BONUS – Dr. Tilar Mazzeo: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

  • October 19, 2018

Ah, champagne… there is something so mysterious, so sexy, so celebratory about this delightful bubbly beverage. But it can be difficult to put our fingers on what exactly this mystical drink represents; maybe it has to do with the trajectory of the drink, the games that were played, and the controversy over the Champagne industry that still translate into each bottle and sip.



As we trace back the history of this delicate treat, it’s impossible not to discuss the importance of Barbe Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin – the Grande Dame of Champagne and one of the most interesting business figures from French history. Her spirit and face are on and in every bottle that we so lovingly sip, as luxury laps over our souls.


“Cheers to women who make really good wine!” –Dr. Tilar Mazzeo


And there’s no one better to help us fold back the layers of this incredible story and the history of champagne than Dr. Tilar Mazzeo, the author of The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It. Dr. Mazzeo is also the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma, Back Lane Wineries of Napa (two incredible guides), and the brand new biography of Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton.


So pop a cork, raise your glass, and let us celebrate our Grande Madame – because it’s International Champagne Day!


We also discuss:

  • How Madame Clicquot transcended her childhood training to become the society wife of a rich man
  • The French Revolution
  • The caves where she made her first bottle
  • Dr. Mazzeo’s research & writing process
  • How Madame Clicquot Ponsardin became one of the biggest tourist attractions in France & kickstarted wine tourism
  • Her legacy as a folk heroine
  • Falling in love over wine
  • Moving champagne from an elite drink to a mass market luxury product
  • Smuggling champagne into Russia
  • The invention that changed the champagne production process
  • Inventing brut champagne to appeal to the British market
  • Being interrupted to pay a corkage fee
  • Dr. Mazzeo’s own wine-making at Parsell Vineyard






Dr. Tilar Mazzeo’s Bio:

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It as well another numerous other books, including most recently Irena’s Children and the first biography Eliza Hamilton, the wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The author of the Back Lane Wineries guides to the family wineries of Napa, Sonoma, and New York State, her wine writing has appeared in venues such as Food & Wine. A graduate of the University of California at Davis winemaking certificate program, she is the winemaker and proprietor at her family’s estate winery, Parsell Vineyard, in Victoria, British Columbia. 

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