Interview with Fiona Perrin – Founder of Rendez-Vous Champagne
7th April 2023
There is no denying the love for Champagne, it’s a fan favourite, a household name and the go-to Glass of Bubbly for millions, its quality is timeless and the choices of new labels are always expanding, from the well-known Champagne houses, the smaller producers, the Grower Champagnes, and the own labels with their unique blends, the choice for Champagne is remarkable and constant, there is so much to explore it could take you a lifetime, but that life would be well spent.
In this feature we speak with Fiona Perrin, the co-founder of Rendez-Vous Champagne, let’s discover a little about her time in the Champagne Industry and how Rendez-Vous Champagne came to be.
Tell Us About Yourself
“As a native of Lyon, I had the chance to grow in France’s gastronomical capital. I was raised with a culinary and wine culture through my grandparents mainly, they were true epicureans and loved cooking. I eventually learned a few years later that I was the great granddaughter of one of the first Michelin Star Chefs of Paris. At 17, I experienced my first gastronomic dinner for my birthday and realized that I had a true passion and sensitivity for taste and smell but had no idea I would work in this industry.
After I graduated in Marketing & Management from my Business school in Montreal, Canada, I had in mind to work for a Champagne house, as I was fascinated by this product and the magic around it, but I didn’t know anything about wine! So I decided to get a sommelier certificate to know all the basics, get the knowledge and the professional tasting techniques. I remember myself seated at my first class, my glass of wine in my hand, swirling, and it clicked in my head! I had a sort of revelation that it was my path! I truly discovered my passion and followed it from there.”
How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?
“After a start in luxury hospitality and in the high end tea business between France and Canada, I kicked off my career in wine as a sales & sommelier intern in a Château in the South of France. My dream was to come and work in New York and one day it happened. In 2011, at the age of 22 I got hired by one of the most renowned 1st growth Bordeaux to be their Brand Ambassador for North America. I landed in the New York jungle to work a whole country by myself and this is how everything started for me. During 8 years I made my way up working the US market managing and developing distribution for renowned brands and vineyards of the world, from top Chilean wineries to Champagne houses. I also had the luxury to come back for a few months in France and work as Sommelier and Chef Sommelier in Michelin Star restaurants in St Tropez and in Lyon to perfect my knowledge, an experience which was definitely a big plus in my career.”
What Influenced You To Create Rendez-Vous Champagne, and Start Producing Your Own Champagne?
“After all those years working for different houses and brands, I started to tell myself that it was time for a new challenge in my life! Something of mine I would like to create and how I could bring a new idea and concept to the market. It was not just about having a traditional importing company it had to be something different and exciting. I wanted to change perceptions and mentalities in this century old industry and break the codes of what was usually seen.
During my work travels and visits, I saw a real lack in terms of artisanal and sustainable Champagne options. With an industry dominated by big brands, I had the impression customers were stuck with the same commercial Champagnes everywhere, so we wanted to change that and offer a better alternative no matter where you were in the US. Luckily I met my partner at the perfect timing, we both had this visionary idea of what we could do together and jumped right in! We wanted to bring a modern and more conscious Champagne brand to the market with an outsider’s point of view and started the adventure in 2019. That is how Champagne Rendez-Vous was born. The first bottles came out in 2020 in the US market, our brand is produced in partnership with one of the top organic and natural Grower Champagne, to create a Champagne through which we could translate our values and passion that could be a trusted reference for people looking at the same time for high quality and sustainable Champagnes.”
What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Champagne?
“Well first to start with, we were not coming from the Champagne region. I am not from the wine world originally, none of my family already had vineyards or connections in this industry so I had to make myself from the start as well as all my network and connections. Champagne is a very exclusive and close circle, it’s tough to enter this world when you are a not a true ‘Champenois’. So that was a risk we took from the beginning! The risk was very big because it is a very competitive market dominated by major big brands owned by big luxury groups that have financial and marketing power. Starting a new brand no one knew about was very risky, everyone told us we were crazy, we had to make our mark bottle by bottle and be seen as a trusted reference in a new niche.
Then the pandemic hit, doubling our risks and the challenge for us, starting a new Champagne brand during covid mainly through social media! We are 100% self-funded so we put in everything we had and went for it to build something we believed in and change the traditional codes of Champagne. So we built step by step our brand and recognition through social media, especially Instagram. We launched everything digitally. I was building trust and direct contacts with new customers directly through private messages and emails. That was the biggest challenge for us since we started.”
How Do You See The Future Of Champagne?
“The future of Champagne is bright with a new generation of growers leading the path for better and more conscious winemaking. Small growers are showing the bigger houses the way to a more sustainable approach to producing Champagne that is changing what the consumer has always known. Champagne has never been as exciting as today, reconnecting with its terroir and its roots, for a new generation of consumers curious to discover new paths and being more conscious about what they drink. We are proud to play a role in our own way in this small revolution.”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
“I must say I had one of my most memorable experiences with Anselme Selosse in his cellar. He is for me THE reference in terms of truly emotional Champagnes. Whether we love his wines or hate them, he creates wines totally unapologetically with his soul and highly connected intuition. This is for me the highest expectation you can have when tasting a glass of bubbly, a truly unique experience I won’t forget.”
Thank you Fiona, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Fiona Perrin. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.