The Widow Clicquot
Who was 4 and a half feet tall with light colored hair and grey eyes and stormed the champagne industry during the French Revolution?
Barbe-Nicole: The Lady Herself
Barbe-Nicole was widowed in 1805, at the age of 23. Women of that time were not allowed to run a business, but widows were exempt from that rule.
The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It, outlines Barbe-Nicole’s story which represents the resilience and grit of widows everywhere.
Barbe-Nicole was the first in her era to choose a bright colored label to mark her product. The bright yellow label, ridiculed at the time, can be seen on shelves today. She turned her kitchen table up-side-down in the cellar to invert the bottles for a clear champagne that was the envy of her competitors. After a long period of no sales overseas, and at the end of the Revolutionary War, Barbe-Nicole made the greatest gamble of her career:
[She authorized] another running of the blockades without permission or security in order to ensure her champagne would be the first to arrive in the profitable Russian market. This time, the shipment made it, fetching prices as high as 5.5 francs per bottle — equivalent to more than $100 today — and establishing Clicquot as Russia’s brand of choice. –Michelle Archer
What does all this have to do with me?
Here’s what happened
I bought a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and planned an impromptu widow get-together.
. . . they came . . .
The five of us shared:
- Toasting small victories
Each story unique . . .
… but with a golden thread that knits us together as one.
We are good medicine for each other, we who are widowed. The Widow Clicquot inspired me to remind myself that no matter how our stories have unfolded we are still here. She kept going. I want to keep going, too.
Thanks, Barbe-Nicole, for being an inspiration from afar.
Thanks widowed friends for the inspiration I gain from your stories. Thanks for the gift you are to me.