First Press Vol. 26 No. 04


Historic Sailing Expedition Celebrates the Adventures of Charles-Camille Heidsieck


Saint-Malo, (FRANCE) —Tuesday. April 12, 2022 – Charles Heidsieck, one of Champagne’s most admired producers, announced it is sending its newest releases to the US by sailboat. Featuring a cargo of a limited number of prestigious bottles, the historic journey celebrates the bicentennial of the House’s Founder, Charles-Camille Heidsieck. It will sail across the Atlantic to arrive in New York, following Charle’s journey in 1852. 

The sailboat launches from the port of Saint-Malo, Brittany, arriving in New York in time to celebrate Charles’ 200th birth date on June 17. The shipment has been entrusted to the French sail company, Grain de Sail, for a transatlantic crossing onboard its cargo sailboat – the first modern, regulated merchant shipping cargo sailboat in the world – truly following in Charles’ footsteps, who made his own crossings by sea. The journey can be followed online at 

For Charles Heidsieck’s Managing Director, Stephen Leroux, the partnership reflects the House’s tribute and commitment to the Founder’s sense of adventure: “Transport by sea is an integral part of our history: that is how Charles Heidsieck supplied the American market. We chose Grain de Sail as a partner because it is more than just a company; it is an adventure. We share many key values, such as patience, a daring and entrepreneurial spirit, the world of sea, and respect for ancestral skills whilst cultivating innovation.”

Charles personally chose the US as his first market back in 1852, as explained by Stephen Leroux: “To celebrate our 200 years of adventure, we are paying tribute to our Founder’s travels to the United States in our own way: taking our – slow – time, in a daring and entrepreneurial approach, and innovative spirit,” Stephen said.

For Jacques Barreau, co-founder and Executive Director at Grain de Sail, carrying the House’s legendary cargo perfectly befits their own sense of adventure: “An adventurous spirit is essential at Grain de Sail, including our environmental approach. I am sure that Charles Heidsieck himself would have been delighted with the partnership between our two companies, which gives special meaning to the exceptional products created by the House in tribute to its Founder. It is a pleasure to be working together.”  

The House has a long connection to sailing with several racing boats bearing the Charles Heidsieck name in global races in the 70s and 80s, including ‘Charles Heidsieck III,’ specially designed for the most extraordinary international race. This great monohull sailed the Whitbread Round the World Race from August 1981 to March 1982.

The House plans a long-term relationship with Grain de Sail, making one delivery a year via the North Atlantic and taking on other routes as the partnership develops.

Leroux loves the idea that the shipment is not on a strict deadline to arrive on US shores.

“For us, taking our time is a good thing. We leave our wines until they are fully matured, and we think that a slower pace allows you to appreciate things in life, and we really like the idea that our wines will get there when they get there,” Stephen said.

2022 marks 200 years since the birth of its Founder, Charles Heidsieck. He was a gentleman-entrepreneur with a taste for adventure, bold and pioneering. He would thoroughly and passionately pave the way for the champagne market in the mid-19th century by converting Americans to his own cuvées, earning him legendary status across the Atlantic and the nickname “Champagne Charlie.”


Champagne Charles Heidsieck is one of the most respected Champagne houses, based in Reims, France. Founded in 1851, Champagne Charles Heidsieck is among the few prestige brands carrying the Grandes Marques distinction and the first producer to bring Champagne to the United States. Five generations have been responsible for the House’s fortune, carrying the initial vision of a champagne of extreme quality. Since 1851, the authenticity and conviction of the man known to the Americans as ‘Champagne Charlie’ have inspired the unique signature of his champagnes matured in the House’s chalk cellars. Charles Heidsieck champagnes offer a unique blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, combined with more than 50 percent of mature Charles Heidsieck reserve wines aged for an average of 10 years. Each bottle matures in chalk cellars for more than three years, up to 40 years for collector bottles. This maturation time is essential for developing the aromatic complexity, the silky texture, and refined quality typical of Charles Heidsieck champagnes. 

Acclaimed internationally, Champagne Charles Heidsieck has been named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year thirteen times at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and awarded numerous Grand Or medals, Best in Show, Trophies, and Gold medals during its illustrious history. Its purchase in 2011 by Christofer Descours and the EPI group enabled Charles Heidsieck to quickly bounce back with a new and international ambition.  


The Grain de Sail adventure was born in 2010 in the waters of Morlaix, Brittany, from the audacious idea of fetching coffee and chocolate from the other side of the world whilst limiting CO2 emissions as much as possible by using a unique mode of transport: the cargo sailboat. 

We transport coffee and chocolate in France and wine to New York. We always prioritize products that showcase taste. Every day we strive to select high-quality, organic products that are gourmet, delicious, and from sustainable sources. But Grain de Sail is also a human adventure that brings together committed and passionate men and women. Our project unites people who aspire to build a company with meaning, where everyone does their bit.

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Penny is a wine, spirits, food, and travel writer. Her sensory examination and evaluation of wine and food are noteworthy. Penny has a popular website called The WineKnitter that takes you with her to discover wine/spirits, travel, food, and culture worldwide. She began her serious foray into the world of wine in the early 1980s, where she was part of three very successful family-owned restaurants in NYC and "cut her teeth,” so to speak, with wines such as Petrus, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, Cristal, etc. Penny has an extensive presence on many social media sites, and her education is ongoing with wine seminars, wine tastings, and culinary delights from around the world. She studied at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, completed WSET Level 2 Certification with Distinction, and is continuing with Level 3, advanced certification in wine. Penny is a member of The Wine Media Guild.


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