The Secrets of Widow Clicquot

Learn more about the fascinating story of the entrepreneurial woman behind the world's most famous champagne.

Many people in the world know about the famous drink known as Veuve Clicquot that carries on its robust yellow-orange label the initials VCP. V for Veuve, C for Clicquot. But what about P? Well, that last letter is the initial of the Ponsardin surname. That name belongs to a woman I came to admire. Barbe Nicole Ponsardin, who at 27 years became Veuve Clicquot which in French means "Widow Clicquot." Her husband François Clicquot died of an inexplicable fever, which many suspected to actually be suicide due to the bad progress of his business. With his death,  François Clicquot left a nearly bankrupt champagne business to the widow Clicquot. Until that time, the business was called "Maison Clicquot," which later on would come to be called Veuve Clicquot thanks to the enterprising mind of Barbe Nicole. Her ambition was of great controversy for the society that existed at the end of the 18th century.
With no formal education for business, a daughter to raise, and still dealing with the last years of the French revolution, Barbe Nicole decided to take over the family winery and defend it like a bulldog. "She even looked like one," says Tilar Mazzeo, author of The Widow Clicquot, a book that tells the story of how the French woman was responsible for the success of Veuve Clicquot champagne. I'm desperate to read the whole book. I can hardly believe what this woman accomplished. It never occurred to me that the person behind the success of this champagne wasn't a he, but actually a she!

 Well continuing the story, her soft, bubbly wines became very popular among all the foreign soldiers fighting in France. When they returned to their countries of origin, they helped create the fame of the drink, which spread throughout Europe. Soon Barbe Nicole became one of the most influential and wealthy women of the time. According to Tilar, the founder of the Clicquot empire was an avant-garde woman who put into practice lessons that are now essential in the modern business world. The two main marketing strategies were wine quality and unique indispensable care with the packaging. She said that her product had to be an object of desire among people. Barbe Nicole died at age 89 without ever remarrying. As for the success of her and her brand, I do not need to say much. However, I want to share some very interesting facts that I discovered by doing my research on this incredible brand.


  * In 1972, the Veuve Clicquot Award for Business Women was created in honor of this fearless and imposing woman. Since its inception, more than 300 women have been awarded prizes in 27 different countries. As a good entrepreneur, I have already added another goal to my bucket list: to win this award with Bellina Caetano.

Veuve Clicquot champagne has a Royal mandate from the UK, which means it is officially approved to be served to the British royal family. Thanks, Queen Elizabeth for always supporting the female legacy.

The winery believes that Pinot Noir adds strength and structure to the delicious champagne.

* Beyond her vision and intelligence, Barbe was also very innovative. Certainly one of her main contributions to wine history was the creation of remuage, a weekly rotation of the bottles. By using this simple but valuable process, the drink would remain clear and crystalline. The remuage technique was kept as a secret by her loyal employees, which gave the brand a tremendous advantage in business. 

Ruinart had already produced rosé champagne by dyeing champagne with red fruit juice, but Veuve Clicquot was the first to produce rosé champagne by adding red wine to its sparkling wine. Made for the first time in 1818.

* Our dear Veuve Clicquot currently belongs to the luxury brand group of Louis Vuitton. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE also owns Moët Chandon and Krüg among others.

"The world is in perpetual motion and we must invent the things of tomorrow. You must go before others, be determined and demanding, and let your intelligence direct your life. Act boldly. "
-Barbe Nicole Ponsardin
(Better known as Veuve Clicquot)
I fell in love with Barbe and the woman she was. I have already ordered my book and want to write more about it as soon as I finish. One thing is for sure: Her legacy is undoubtedly a great example of entrepreneurship. The difficulties and tragedies of life take us out of our comfort zone and into the paradise of creativity. Adversity brings change, and I want to believe that I will have as much courage as Barbe to go on to be a successful business woman.



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