My introduction to champagne was in November 1987. The week before I was not even the owner of a suit. We had spent the summer working at racecourses and stadiums delivering the wine, champagne and beer to the masses - Royal Ascot, Cheltenham, Chester racecourse and many more.
Being young you don’t understand the love and passion that goes into the bottle, you work hard and play hard. We all got invited as a team and not just the bosses, so an education and love began. Vineyards, caves and bottling plants in the day with the passion of the people to ensure we walked away as ambassador before knowing about the Champagne Academy.
In 2002 I was invited to attend the Champagne Academy Course which at the time seemed to be a bit like joining an elite club and in some people’s mind you were.
Arriving at Heathrow I was about to start one of the greatest weeks of my life, where I learnt so much more, including the friendship of champagne. The last night of this trip was the night the real journey started, a journey that has brought much pleasure and love. The experience provided by Boyer’s menu at Les Crayères changed my life on many fronts and is still one of my favourite culinary moments. The langoustine was pure heaven.
Once you become an academician it is such a lovely enjoyable place to mix with the trade, family and friends, take a new interest or even find champagne on the journey with you.
In 2012 I became chairman of the Academy at a difficult time in my life and not necessarily best placed for the position. The committee and the presidential house of Heidsieck Monopole, including Sara Hicks held my hand and supported me beyond belief. The class of 2012 was stunning and once again I had the pleasure of a great lunch at Les Crayères on a wonderful sunny day .That year was not only great to be a chairperson but really makes you understand by attending the regional events that you don’t stand alone in the industry while you may not understand the dynamics works hard for the customer experience and the staff that don’t get recognised enough Perhaps that’s why Mike Willison was so adamant that I visit champagne in 1987 .Having completed my year as chairman and with some personal stuff coming into my life, a complete change in direction and with a feel of what next, I found myself moving away from the Academy.
Having spoken with Andrew several times this year it has been great to start following and linking up with old colleagues and friends. Many of the Topics of the Committee meetings in 2002 are now working and the Champagne Academy is very much back on the agenda for me.