If you haven’t heard the name Marie Inès Romelle and her Champagne brand Marie Césaire, it is only a matter of time. Hailed as the first Afro-Caribbean woman with a Champagne brand, Romelle is quickly on her way to making a splash here in the United States. The businesswoman who was born on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and raised in the city of Grigny in France is a true testament that if you see it, believe it and put the work in, there is nothing you can’t do.
It All Begins with a Dream
Just as unique and different as every bottle of wine you will taste, so is the story behind the winemaker. Romelle's is one that movies are made of. A young girl drops out of high school at the age of 16 to help her mother (her father passed away when she was nine), becomes pregnant at 18 and finds a job for financial stability to support herself and her child. She is now working at a delicatessen at Paris Orly Airport and is introduced to wine. The introduction turns into an obsession, specifically for Champagne, and she becomes a self-taught student taking notes, sampling and doing a lot of research. Over the years, she works her way into management overseeing five delicatessens and 60 employees while growing her family and with the dream of making her own Champagne one day.
Searching for more work/life balance, she returns to school and eventually earns her bachelor’s degree in business. However, after two years of working as an asset manager, her Champagne dreams came calling once again and Romelle leaves her job and moves her family down to the Champagne Ardennes region where her partner is originally from.
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A previous business meeting introduces her to a winemaker whose family owns four hectares of vineyard in a classified premier cru village. The winemaker, Mr. Lefevre, agrees to work with Romelle to create her own Champagne brand and from there she never looks back.
Learning the Ropes and Launching a Brand
Being closer to making her dream come to fruition, Romelle knew it was time to roll up her sleeves and digest all there was to know about making Champagne and creating a brand that represented who she was. Her time over the next year would be spent learning every detail about Champagne's magical three grapes (pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay), pruning, tying, harvesting and bottling the wine. Champagne Marie Césaire, named after her mother and father, made its debut in December 2015. By 2018, the brand would hit its first milestone with 10,000 bottles sold.
Champagne Traditions with a West Indian Twist
Staying true to the traditional way of making Champagne, otherwise known as méthode champenoise, Romelle added her own personal touch that celebrates her West Indian heritage by adding sugar cane. This finishing touch gives a little tropical aroma to each vintage which includes Cuvée Brut Premier Cru, Cuvée Rosé Sec, Cuvée Blanc de Blancs, Cuvée Demi Sec and Cuvée Brut Selection.
Together with her brother Jaïro, Romelle is expanding Champagne Marie Césaire to make it available outside of France as well as the rest of Europe and into the Caribbean. Shipping to the U.S. is available by going to the website and contacting their international sales manager, Sylvie Smith.
With one dream realized, Romelle is one to the next one: developing her real estate consulting firm in Reims. In addition, having earned her MBA degree from the University of Reims while building Champagne Marie Césaire, the mother of three plans to teach a master class on business creation later this year.
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Surely there is more to this winemaker’s amazing story and you can look forward to reading it in her biography that is due to be released in 2020.
Meanwhile, visit http://marie-cesaire.com/site/ to learn more about the wine portfolio as well as place an order. Be sure to follow Romelle and the brand on Facebook and Instagram for future releases and distribution updates.