Yes we have Champagne!
After coming back from a 3 days trip to Champagne a post about wine tourism is more than necessary.
Four producers were visited during those days, 2 huge traditional houses (Taittinger and Castellane) and 2 small producers (Tribaut and Marc Chauvet).
Generally speaking wine tourism is quite boring, and if you have been to at least 1 visit in a winery before you probably have seen it all. They all have presses, barrels, stainless steel vats, pumps, hoses, etc.
Very few producers do something to innovate in visits to wineries.
The first visit was in Champagne Castellane, a huge négociant that buy grapes from numerous growers in Champagne. The house has a museum and a tower where you can see the city and vineyards around Epernay and the Marne River. The visit in this winery is impressive for their size and structure to receive huge amount of tourists. The cellar visit and the underground are impressive for it’s size and storage capacity. The main avenue underground has 1 km extension with several streets crossing the avenue and a total of 6 km of underground space for storage. The winery guide is enthusiastic and promotes a minimum interaction with the visitors. In despite of the dedication of the staff, the visit is standardized and impersonal. Sure you learn details about production, storage and the winemaking process but it lacks interaction and interest from the producer.
The second visit was at Taittinger, huge well know producer. This visit was then again more standardized and mechanical than the first. The house guide not at all promoted interaction with the visitors and with the exception of the cellar tour, a cave carved in chalk and enlarged by the Saint Nicaise Abbey monks in the 13 century, the visit there is unnecessary.
In the other hand, both visits at the small producers Tribaut and Marc Chauvet were personalized and the producer itself was there to escort us through the vineyards, winery and cellar. Much more information and interaction were promoted and discussions about production, sales, marketing, took place during the tastings. As a result 4 times more wine was purchased inside those small producers than in the big houses.
Suggestions for who’s planning to visit wine producers in Champagne, look for smaller producers, make appointments in advance and enjoy. Most of the small producers sell 100% of their champagne at the cellar door, so they have credit card machines and boxes to transport the wine.
Suggestions for the big houses with standardize visits, please interact with your visitor/customer. Instead of talking the whole visit, let the consumer express himself and encourage interaction. The information brought by the visitor is much more important than explaining the Champenoise method 10 thousand times a year.
If anyone had a nice innovative winery visit recently, here is the place to share your experience. Tell me: