The House of Ruinart was officially founded in 1729, as it was only on the 25th May 1728 that a royal decree authorised the transport of champagne wine in baskets containing 50 or 100 bottles. Prior to that date wines could only be transported in casks. However, to be transported champagne wines required thick glass bottles and corks. Therefore the right to transport bottles opened up the market throughout France and even further afield for the wine merchants in Reims.
The great champagne adventure was underway.
So on the 1st of September, 1729,Nicolas Ruinart, himself named Nicolas, opened the very first ledger with the following inscription, “in the name of God and the Virgin Mary, may this book begin”. This document therefore constitutes the official act for the foundation of The House of Ruinart.
France was under the reign of the young King Louis XV, a certain lifestyle and refinement began to influence the market. Until then Nicolas Ruinart had worked for his father in the drapery trade. The clients were essentially the same for both materials and wines. The beginnings were very modest: 170 bottles sold in 1730! However being a very shrewd businessman and noticing a certain decline in this industry he decided to concentrate his efforts towards the production of wine.
From 1733 onwards transactions concerning wines showed a substantial increase. In 1735 as they accounted for the majority of the entries in the ledgers; trading in textiles was doomed to disappear. Wines were sold in the North of France and in the South of Belgium. Their clientele mainly comprised the wealthy middle class, artisans and nobility.
Over a period of the next 30 years the House of Ruinart progressed and developed: in 1764 Nicolas’s son Claude came into the business. Sales on the export were also developed. Germany became the up and coming market for Ruinart. Throughout the following century Claude travelled extensively, his journeys took him as far as America and Russia.
The first quarter of the XIXth Century saw the Ruinarts investing in more vineyards, extending their cellars and developing their clientele. New markets in the South and in England opened up. Irénée’s son Edmond expressed the desire to innovate trading with the New World in particular exploring the United States and met the President General Jackson in 1832.
Ruinart , the oldest champagne house, was also the very first to use the chalk pits to store their precious bottles. In 1760, a century before anyone else Claude Ruinart made the decision to install the commercial premises (offices) on “La Butte du Moulin de la Housse”. Until that date the wines had been stored in the cellars of their private residences, and they also proved to be insufficient others had also been rented in Reims..
The ever increasing activity necessitated another solution and the Ruinarts looked into the use of chalk pits exploited by the Romans. More or less abandoned in the XV111th Century, Claude Ruinart decides to acquire them as cellars. The style of the buildings was strict and regimental resembling barracks rather than a champagne house. They were rebuilt respecting the same style after the First World War.
On the 1st September 1999, on the occasion of the 270th anniversary of the House of Ruinart Daphné du Barry was commissioned for a statue of Dom Thierry Ruinart. The statue inspired by a portrait in the Ruinart archives shows the monk holding a book and a quill.
Of international renown as a sculptress, Dauphné du Barry has pieces of her work in private collections in the United States, France, Spain, Canada and also in her native country of Holland. Her works include a bronze monument representing the Baptism of Clovis by St Remi that was unveiled by Pope Jean – Paul 11 on the square in front of the Basilica on the 22nd September 1999.
The first tribute we paid to Dom Ruinart was actually in 1959 on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the House when we introduced a new cuvee dedicated to him.