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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.
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.