There are over 14,000 “vignerons”, or growers, who own the vineyards and grow the grapes used in Champagne. Many of the vignerons have long-standing contracts with Champagne producers. While upwards of 80% of the growers operate on these contracts, some dating back to the late 1800’s, some of the vignerons produce their own Champagnes. These are usually from small parcels of land, and show distinct terroir. There is no saying whether a grower or a maison is “better,” they are simply different.
A grower is able to create a distinct, individual style, however will be at the whim of their small pieces of land, which could result in a vintage without a viable harvest. On the other hand, a large maison has the power of choice. In a challenging year, they can source from the areas with the best grapes. This privilege of choice also allows them to make a consistent and distinct style from year to year, regardless of weather conditions, which are often less than optimal in this challenging region.