My family have been growing grapes for wine in the Champagne region since 1860.
In those days, the wine growers sold all of their grapes to trading houses each year at harvest time. (Möet et Chandon, Pomery, Roederer, etc.)
These companies, the sole suppliers of Champagne throughout the world, owned very few vineyards themselves (in fact this is still the case), and they were obliged to turn to small wine growers for grape supplies in order to produce their Champagne.
Grapes from Grands Cru areas such as Avize were of course the most sought after, and they were often used to produce the finest vintages.
And then my grandfather, Jean, made a bottle of his own
It wasn't until 1947 that my grandfather, Jean Fannière, decided to produce his own Champagne.
Success came quickly, thanks to the high quality Chardonnay grapes of the Avize Grand Cru. From a few hundred bottles of Champagne in the early years, Jean Fannière was selling around 10,000 bottles of champagne a year by 1959, when his daughter Josette (my mother) and his son-in-law Guy Varnier (my father) took over the management of the vineyard.
My father extended our domain to include the Grand Crus terroirs of Cramant and Oger, two villages close to Avize.
In 1989, I took over the reins from my father
With a degree in winemaking under my belt, I took over the management of the family vineyard in 1989 with one single obsession: to respect the teachings and traditional methods instilled in me by my father and my grandfather.
My goal was to make our family brand famous throughout the world. I am now extremely proud to say that my Champagnes are drunk all over the world, from New York to Tokyo.
The Terroir is the essence of champagne
Champagne is produced, harvested and blended exclusively in the French Champagne region, so defined by its specific soil and subsoil.
The Champagne AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contôlée) covers 33,000 hectares planted across 320 villages.
The specific circumstances of each village (soil, subsoil, microclimate, exposure) led to the development, at the beginning of the last century (1911), of a scale of vintages. A percentage between 80 and 100 % was attributed to each of these villages, based on the quality of the grapes produced there.
The 44 villages classified between 90 and 99 % are known as "Premier Cru". Villages classified as 100 % are known as "Grand Cru" - there are only 17 of them - and they produce the finest grapes in the Champagne region.
Our grape is the Chardonnay
5 km south of Epernay lies the renowned "Côte des Blancs", with its five Grand Cru villages in a row: Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil sur Oger.
The subsoil is composed entirely of belemnite chalk (cuttlefish fossil deposits, the Rolls Royce of the chalk soils of Champagne) of impressive depth on the hillside (up to 10 metres).
The only grape variety produced here is the white Chardonnay, hence the term "Blanc de Blancs" (Champagne from white grapes) which appears on the labels of the bottles produced in these prestigious villages.
Avize Grand Cru
The Avize terroir is not large: barely 262 hectares of Chardonnay grapes.
The neighbouring villages of Avize and Cramant, the original Grands Crus, represent the historical heart of the Côte des Blancs
The Chardonnay grape was introduced to these two villages in the fledgling years of Champagneproduction, appreciated for the bubbles it generated during fermentation.
All the surrounding villages soon followed suit, when the wine growers from this distant time realised that the terroir was perfect for this grape variety, producing fine and elegant wines.
The VARNIER-FANNIERE vineyard in Avize was founded in 1860 by my grandfather's grandfather. It is an honour for me to continue growing grapes in this terroir, after five generations.