A Belgian at the helm of Europe’s largest vineyard
With over 40 years’ experience in Champagne production, Paul-François Vranken has built a veritable empire in the wine industry. The Vranken group now extends from California to Portugal, including England, Provence and Champagne. In terms of numbers, it represents a production of approximately 18 million bottles of Champagne a year.
The Vranken Champagne house was founded in 1975. At the time, Paul-François Vranken, then aged 28, decided to purchase 16 tonnes of grapes to transform into Champagne.
This would be the start of a long adventure that would result in him purchasing several houses such as Veuve Monnier, Charles Lafitte and even Pommery. The Vranken-Pommery Monopole group has continued to grow to the point that it is now the second largest group in Champagne (behind LVMH) and is also listed on the Brussels and Paris stock exchanges.
Paul-François Vranken explains these acquisitions through the need to guarantee a grape supply. Reputed to be hard in business, he has also concentrated on reviving grape growing in the Camargue. It was in this region that he acquired the Listel estate and its 15 million bottles, before selling and repositioning himself on more qualitative wine. The Belgian is also working on an alternative to Champagne, since its production is limited by its name while paradoxically, demand for champagne is increasing. This is why the group has set up in the Camargue and in California in sparkling wines, a more affordable alternative which respects a traditional method.
The other challenge that the Group’s Chairman wants to address is the transition to organic plantations; 900 of the 2,600 hectares that the group operates are already organic. By next year, the group hopes to operate an additional 500 to 600 hectares organically.
New supplier to the Court
In addition, 2018 is coming to an end beautifully for the Vranken-Pommery group, which has been on the official list of suppliers of the Court since 22 November. A great recognition that highlights the talent and professionalism that he has shown in its development. A fact that seems to correspond to Paul-François Vranken’s chosen path.