Here are the top champagne houses you must visit in Epernay, France.
The Champagne region is situated in the French Ardennes, where the subsoil consists of a thick layer of lime chalk and rich soil. In fact, some claim that the region has the most suitable conditions for growing grapes.
Legend has it that Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk, discovered Champagne in 1688 by applying a second fermentation that produced bubbles. This delightful beverage became so popular that there are now over 15,000 distinct Champagnes available from the region’s 200 Champagne villages.
But experts say that some of the best bottles are produced in Epernay. That is why in this article, we’ll share with you the best champagne houses in the city that are worth going to!
Visiting Champagne Houses in Epernay
Unlike wineries in Argentina, New Zealand, and South Africa, visiting a Champagne house in Epernay usually does not include a vineyard tour. Most Epernay wineries have their vineyards scattered around the countryside. Some of them just buy grapes from farmers, too.
So, a visit to a Champagne house in Epernay typically involves limited sampling and, in some cases, a guided tour. The cost of the champagne tasting is generally between €10 and €30 per person, depending on whether it has a traditional tour. Some wine houses may refund the cost of the tastings if you purchase more bottles of their champagne.
Take note that a bottle of Champagne may cost as little as €20 to as much as several hundreds of euros.
Champagne Houses To Visit Along Avenue De Champagne
When in Epernay, one must walk to the legendary Avenue de Champagne. This street is about a kilometer long and is flanked on both sides by prestigious houses of Champagne, meticulously built over many generations. Some were constructed as corporate headquarters, while others were built as the own residence of the proprietors.
Several elegant cellars were built in the late 17th century; and by the end of the 18th century, the avenue had become the preferred location of pioneering Epernay Champagne makers.
The coming of the railway, too, resulted in a rise in trade, which prompted a love for grandiose buildings. Because of this, Avenue de Champagne became home to extravagant houses of many styles, which were periodically rebuilt after several wars.
Möet & Chandon, Mercier, and Boizel are among the world-famous occupants of the Avenue.
1. Champagne Moët et Chandon
Founded by Claude Möet, Möet et Chandon is possibly the world’s most popular champagne and one of the oldest champagne houses today.
As you step into its courtyard, you are met with a statue of Dom Perignon. Möet et Chandon offers four packages ranging from €25 to €48. (Most visitors recommended their Grand Vintage Tour!) The standard trip includes an hour tour of their cellars and a glass of champagne in their private tasting area. Plus, you’ll learn some history of sparkling wine along the way!
You’ll also discover more about Claude Möet’s grandson, Jean-Remy, who is credited with establishing the brand through his association with Napoleon Bonaparte.
2. Champagne Mercier
Another major producer of champagne here is Mercier. Eugène Mercier founded the family company in 1858 to make high-quality champagne accessible to everybody. He constructed underground cellars directly below the house, which are tall enough for guests to explore in horse-drawn carriages.
The foyer of the champagne house is occupied by a big wooden barrel that was brought to the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The barrel, called foundre, could hold more than 200,000 bottles of champagne.
The train excursion is a self-guided tour with audio in English, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and Portuguese translations.
Along the train ride, you will see hundreds of champagne bottles in different states of maturation.
3. Champagne Boizel
The stunning rebuilt wine cellars of Champagne Boizel date back to 1834, when couple Auguste and Julie Boizel established their wine business.
There are three cellar visit packages available from Boizel: Essentiel (€28), Millesime (€34), and Joyau de France (€50). The Treasury Vault, which houses the greatest bottles from each generation, is the centerpiece of their cellar tours.
Visit Champagne Boizel’s official website for additional information on these cellar visits.
4. Champagne Paul-Etienne Saint Germain
One of the region’s newest and smallest champagne houses is Champagne Paul-Etienne Saint Germain. This small champagne house is managed by a lovely husband-and-wife pair who both have a genuine love for champagne.
This champagne house is ideal for those who like more intimate and lesser-known establishments. You may sample three of their champagnes for just €20.
5. A. Bergère Champagne House
Another relative newcomer to the realm of champagne manufacturing is A. Bergère. This champagne brand was founded in 1949 and eventually established its reputation by situating its champagne house in 2007 on the famed Avenue de Champagne.
Many Champagnes in Epernay are a blend of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay grapes, but A. Bergère’s Brut Nature is created entirely of Chardonnay. The tours are only available on weekends; however, the store is open every day.
Other Champagne Houses To Visit in and Around Epernay
6. Champagne De Castellane
Champagne De Castellane, founded in 1895 by Viscount Florens de Castellane, stands out because of its spectacular Art Nouveau buildings and its enormous tower. Not only is the structure magnificent from the exterior, but it also has a large wine barrel that leads into De Castellane’s amazing wine vaults.
During the trip, you will go through sections of the wine cellars that are nearly 6,000 meters long.
Of course, a trip to Champagne De Castellane isn’t complete until you climb the tower, which offers a stunning view of Epernay and its surroundings.
TRIVIA: At Champagne De Castellane, a bottle of Champagne must mature for at least two years before it has the appropriate flavor; and it may occasionally stay in the vaults for up to ten years.
Champagne Houses To Visit in Hautvillers, Champagne Region
You may also venture outside of Epernay’s downtown area to Hautvillers, which is just a 10-minute drive up the hill and offers vast views of the beautiful vineyards.
Hautvillers, surrounded by vine-covered hills, is a charming community with family-run champagne establishments offering samples. The winding lanes are dotted with classic champenois houses and traditional wine shops.
Below are two of the best champagne houses in Hautvillers:
7. Champagne G. Tribaut
Champagne G. Tribaut is a lovely mansion on the outskirts of Hautvillers.
This champagne house has just been rebuilt and looks very stylish. They feature floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a stunning view of the valley as you sample their champagne. The conservatory offers a spectacular view of the vineyards, valley, and the rolling hills beyond.
There are no guided tours. However, there is a patio outside where you may enjoy the sun while having a taste of their champagne throughout the summer months.
What we enjoy about Champagne G. Tribaut is that three samples are just €10!
You don’t need a reservation to get there, but keep in mind that they shut for lunch between 12 and 2 PM. Also, the mansion is quite popular; scheduling an appointment before visiting is strongly advised.
8. Champagne JM. Gobillard et Fils
Hautvillers is also home to the Champagne company J.M. Gobillard et Fils. Inside, where the tasting room is constantly packed, champagne tasting and wine tasting activities are available.
It should be noted, however, that a guided tour is not available here.
The tiny church Abbaye Saint-Pierre, where Dom Perignon is buried, lies diagonally opposite this property and is well worth a visit!