Iron Ladies of Champagne (by winespectator.com)

Posted: December 22, 2012 by wynmaker in Celebrities, Cellars, Europe, France, MCC, Sparkling, Vinification, Vintage, Wine, Winemaking, Wineries, World wine news
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When it was unheard of for Frenchwomen to run big businesses, these visionaries introduced nearly every innovation in Champagne-making this side of bubbles

When Madame Louise Pommery broke ground on a 124-acre complex in 1868 in Reims, the tightly knit, vehemently competitive Champagne world scoffed. An establishment of the size and scope she had proposed was unprecedented in the region, and bankers doubted her firm, which had been a minor player when she took it over a decade earlier, could possibly pay off whatever loans they tendered.

To put such speculation to rest once and for all, Madame Louise eventually decided to make the lavish purchase of a Jean-François Millet masterwork and donate it to the Louvre to show off the power of her purse. Investors had been wary not just because of the unusual scale of her plans, but also because the planner was quite unusual for a 19th century French businessman—in that, of course, Louise Pommery was not a man at all.

Louise Pommery guided what was then called Pommery & Greno from a small concern focused on still wines to what would become the grandest Champagne marque of all, sizewise, by the World War era, according to Nathalie Vranken, co-owner of Vranken-Pommery. Louise “developed the business in an incredible way,” opening up markets in 80 different countries by the time of her death in 1890. A hard driver and brassy personality, “she was certainly not a very easy lady,” added Vranken.

Read on …

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