New Year’s Eve has long been associated with a Champagne toast and the promise of new beginnings.
This festive, effervescent tradition dates directly to the 19th century, when Champagne houses began catering to individuals with new fortunes acquired during the Industrial Revolution. Symbolically, the custom reaches back much farther—to 496, when King Clovis of France converted to Christianity for his wife, Clotilde. He ushered in a new era in France and sparked a ritual by which new French kings began their reign in the city of Reims, celebrating afterwards with Champagne toasts. (The wines were still back then, but they were festive all the same.)
Until recently, Champagne houses have generally remained large operations. Established houses make the vast majority of their bubbly brews from a mélange of grapes grown by multiple vignerons throughout the entire Champagne appellation. The final wines are usually blends of several vintages and aim to create a “house style” for consistency. Some of those houses have established American outposts. Champagne Roederer’s California counterpart is called Roederer Estate. Taittinger’s American offshoot is Domaine Carneros. Piper Sonoma is the American sibling of Remy-Cointreau’s Piper-Heidseick Champagne Brand.