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An Influence of a Champagne Family on a North American Winery

011515cThis year’s International Wine Tourism Conference takes place in Reims in the Champagne wine region of France. Our thoughts begin to explore this region and the people that make champagne. In our travels to wineries and vineyards in Canada and the United States, we met many winemakers and vineyardists that are from France. Many have set up roots in the new world and have a decidedly French influence on the wines they are crafting. Some have come to North America to escape the destruction by phylloxera, while others wanted to escape conflict or tradition.

A few years ago we met François Scieur a 6th generation winemaker from Champagne. Along with his brother, Jean-Paul, the two established a vineyard and winery in the Canton de l’Est area of Quebec, Canada. At Vignoble le Cep d’Argent, François is the winemaker and Jean-Paul is the vineyard manager. They left behind another brother who runs the family business in Champagne.

François mentioned that when phylloxera became a problem in France, the family used Seyval Blanc to make Champagne. When the two brothers came to Quebec, they planted a vineyard with Seyval Blanc. One reason Jean-Paul and François fell in love with Quebec was,  “We can make wines the way we want.”

The brothers brought with them to the New World a press. A sign posts “A real collector’s item. It originates from France in the Champagne region. This press was built in 1957 and was used since then in the Scieur family, wine producers for 6 generations. In 1988, following one of his owners, it arrived by boat in Quebec, proudly serving us until 1997.”


François Scieur demonstrates how he disgorges a bottle of sparkling wine.

François Scieur demonstrates how he disgorges a bottle of sparkling wine.

François enjoys making sparkling wine in the traditional method. In the winery riddling of sparkling wines is done by hand. Bottles are placed on a riddling rack. François mentioned that a skilled winemaker can riddle 45,000 bottles a day. Disgorgement is done by hand one at a time. Dosage and corking is also done by hand. François greeted us and demonstrated how he disgorges a bottle by hand. He is very quick and if you blinked you missed it.


We tasted several sparkling wines including the 2009 Sélection Blanc de Blancs. The wine was a straw color and was made with Seyval Blanc. The aroma and taste were of baked breads, floral and a hint of citrus. The finish was refreshing. There was a constant stream of tiny bubbles.

Enjoy the video of François disgorging a bottle of sparkling wine.




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