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Dom Pérignon Tour: History & Experience of the Champagne House

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Are you a champagne connoisseur or starting to explore the fascinating world of wine? If yes, you have ALL the reasons to get excited with this review. I’ve prepared a thorough guide to the world-famous and highly prized first vintage-only champagne, Dom Pérignon.

In this Dom Pérignon tour, you’ll learn about the history of this famous French champagne brand and its founder, Dom Pierre Pérignon, a benedictine monk who has inspired some of the world’s greatest wine creators.

You’ll also know how to get there and what to expect on your visit—including whether it’s possible to taste only the best grapes yourself.

History of Dom Pierre Pérignon

Statue of Dom Pierre Perignon at Moet & Chandon
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Dom Pierre Pérignon is synonymous with luxury, extravagance, and champagne. As Pierre stated in September 1694, his goal was to develop “the best wine in the world,” his work with Pinot Noir paved the way.

Pierre’s story began in the small village of Hautvillers in 1638 when he was ordained as a Benedictine monk. Pierre became known for his passion for winemaking and his eye for quality.

He became the most renowned “chef de Cave” or cellar master (or literally “cave chief”) of his time. He implemented many techniques to improve the process of making wine, many of which are still used today.

In 1668, Pierre was appointed as cellarmaster of the Abbey of Hautvillers. And he made some outstanding contributions to the world of fine wine.

Pierre’s biggest contribution to the world of wine was his development and perfection of champagne production. He once tasted a glass of bubbly from one of his bottles and exclaimed, “I am drinking stars!”

Only a few vineyards in the Champagne region have been designated as Grand Cru. To be classified as Grand Cru, the champagne must be made using grapes from these vineyards.

Dom Pérignon vintage is created with grapes from Grand Cru vineyards. Each blend also includes grapes from the original Premier Cru property in the Abbey of Hautvillers.

Hand holding Dom Perignon Vintage 2009 Champagne bottle amidst blurred lights, exuding luxury and celebration.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

During his time at the abbey, Pierre experimented with blending different grapes. He pressed techniques to create what we know today as Dom Pérignon. His legacy lives on in every bottle that bears his name, a reminder of history’s importance in shaping our present-day culture.

Where is Dom Pérignon in France?

Front of Moet and Chandon in Epernay, France
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Dom Pérignon is located in the Moët & Chandon building in Épernay, a town in the Champagne region. What makes this champagne house so special? It preserves the foundational legacy of modern champagne-making today. It is considered the birthplace of champagne.

It’s important to note that Épernay is not a large city surrounded by many other smaller towns. There are about 20 different municipalities within 10 minutes of driving from Dom Pérignon’s location. The location is highly strategic as these adjacent regions are where Dom Pérignon curates only the best grapes from Grand Cru vineyards in these municipalities.

So, if you’re planning on visiting this iconic destination, make sure you know where it’s located before you go because otherwise, it could be challenging for anyone else who isn’t familiar with the area. And I highly recommend it, because this corner of France is about as gorgeous as it gets.

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in Europe

How to get to the Dom Pérignon Champagne House

Champagne Mobillion Vineyards
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The easiest way to get to Dom Pérignon in Épernay is to drive from Paris or Charles de Gaulle Airport. Ultimately, the best way to get there is through a private tour with stops at many champagne houses. It is one of the best day trips from Paris, particularly if you love fine wine.

Alternatively, you can also take a fast train from Paris to Reims to visit champagne houses. Getting to Epernay via train is a bit more of a challenge as it’s a smaller town than Reims, and it may include a transfer or two.

For us, that’s what we exactly did. We were doing a full Champagne region tour, so we started in Reims and then ended up in Epernay from there.

The trip from Paris is about an hour in traffic, and the drive from Charles de Gaulle Airport is about 2 hours. The Dom Pérignon is in the center of Epernay along the historic Avenue de Champagne, so your driver should have no problem finding it.

Can you visit Dom Pérignon cellars?

Hot Air Balloon Above Moet and Chandon in Epernay, France
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Dom Pérignon is not open to the public but is available for tours through a private tour. This is your opportunity to see where some of the best champagne in the world gets made. You’ll learn how Pinot noir and Chardonnay became two of the world’s most famous grapes that formed champagne.

