This New Year's, Raise a Toast to the Strong-Willed Widow Who Reinvented Champagne

Veuve Clicquot made bubbly what it is today

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Tragic deaths generally aren't good for business, with the notable exception of Veuve Clicquot. It was 1805, and Francois Clicquot, the owner of a failing vineyard in Reims, France, was felled by typhoid. His wife, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, had hailed from a wealthy family and easily could have shuttered the business. Instead, she invested her own inheritance in it and took over. She was 27.

Photo: Nick Ferrari

Champagne was not yet widely popular in France, but the widow Clicquot shrewdly courted the palate of Tsar Nicholas I and opened up Russia as a market.

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