Sustainability the Bollinger way reflects the fundamental values of the house, anchored since its creation in 1829. It is a state of mind. It all comes down to a timeless style and preserving traditional savoir-faire. Their values and traditions remain the same. Bollinger’s sense of responsibility is rooted in time: it’s in the history of the Maison, in every decision they make, and in their vision for the future. Since 2017, Charles-Armand De Belenet has been Chief Executive Officer at Champagne Bollinger and with him Bollinger continues its traditional craftmanship while incorporating the best of innovative technologies.
Since 1829, Champagne Bollinger has been making great wines with a powerful, refined and complex style, expressing the aromas of the fruit in all its dimensions.
Among the legendary names whose work contributed to the history of the Maison is Elisabeth Bollinger, one of the Grandes Dames of Champagne. For 30 years, Madame Bollinger combined modern farming techniques with the efficacy of traditional Champenois methods. In particular, she continued to vinify in oak barrels: “It is the traditional methods that count, even if they appear outdated: the quality of my wines is proof of this.” In 1967, she began to sell a champagne that she had developed herself: R.D. – Récemment Dégorgé (“Recently Disgorged”). This innovative champagne was unique in having been aged for years on its lees, and was a great success when it was released. In another miracle for the region, Champagne Bollinger still owned two plots of vines that have been spared by phylloxera. Madame Bollinger therefore decided, in 1969, to make the first “Vieilles Vignes Françaises” (“French Old Vines”).
Their culture as winegrowers stems from the historic roots in the village of Ay, their passion for great wine has been handed down through their family for generations, and as they work the soil, they respect the seasons, biodiversity and their employees.
That’s why the Maison is now formally including these commitments in the brand
Commitment no1- Refining our unique savoir-faire.
The Vine: Champagne Bollinger safeguards a long cultural tradition. The Maison strives to conserve ancestral winegrowing techniques, with vineyards planted en foule, with no grafting, and all work done by hand. These make for an incredible cultural heritage; one that has been continued by the Maison for almost 200 years.
The Cooperage: Our resident cooper maintains each of the Maison’s 4,000 barrels for the perfect revelation of our terroirs. Barrel ageing brings a sense of precision, heightening the taste of our wines.
The Cellar: Every day the Maison works to safeguard cultural traditions. This lends new life to ancient traditions such as entreillage (the horizontal stacking of bottles), remuage (the manual tilting of bottles in wine racks to move sediment), and the way our wine is disgorged à la volée (with no prior preparation). The Maison is therefore able to preserve the unique, authentic character of the wines produced.
The house’s ambition is to Continue the Maison’s most important expertise by creating an in-house Bollinger School of Savoir-Faire. With its official in-house opening planned for 2025, the School intends to open its doors to the public, with a sponsorship programme and training grants.
Commitment no2 – Developing our employees’ culture of excellence
Helping our employees achieve ever greater standards of excellence: At Champagne Bollinger, perfection comes from the everyday actions of our employees. The women and men of the Maison work independently, making the absolute best of their individual skills. The Maison also works to ensure that skills are shared internally, meaning savoir-faire is passed between teams.
Commitment no3 – Ensuring our teams’ wellbeing
Ensuring excellent working conditions: Growing and making wine means tough, physical labour that works in harmony with the seasons. Employee safety is a priority at Champagne Bollinger. Our working environment is designed to limit the risk of accident, and health and safety training is given to every team. Furthermore, we encourage employees to switch between different manual tasks as much as possible, reducing the risk of physical injury from awkward poses and repetitive strain. One example is from our vineyards, where workers switch tasks during winegrowing. Before bottles are labelled, employees change shift every 30 minutes for quality control.
Promoting transparency and exchange: In keeping with the Bollinger family spirit, the Maison aims to promote cohesion between teams by creating opportunities for exchange. Champagne Bollinger organises a survey every two years to hear its employees’ thoughts on where it can improve and what actions can be taken to achieve its goals.
Beyond a simple working environment, the Maison also offers employees the opportunity to maintain close relationships at friendly, informal team days designed for sharing information. These might include our traditional New Year’s celebration, our summer lunch, and the cochelet, a celebration to mark the end of the harvest. Lastly, the Maison implements a charter for responsible alcohol consumption to raise awareness among its employees.
Commitment No4 – Making our vineyards sustainable while preserving biodiversity.
Developing green ways of growing: Champagne Bollinger is deeply invested in the quality of the vineyard’s soil, and in its environment as a whole. Sustainable winegrowing has long been part of the Maison, and is testament to the durability of our vineyards. Looking beyond the traditional approaches in place, in 2012, Champagne Bollinger was the first wine house in France whose vineyards were certified as ‘High Environmental Value’ (HEV). Two years later, it was also the first to receive the Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne certification. These prestigious labels assure the highest standards in environmental practice. Herbicides have also been banned on our vineyards since 2016. Each and every day, the managers of Bollinger vineyards use natural techniques to limit the pressure on the soil. These include the establishment of cover crops, mulching and environmentally-friendly grazing.
