Champagne From Grape to Glass

The golden leaves around my house are reminding me of another golden hillside – Essoyes’ own golden vineyards of the special champagne grape.  Last October I, along with the other students at the Essoyes School, spent afternoons walking through the vineyards that covered the hill behind Hotel des Canotiers

Vineyard in Essoyes, France

The leaves of the vines were turning golden, making the grapes clusters that still clung to them pop.

“She who risks, gets to drink champagne.”  Old Russian Proverb

Herve, one of the vignerons for Christian Senez Champagnerie, saw us walking there one day and stopped to give us all a lesson in the proper care and pruning of the grapes.  This is all done by hand, a large order for someone as tall as he.  Herve charmed us all.  He spoke excellent English and was quite humorous at times.  As a friend of Janet Hulstrand’s and because this is his passion, he gave us a tour of Christian Senez Champagnerie.  Unfortunately, this champagne isn’t available in the United States, but it’s worth the trip to Essoyes just to go to the different champagne houses, especially this one.

The building was beautiful and the modern equipment was all steel and cold, squeaky clean on washed down floors.  So I am sharing pictures of the romantic old equipment and signs.

This is the champagne press of the past, replaced about twenty years ago.  But doesn’t it look like you imagined it would?

Herve patiently explained each part of the process; harvesting, pressing, processing, bottling, corking,



and getting into ther cases.

And then came my very favorite part!  We were taken inside to the tasting room with a long French table across from a wood burning fireplace – cozy, warm, ambiance by the yards. 

“Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman more beautiful after drinking it.”  Madame de Pompadour – lover of Louis XV of France

Award winning bottles of their champagnes lined the walls.

We sat on the long bench beneath the table, facing the fireplace and our host.  He brought out glasses and placed them in a line down the center of the table and began to pour.

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”  Dom Perignon

These were no dixie cups of swill, my friends.  It was full glasses of four different champagnes and the action in the glass matched no other I’ve ever had.  It was like watching a fountain from a tiny volcano in the botton of the glass, sending a spire of bubbles up and then fanning out over the surface.  Amazing!

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right!”  Mark Twain

Luckily, we had drivers to take us safely back to our hotel, purchases made.  I brought a couple of bottles back home to share with my husband.  And back in Paris after the time at our school had ended, I opened one and shared it with one of the students who ended up there with me. 

If Galileo was correct in surmising that, “Wine is sunlight held together by water,”  then surely champagne is starlight held together by wine. 

It is a wonderful experience to take the walk from grape to glass and taste its golden nectar in a sparkling glass.  I wish it for all of you.

The author in beret with two other students - Karin in center and Lena on right


  1. Nice one!! its more special one as its on Champagne…. which i have never taste yet, but i have a desire to taste it at least for once 🙂 Now due to this post of yours i came to know how it comes from grapes… now waiting for it to come to my glass !!

    1. Arindam,
      I love your comments! On this one, I say the wait should be over. Invite a few friends over and share a bottle. Just a taste and you’ll know what makes it special. And it was invented by monks…just saying!

    2. Lets hope i am going to make it… but to make a trip to Essoyes may be i have to wait few more years…. But for sure France is everyone’s dream destination!!

  2. I love champagne. Unfortunately, I quit drinking, but I am going to make an exception and indulge in at least a sip of the bubbly at my daughter’s upcoming wedding. So fun that you were able to tour and taste in the country of its origin. Your whole trip to France seems like a wonderful dream.

    1. Annie,
      It seemed that way to me, even at the time. One of the other women – interestingly named Ann – also made the comment that when we left Essoyes, the whole place was going to vibrate and lift off as though a great mirage we had experienced together. And it was such a powerfully motivating writing retreat. Inspiration galore!

    1. I love quotes. Once, when a friend had a milestone birthday and requested no gifts, we all decided to give her 60 of things – tea bags, chocolates, bath cubes. You guessed it, I made a little booklet of 60 favorite quotes and added pictures that I thought illustrated each one. She loved it! And so did I! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Great photos and quotes. What a wonderful experience! I’ve been to France three times but have missed a vineyard tour. Sounds like a good reason to go again, right? Sheila

  4. Love champagne so love this blog! Plus, being a Francophile, I once more traveled via someone else’s experience. Thanks for writing about it. I FB and Tweeted this so others can enjoy too.

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the piece and hope you will visit again. I’m loving your site as well. It’s nice that we have met -virtually-each other!

  5. This looks like so much fun! I love champagne,and loved the tour via your blog!
    p.s. Thanks for visiting my blog! Can’t wait to get started reading more of yours 🙂

  6. Paris is my favorite City in the world. When I get there, I am loathe to leave for any reason. This post may have changed my mind. I might venture to the area you mention. You made the sights, smells, and tastes come to life for me! Beautiful photos too. Yes, I will venture from Paris next time!

    1. Worth the trip outside of the city, even if that city is Paris. And like you, I love it! Paris is the perfect mix of modern and old school, tastes, sounds, smells, sights. I suppose that why she has been calling us writers to her lap. Thanks for stopping by.

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