Les Fa’Bulleuses de Champagne

Les Fa’Bulleuses de Champagne

Les Fa'Bulleuses de Champagne (Members)

Prompting our visit to the Champagne region was learning about two new organizations formed by women, La Transmission, (please see its separate bio profile), and Les Fa'Bulleuses de Champagne. The latter is a group of young women from independent champagne houses who came together to promote their champagnes, their region, and their know-how as winemakers.

Laureen Baillette of Champagne Baillette-Prudhomme graciously arranged a visit with herself and three other of its members, Charlotte De Sousa of Champagne De Sousa, Claire Blin of Champagne Mary Sessile, and Mathilde Devarenne of Champagne Rochet-Bocart. Laureen was instrumental in creating this group.

Les Fa'Bulleuses is composed of seven young women winemakers or "vigneron independant" from smaller champagne houses in which the owners make champagne exclusively from grapes of their own vineyards. By design, its members are of approximately the same age and wine region but whose champagne houses represent seven different terroirs.

Our conversation occurred in the cool atmosphere of the cellars of Champagne Baillette-Prudhomme that Laureen's father had created by excavating the chalk underlying the property. In addition to learning about their organization, we had the pleasure of tasting their highly regarded cuvées: the De Sousa Grand Cru Reserve Blanc de Blancs, the Baillette-Prudhomme Premier Cru, and the Rochet-Bocart Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs.

Laureen's personal story is similar to those of others in the organization in that she grew up in a winemaking family and is devoted to continuing the family's farming tradition. Laureen's father died unexpectedly when she was 20 years old, and she joined with her mother and sister to manage the vineyards that had been in the family for six generations. Nothing about producing their house's champagne was recorded by her father — all is written down now — but the family "figured things out and kept things going."

Laureen received her education in viticulture and enology from the University of Reims and prepared herself to be the house's winemaker. When she assumed this role at Champagne Baillette-Prudhomme, Laureen recalled that people were lining up to buy their vineyard and that the general reaction was "in one or two years she will be gone. She is only a girl, she will not succeed." It took several years before others in the region would become comfortable with a woman winemaker.

The members of Les Fa'Bulleuses are all wine grape growers who want to improve viticulture. They came together to brainstorm problems and to share their education and passion for winemaking. Laureen knew Claire from a professional meeting, and Sophie was a friend of hers, etc. Claire came up with the name, "Fa" representing women and "bulle," French for bubble, an iconic property of champagne. All the women have formal certification in viticulture and enology.

A theme of our conversation was the importance of friendship, mutual respect, and sharing. Laureen and Charlotte noted that Les Fa'Bulleuses de Champagne is above all "a story of friendship and mutual respect for each other and for our wine region that is still very masculine." The group is dynamic and creative and works together. Several have small children, and this dimension is a natural part of their friendship and mutual respect.

Activities to Date. Les Fa'Bulleuses is creating quite a buzz in Paris and other locales, and receives positive attention for its innovative marketing and its uplifting views of the "woman in champagne." However, the group still needs to counter stereotypically negative views about women as winemakers.

One creative idea that has been very successful is the Seau Les Fa'Bulleuses (so fabulous!), a colorful, yet elegant cylindrical champagne container that holds seven cuveés, one from each member’s champagne House, and has a handle making it easy to transport. The container transforms into a uniquely decorated stool topped with a handmade cushion.

Their newest project is to include a gift pairing in the champagne container with a map to each champagne house and an invitation to a tasting there.

Les Fa'Bulleuses joined Cerde Femmes de Vin (Circle Women of Wine), a national association that brings together nine regional associations and meets once each year. In 2017, Les Fa'Bulleuses hosted the association in Reims during Le Printemps des Champagnes.

Membership (lt to rt in group photo): Laureen Baillette, Champagne Baillette-Prudhomme, Sophie Milesi, Champagne Guy Mea, Claire Blin Champagne Mary Sessile, Charlotte De Sousa, Champagne De Sousa, Mathilde Devarenne, Champagne Rochet-Bocart, Hélène Beaugrand, Champagne Beaugrand, Delphine Brulez, Champagne Louse Brison.