Supporting our winemaking partners: Champagne Bollinger only relies upon its most trusted and often longstanding winemaking partners to supply additional grapes. Bollinger’s experts guide these partners towards a progressive approach. Most notably, many have been encouraged to sign up for the Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne certification or HEV.
Aiming to use 100% environmentally friendly biosourced products.
Commitment No5 – Reducing our carbon footprint
Measuring, avoiding and reducing carbon emissions: Champagne Bollinger has carried out a carbon assessment since 2009 which measures the emissions generated from each of its business activities. This allows the Maison to identify ways that it could improve, as well as to implement lower carbon manufacturing processes. With this in mind, Champagne Bollinger is working to reduce its energy consumption. The Maison’s impact is further reduced by the use of renewable electricity and the introduction of electric vehicles such as tractors.
Within Champagne Bollinger, employees are kept informed about sustainable development. Through the actions they make every day, each of our employees contribute to the collective effort towards reducing our environmental impact.
Developing new green packaging: Our packaging is a key reflection of the Maison’s environmental impact. The Marketing and Purchasing Team is working on solutions for greener packaging design.
Commitment No6 – Developing the circular economy
Promoting efficient water consumption: Champagne Bollinger has been taking steps to improve how it uses water, a precious natural resource. Large quantities are currently used throughout the winemaking process. The Maison keeps its water consumption to the strict minimum.
Strengthening waste management: Champagne Bollinger strives to limit its production waste as much as possible. The Maison has implemented an effective residual waste management system, ensuring all waste is sorted and recycled as far as possible. For example, in terms of the vine itself, wood prunings are ground directly into the soil, while stumps are collected and used as fuel for the region’s biomass boilers. Grape residues have also been trialled as compost. In the cellar, all winemaking by-products are also recycled. All fermentation stoppers are recycled by a local business.
Increasing product lifespan: At Champagne Bollinger, time is everything. The Maison is the only producer in Champagne that has a resident cooper. Thanks to the care we give them, our barrels last through the decades. In some cases, this means a lifespan of more than thirty years.
The Maison also prioritises short supply chains, for example it uses wood from the family forest in Cuis to make some of its barrels. Finally, Bollinger has prohibited the use of white glass, which requires more non-recyclable raw material. Our 800,000 reserve magnums, stored in the cellar for many years, are also reused so as to increase the lifespan of glass bottles.
Commitment No7 – Continuing our family heritage
An independent, family-owned business: The Maison has been inextricably linked to the Bollinger family ever since it was founded. The Maison’s heritage representatives, family members and employees guarantee that the excellence of the Bollinger style will stand the test of time. This stability has allowed the Maison to evolve with each new generation, all while maintaining its authenticity and values.
Showcasing local heritage: Champagne Bollinger’s own oenothèque showcases the company’s exceptional winemaking history since the very beginning. It’s all thanks to an extraordinary collection of bottles, the oldest of which date back to 1830.
Champagne Bollinger also has a unique hereditament in the form of property: the historic house on Rue Jules Lobet in Aÿ, the traditional lodges set amongst the vines, the plots of Vieilles Vignes Françaises, and the parcel of La Côte aux Enfants are all also part of the Maison’s heritage.
Protecting our heritage shines a light on the history of the Maison within the Bollinger community.
Commitment No8 – Supporting the local ecosystem
Developing lasting partnerships: The Maison has always strived to create strong, ethical partnerships with each of its suppliers. The Champagne Bollinger Sustainable Purchasing Charter lays out the best practices that have always been in place, highlighting the lasting partnerships the Maison so values.
Choosing short supply chains: Champagne Bollinger has always preferred to work with local partners. Every day, the Maison works closely with a number of businesses from the Champagne region. Our wine racks, for example, are made only 20 km from Aÿ by a carpenter the Maison has worked with for many years.
Contributing to local development: For almost 200 years, Champagne Bollinger has been based in the villages of Aÿ and Cuis. 80% of permanent Bollinger employees live within a 30 km radius of their workplace. Both the Maison and every Bollinger team have a strong desire to help the local community. This includes supporting local residents in their volunteer programmes and school initiatives.
- – Bolstering partnerships with the House’s strategic suppliers by:
- – Applying a responsible purchasing charter which engages Champagne Bollinger and its suppliers to work together on developing sustainable practices.
- – Carrying out a satisfaction survey to identify how to optimise partnerships.