Monday, October 23, 2023

Veuve Clicquot and Madame Pommery: Women Champagne Makers in the 1800s

Good morning, dear readers! As you know, I love shining a spotlight on remarkable women in history, so when I had a chance to host author Rebecca Rosenberg and her novels about female Champane makers of the 19th century, I jumped at the chance. 

Welcome, Rebecca!

~ Samantha


Veuve Clicquot and Madame Pommery: Women Champagne Makers in the 1800s

Guest Post by Rebecca Rosenberg

The next time you watch the bubbles rise in a perfectly gorgeous glass of champagne, you might want to toast Veuve Clicquot and Madame Pommery who grappled with the difficult unpredictable art of making champagne in the 1800’s. As well as being mothers, these women dealt with pandemics, laws against women owning business, years of Napoleonic wars, and Napoleon himself to create champagne!

The Legal Loophole that Clicquot and Pommery slipped through!

In the 1800s, women in many countries were legally barred from owning businesses unless they were widows. However, a few women who managed to overcome these legal challenges and become successful champagne makers.

Two of the most notable women champagne makers of the 1800s were Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin and Madame Jeanne Alexandrine Pommery. Both women were widows who pioneered champagne making and forged two of the largest and most successful champagne houses in the world.

Clicquot and Pommery were innovators in the champagne industry. Clicquot developed many of the modern techniques used to make champagne, including the riddling process, which makes champagne clear instead of cloudy. Pommery created the first Brut Champagne, a crisp, dry champagne, instead of the dessert beverage that was popular in the early 1800’s. She also focused on the export market, and she helped to popularize champagne all over the world.

The champagne makers of the 1800s faced many challenges, but they were able to produce some of the finest champagne ever made. Women champagne makers, such as Madame Clicquot and Madame Pommery, were particularly successful in overcoming the legal and social challenges of the time. Their dedication and hard work helped to make champagne one of the most popular and sought-after wines in the world.

Making Champagne in the 1800s

Making champagne in the 1800s was a difficult and challenging task. The winemaking process was not fully understood at the time, and there was a lot of trial and error involved. Champagne makers also had to contend with a number of challenges, including:

· Diseases and pests

· Weather

· Technology

· Logistics

Despite these challenges, champagne makers in the 1800s were able to produce some of the finest champagne ever made. They developed new winemaking techniques and technologies that helped to improve the quality and consistency of their wines. They also worked to develop new markets for champagne, both within France and abroad.

Pandemics of 1800’s (Yes they had them too!)

There were several pandemics that occurred in Europe during the 19th century, including the cholera pandemic of 1830-1833, the plague pandemic of 1855-1858, and the influenza pandemic of 1889-1890. These pandemics had a devastating impact on the European population, killing millions of people and causing widespread social and economic disruption.

The pandemics of the 19th century also had a significant impact on the European economy. They led to disruptions in trade and commerce, and they caused a decline in agricultural production. The pandemics also had a negative impact on the development of new technologies and industries.

The Devastating Effect of Wars on Champagne.

Veuve Clicquot was just starting to make champagne when Napoleon waged twelve years of Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) against the crowns of Europe. Napoleon sought to spread of the French Revolution and dominate Europe. The Napoleonic Wars had a devastating impact on Europe. An estimated 6 million people were killed in the wars, including soldiers and civilians. The wars also caused widespread economic hardship and social disruption.

Madame Pommery faced the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871) when Prussia and the United German states invaded France, and the Prussian army commandeered her home and winery.

Both Clicquot and Pommery had to continue making champagne, even as the armies were stealing it for themselves.

· The wars disrupted trade and commerce, making it difficult for champagne producers to export their wines.

· The wars made it difficult to obtain the raw materials needed to produce champagne, such as grapes and sugar.

· The wars led to a decline in demand for champagne, as people were more focused on surviving than on celebrating.

· The war caused a number of champagne producers to go out of business.

So, when you tip your next glass of champagne, remember what they went through to bring us such pleasure! My favorite champagne quote by my next Champagne Widow:

"I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." ~Lily Bollinger

The Champagne Widows Series


“A-Tour-de-Force” Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize

MADAME POMMERY, Creator of Brut Champagne
"A tour-de-force of historical fiction, Madame Pommery is a deeply fascinating work that blends true-to-life details with artfully crafted elements." --Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize

Madame Pommery is a story of a woman's indomitable spirit in the face of insurmountable odds. Set in Champagne, France in 1860, Madame Pommery is a forty-year-old widow and etiquette teacher whose husband has passed away. Now she must find a way to support her family. With no experience, she decides to make champagne, but no champagne makers will teach her their craft. Undeterred, Madame Pommery begins to secretly excavate champagne caves under the Reims city dump and faces numerous obstacles to achieve her dream. From the Franco-Prussian war that conscripts her son and crew to the Prussian General Frederick Franz occupying her home, Madame Pommery perseveres. She even must choose between her champagne dreams and a marriage proposal from her former lover, a Scottish Baron. Inspired by a true story, Madame Pommery is a heroic tale of a woman's strength and determination to create a champagne legacy. If you enjoyed the novel Sarah's Key, you will enjoy Madame Pommery. 

Get your copy of Madame Pommery, or read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS, the First Woman of Champagne

EDITORS CHOICE HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY This engrossing historical novel by Rebecca Rosenberg follows Veuve Clicquot, a strong-minded woman determined to defy the Napoleon Code and become a master champagne maker. In 1800 France, twenty-year-old Barbe-Nicole inherits her great-grandfather's uncanny sense of smell and uses it to make great champagne, despite the Code prohibiting women from owning a business. When tragedy strikes and she becomes a Veuve (widow), she must grapple with a domineering partner, the complexities of making champagne, and the aftermath of six Napoleon wars. When she falls in love with her sales manager, Louis Bohne, she must choose between losing her winery to her husband to obey the Napoleon Code, or losing Louis. In the ultimate showdown, Veuve Clicquot defies Napoleon himself, risking prison and even death. If you enjoyed books like 'The Widow of the South' by Robert Hicks or 'The Paris Seamstress' by Natasha Lester, you'll love 'Veuve Clicquot'.

Connect with the author:

Rebecca Rosenberg is an award-winning novelist, champagne geek, and lavender farmer. Rebecca first fell in love with methode champenoise in Sonoma Valley, California. Over decades of delicious research, she has explored the wine cellars of France, Spain, Italy, and California in search of fine champagne. When Rebecca discovered the real-life stories of the Champagne Widows of France, she knew she’d dedicate years to telling the stories of these remarkable women who made champagne the worldwide phenomenon it is today. 

Rebecca is a champagne historian, tour guide, and champagne cocktail expert for Breathless Wines. Other award-winning novels include The Secret Life of Mrs. London and Gold Digger, the Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor.

Connect with Rebecca on her websiteFacebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Book Bub, Amazon Author Page, or Goodreads.  


  1. Thank you so much for hosting Rebecca Rosenberg with such a fascinating post.

    Cathie xo
    The Coffee Pot Book Club