My Travel Blog

Paying Homage to Dom Perignon | Our Champagne Mission

Our guest had a good nights sleep, and were ready to go.  We were heading out on a champagne mission, but first we needed to eat.  You won’t find any cases of scurvy on the good ship Rabelo.  Lisa made a breakfast of scrambled eggs and cheese; fresh cut melon, coffee and juice, along with toast and pastries from the local patisserie. She offered champagne, but we needed to pace ourselves.  The air was a little brisk, but the skies were clear so breakfast was on deck.  Everyone devoured their meal, as it would have to hold us over until lunch.  After all we were on a mission.

“Sustenance we will need for our champagne mission.”

“This is where we tied up in Epernay.”

Once securely tied up in Epernay the first order of business was to pay homage to The Dom.  That would be Dom Perignon the man who invented champagne.  He was buried in a small church in the village of Hautvillers.  The town is high on a hill with spectacular views surrounded by acres of grand cru vineyards.  We could have strolled the ancient cobbled streets for hours.  With its medieval homes and wrought iron signs depicting life in a different era, visions of simpler times galloped through my head.  I could only dream what life was like three, four, five hundred years ago in this quaint little hamlet.  But there was no time for daydreaming. We were on a mission.

“The view from Hautvillers.”

“Paying homage to The Dom.”

“One of the many wrought iron signs in Hautvillers.”

After lunch it was time for some serious champagne tasting.  We headed for the Cotes-de-Blanc, an area famous for its fine champagne.  There were literally hundreds of vintners to choose from.  Every town and village we drove through had signs pointing to champagne houses offering tastings.  The problem was which one to try first.

I made an executive decision, and pulled into a driveway with a sign announcing tastings for Michel Gonet Champagne. The place looked closed, but we tried the front door and it was open.  A young lady escorted us up to a huge loft that looked over the vineyards.  She then left without a word.  We made ourselves at home inspecting the memorabilia and hand painted champagne bottles.

“The view from Michel Gonet’s loft.”

“One of the many beautiful hand painted bottles.”

Eventually an elderly gentleman joined us. In his broken English he told us to sit wherever we would be comfortable.  He poured everyone the first of many glasses and then we talked, but mostly listened as Michel Gonet told us his life’s story.  His saga started at age four days with a glass of champagne that saved his life.  He now has at least one bottle of champagne a day. During WWII the Germans, English and Americans occupied his chateau.  A German corporal took him under his wing and taught Michel as a young boy to play cards because he reminded him of his son.  We were there for over an hour.  I have no idea how many bottles of champagne we consumed, but everyone walked out with a smile on their face.  Our new friend Michel bid us adieu, as we sped off to continue our champagne mission.

“Michel Gonet.”


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel



About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.