September 21, 2012

The Ruinart


Deep underground, at the foot of a dizzying stairway, lies an amazing world: the Ruinart cellars, a unique network of caverns belonging to the oldest established champagne house, founded by Nicolas Ruinart in 1729. This way for a guided tour.

More than 30 meters underground, three stories deep and eight kilometers long, the Ruinart cellars were once a chalk quarry, which Claude Ruinart, the founder’s son, bought in 1768 in order to store the company’s precious vintages.

In centuries past, as far back as the Romans, the white stone of Champagne was quarried here, leaving a gigantic warren of majestic, cone-shaped chambers up to 50 meters high, their powdery white walls still scored by the marks of the miners’ tools.

The vast, cathedral-like chambers are ideal for storing wine, with their absolutely stable temperature, complete lack of vibration, and optimum humidity. In their cool, quiet depths, the champagne slowly ferments and matures to perfection.

Over the years, this subterranean labyrinth has witnessed secrets and surprises. In the Middle Ages, traders used it as a secret smuggling route. During World War One, the caverns did duty as schoolrooms, and Ruinart moved its offices down here to escape the shelling that devastated the town of Reims and flattened Ruinart’s buildings.

This truly impressive location has been listed as a national heritage site since 1931. It plunges the visitor into a unique world and offers an unforgettable journey to the depths of the earth.


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