The tour will also show how they age their wine and where it’s stored before being bottled. The cellar is impressive with its vaulted ceiling and cool temperature-controlled rooms. It has a unique, almost hallowed atmosphere as you walk through them. Snagging that private tour can be a little tricky. Worry not, though; you can still visit other remarkable regional cellars.

As well as other cellars you can visit in Épernay, there are other cellars in nearby Reims open for tours around town, like the famous Veuve Clicquot cellar. So, if you didn’t get tickets to the Dom Pérignon experience, it’s not the end of the world – nor the glass.

See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in France to Visit

Dom Pérignon Tour

Bottles of Dom Perignon Aging in the Cave
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As a fan of champagne, I was eager to learn more about the history and process behind Dom Pérignon. The folks at Dom Pérignon were great to chat with and were kind enough to accept me on a private tour, so now I am one step closer to dying happy.

The tour begins at the main visitor center of Moët & Chandon. You can watch a short video about how Dom Pérignon inspires and its impact on French history.

From there, your guide will take you on a walking tour through their cellars—a surreal experience where you can visit Napolean’s cellar, the dedicated locker for the cellar master, and learn more about the history of the incredible curation of this fine wine. The cellar includes bottles upon bottles of aging champagne. It’s staggering.

You’ll also get a chance to learn about the production process, including how vintages are curated, the bottle aging process, and how their approach to adding sugar makes this such a unique style of wine.

At the end of the walking tour, you’ll end your visit to the garden courtyard for the best part…the wine tasting! You’ll get a chance to enjoy the elegance, ripeness, and freshness of one of the best wines on Earth. Here are additional photos of our experience on the tour and what the tour included.

Intro in the Lobby

In the first part of the tour, you’ll get a brief history tour of the Moët & Chandon building as well as what is about to come on the tour. You’ll get an overview of what makes this region so truly special by looking at the map of Grand Cru vineyards from which they source their grapes. See the image below for the map.

Grape Sourcing Map at Moet & Chandon, Epernay
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

I also enjoyed this appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II crest to the Purveyors of Champagne, Moët & Chandon. These crests were labeled on many British products that the late, great Elizabeth II deemed fit for a queen. This is the first and only one I’ve seen as a sculpture – which I assume she enjoyed a good drop of Moët & Chandon! RIP, your Majesty.

Queen Elizabeth's Appointment of Dom Perignon
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTraveler

You’ll start the tour from here by entering the cave and cellars, where more history and wine education unfold.

See Related: Things to Do in Reims, France

Entering the Cellars and Cave

Stained Glass Entrance to the Dom Perignon Cave
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you think of words like “cave” and cellar, you’d be forgiven for picturing cobwebs, dusty barrels, and a certain dinginess. Once you get downstairs, there is a bit of that, but it’s not without a decent amount of fanfare. I loved this amazing, completely unexpected stained glass before entering the historic cellar and cave. Worthy of a cathedral, it’s a nice reminder of Dom Pérignon’s history.

Walking Tour of the Champagne Cave

Dom Perignon Wood Barrel in the Cellar
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers
Dusty Bottles of Dom Perignon
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers
Dom Perignon Wine Cave
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

I initially couldn’t decide whether or not the cave reminded me of something out of Game of Thrones or an old war movie, but that voice was soon stifled just by the sheer spectacle of thousands of dusty bottles of champagne lined up in row after row of shelves. As well as being slightly chilly, the air hums with a tangible sense of something truly special happening down here.

Napoleon’s Love for Dom Pérignon (And Champagne in General)

Sign for Napoleon the Great at Dom Perignon Cave
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Believe it or not, Napoleon Bonaparte met Claude Moët during military school and became close personal friends ever since. Napoleon had his storage cellar here at Moët & Chandon, which you will see during the cellar tour along with a sign of dedication.

Napoleon wasn’t just a massive Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon fan. He loved champagne. It was always carried with him and his army during battle. He, his generals, and his staff would drink champagne after victory to celebrate.

But most importantly, did you know that Napoleon was allegedly the first to open a bottle of champagne with a saber? This is still done regularly in restaurants, just with a tad bit smaller of a knife. However, some European armies with cavalry regiments (traditionally Hussars) still enjoy the practice with a full-length saber…from horseback!

