a little-known heroine of this time of year when we celebrate the end of one year and usher in the beginning of a new year.

She married Alexandre Pommery in 1839. He was the owner of a wool business. When he died in 1860, Alexandrine sold the wool business, which was struggling, and decided to focus on wine. At the time, women were not allowed to have a business unless they were widowed. Alexandrine’s decision to go into the wine business was controversial. Winemaking was also very risky.

She had gone to boarding school in England and from that experience, she changed the way that champagne is viewed today. Traditionally, champagne had a sweet taste due to the addition of sugar in the fermenting process. The British viewed champagne as a dessert wine.

Alexandrine decided to produce champagne with no added sugar. She did that by picking grapes later in their ripening cycle. The grapes at that time had their own sweetness and didn’t require added sugar. But letting the grapes stay on the vine that long was very risky.

At first, the acceptance of this new brut champagne was limited. Over time, the British market developed, and the concept of what champagne should be changed as well.

With the success of her champagne, Alexandrine brought about another innovation. She constructed a marvelous estate and began to attract tourists to Reims, where she lived. Under the estate were essentially caves that were once Roman chalk pits where she stored her champagne. She hired artisans to carve decorative designs into the chalk. The estate essentially became the advent of the wine tourism industry.

Alexandrine was imaginative and a bold risk-taker who provided the world with a new way to celebrate the beginning of the new year.

* * *

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” – Mark Twain

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.