Behind top-quality terroir wines stands an enterprising woman with vision and a true German-French friendship.
"I was only two years old when my father expanded his cellar in 1972, and one of the first words I learned to say was ‘crane’. Now there is one in front of the house, and a new cellar is being constructed; my own son is two years old. Building expansion is a family tradition and cranes are part of my life – my first job was in the customer service department of Demag Cranes in London. When the group changed ownership and my parents needed me at home, I returned to Cramant. That was in 1994. I initially moved away because I did not want to follow in my parents’ footsteps, but apparently destiny had other ideas! Nevertheless, I quickly realised that the work was much more exciting than I wanted to admit.
The Vigniers are six generations of winegrowers and winemakers in Cramant. Every generation has expanded the operation, and now we have 16.5 hectares of vineyards. Yes, yards – I consider the personal scale of the term very important, as a lot of our work is still performed by hand: all of our 140,000 bottles were riddled by hand until 2008, with the process only converted when our riddler retired.
We produce two ranges: Champagne Paul Lebrun (the name of my grandfather) is the traditional range for our loyal old clientele. Quality is also not in question. We recently relaunched the J.Vignier brand, reserved for large and small cuvees, including a wine from our vineyard in lesser known Sézannais which we planted with massal selections of vines from Cramant.
My grandfather befriended a German prisoner of war who was working here. He returned to Germany after the war, but visited us regularly. His great nephew Sebastian Nickel (top right) is now a member of my staff and the co-initiator of the J.Vignier project."