A Day in the Life of a Champagne Maker – Guillaume Tournant

30th June 2021

Guillaume Tournant & Gilles

We talk to Guillaume Tournant, the Champagne maker at Champagne Roger-Constant Lemaire.
Champagne Roger-Constant Lemaire won the title of The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly 2020 with their Trianon 1966.

Guillaume is the grandson of Roger Constant Lemaire. He is continuing the family tradition of producing exceptional Champagne using modern and ecologically friendly techniques. Pictured here with his father, Gilles Tournant, also a talented winemaker.

Q: Is the job as a Champagne maker a 9 to 5 and a 5 day a week job? Early starts and late finishes?

No, it’s not a 9 to 5 and 5 day a week job. Generally I start at 8 am and finish at 6 pm from Monday to Friday and we receive clients for tasting and visits at the weekend as well.
There are special periods, like the harvest and bottling, etc… when I work a lot more, so my working hours are extended. The life of a winemaker is the same as a farmer.

Q: Do you ever taste other Champagne producer wines to explore the competition and their standards?

Yes of course, we frequently organize a “battle of bottles” at home with my winemaker friends.

Q: How important is family history / tradition / skills within Champagne making? How much of what you do today is what you learnt from your father?

It’s extremely important, because it’s a transmission of an important knowledge for generations, from father to son. I cannot just do anything, I have to respect the philosophy of my ancestors: namely the quality of the Champagne and an irreproachable reception. Methods and technology develop, but philosophy remains the same.

Q: Have there been many passionate arguments in the family when it comes to agreeing on the blend?

There’s been a significant progress in family discussions for 40 years. It’s exactly one of the aspects of a 100% family enterprise: every family member gives his/her opinion and waits to be heard. Let’s take the example of malolactic fermentation. Our grandfather, Roger Constant was in favor of this method and it was Gilles (his son-in-law) who proposed to stop to using the malo in order to obtain a better quality wine despite its difficulties.

Nowadays another subject that comes up is Bio. The older generation thinks that bio is ‘marketing’ and useless. On the other hand, the younger generation urges as much as possible to obtain the bio label.
Family debates are part of wine production and yes, we need to accept them… (Regarding the bio the younerg generation won that debate, we are in bio conversion.)

Q: Where are you most happiest? In your vineyards, in your cellars or in your production house?

I feel myself happy everywhere. In my vineyards I’m in the nature and it’s calm. But I’m especially happy in my production house, where I create my cuvees.

Q: If you weren’t a Champagne maker, what would you have been?

Oenologue, because you work in the world of wine as well. It’s a creative profession as well where we create wine for other winemakers.

Glass of Bubbly

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