See Related: Champagne Region Travel Guide

Military History of the Cave

World War I Etchings on the Wall at Dom Perignon
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Another military gem I learned during the tour is that the cellar was used during World War I for cover during artillery bombardments and air raids and for those needing shelter. There are still etchings on the cave walls, which sparked a serious drop in my stomach as it made the war feel ever so real and present at that moment.

Champagne Tasting in the Garden

Garden at Moët & Chandon Champagne House
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

It’s the best moment of any tasting or vineyard tour out there…the time to taste what you’ve learned. The tour finishes at the beautiful garden, where you can enjoy some Dom Pérignon.

For our tasting as a group of 4 people, we finished a traditional bottle of Dom Pérignon champagne and a bottle of Dom Pérignon rosé champagne. It didn’t taste so much as it drank a substantial amount of wine. No regrets about that!

This wine tour is a one-of-a-kind experience that has been designed to provide a unique look into the world of Dom Pierre Pérignon, champagne, luxury, and the passion for excellence of curating excellent wine, and it does just that.

This is a great way to learn about each step in champagne production and get an exclusive look at the history of the brand’s iconic bottle design, how it came to be, and what makes these bottles so special. I cannot recommend it enough.

See Related: Best Wine Tours Near Paris

BONUS: Other Wine Tours Of The Champagne Region

Perrier-Jouët Champagne House in Epernay
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

There are other opportunities to sample Dom Pérignon and some of the area’s other fine wines, which are well worth your time. Here are a couple that might spark some interest:

Dom Pérignon Cellar & Tasting Tour

Entrance Sign at the Moet & Chandon Champagne House, Epernay
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

This Dom Pérignon Cellar & Tasting Tour is an unforgettable experience for any champagne lover. This tour takes you through the Dom Pérignon estate in Hautvillers, France. It is where the legendary champagne was created over 300 years ago.

You’ll visit the abbey ruins and learn about the history and production of Dom Pérignon. You can taste a selection of grapes harvested and turned into different wines. The tour also includes visits to nearby Reims and its vineyards to taste a sample of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Cuvée varieties.

As a special treat, you can try limited-edition bottles of Lady Gaga’s Dom Pérignon Rosé brand. Whether you’re a connoisseur or starting to explore the fascinating world of wine, this day tour will be a lifetime trip.

See Related: Things to Do in Chablis

Sightseeing of Avenue de Champagne in Épernay

Michel Gonet Champagne House, Epernay
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Avenue de Champagne in Épernay is a must-see on any tour of the Champagne region. As the capital of champagne, Épernay is home to many famous champagne houses. It features the famous Moët & Chandon and the perfect blend of other iconic champagne houses and boutiques such as Perrier-Jouët, Michel Gonet, Mercier, and so many others. It’s the Mecca of champagne.

The Avenue de Champagne (or Champagne Avenue) stretches over 1.2 miles, lined with grand mansions and four-hundred-year-old champagne houses. Sightseeing in this area is an absolute must, along with scheduling other tours of the cellars or simply sampling wine in their tasting rooms. Or they can admire the architecture from the outside.

Some of these mansions are turned into museums that showcase champagne-making. If you want a unique experience, Avenue de Champagne is one of the best places to visit in France for sightseeing.

A Bucket-List Worthy Experience

Front of Moet and Chandon in Epernay, France
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Dom Pérignon tour is a unique experience designed to provide a unique look into the world of Dom Pierre Pérignon, champagne, and luxury. The tour includes an exclusive look at the history of the brand’s iconic bottle design and how it came to be. And you’ll learn about each step in champagne production.

Afterward, you’ll head out on foot with your group, taste four different types of sparkling wine, and learn more about what makes these bottles so special. If you’re debating between this tour and one of the many other tours of the Champagne region, we highly recommend taking the leap and reserving your spot to tour the best of the best.

FAQs

What is the best vintage champagne?

There’s no such thing as the best vintage champagne because each bottle of Dom Pérignon includes grapes from a single year, highlighting the distinct vintage qualities. Dom Pérignon does not make non-vintage wines, preferring to prioritize quality above quantity.

Why is Dom Pérignon so expensive?

Dom Pérignon vintages are matured for at least seven years and use the best grapes from Grand Cru vineyards in the Champagne region of France.

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