At that time and since the middle ages, vines in Champagne had been planted « en foule », in other words, without any apparent order and in great density (4 or 5 vines per square meter). Colossal manual labour was the order of the day. It was when Ludovic BRUGNON turned 20 yrs. old, born in Crugny, that he arrived in Ecueil, armed with his mattock, as his grandson, Marc 89 yrs. old fondly remembers. Ludovic settles in Ecueil, as a contract worker, and work was plentiful. In 1898, he marries, and little by little, buys some vines. Ludovic and Henriette will go onto have two sons, Maurice and Marcel, but only one of them will choose to become a wine grower. The Champenois will hear about a curse that is invading vineyards in the South of France by the root, but they find it hard to believe. The year that Ludovic got married, will also be the year in which Association Viticole MAURICE was created (1900-1989)
THE FOUNDER OF THE
Maurice will be born and grow up during the worst crisis ever known in Champagne. A greenfly/aphid, almost invisible will ravage the vines. With the first world war, vignerons will not stand a chance of stopping the parasite. Every vine will have to be uprooted. But this is when we will learn how to graft a vine onto resisting roots and Maurice, at the age of 18 at the end of the war, is able to carry out 4000 grafts “fentes anglaises’ and will have a 50% success rate once replanted after a stint in the nursery.
He is also a young intelligent man and has a keen business sense. He knows that the few vines the family owns (22 ares) are not enough to survive on. So, he decides to offer his services to banks and insurance brokers to collect and distribute funds, hard cash, for the local farmers. On his bike. Upon the death of his father in 1942, and thanks to his savings and his determination, and as his young brother prefers the city and the world, he will take over the farm and will soon not only cultivate his vines but will go onto make wine.
A MAN WITH A TRUE COMMITMENT FOR THE CHAMPAGNE REGION
The war is rumbling again. But for the 7-yr. old Marc, the debacle and exodus will barely last the summer of 1940. By August the family will be able to return to Ecueil in the family SIMCA 8, where we still live today, to find their grandparents delighted to see them arrive! After the war, Marc proves himself to be a good pupil. He would have so liked to continue his studies, but Maurice wouldn’t hear of it. Well we’ll see about that! Marc will not sit quietly. At the age of 24, in 1957, he will take over the business, and will manage to increase the vineyard from 1ha 40 to 4 Ha between 1945 and 1960.It’s also the beginning of the great adventure of the cooperative in Ecueil, created at the same time as the brand M.BRUGNON in1947: the vignerons have come together and will help each other. Together, we are stronger, longer, it’s Marc’s motto, and it will become the motto of his son, Alain. Marc will preside the Syndicat Général des Vignerons from 1978 to 1994, and will co-preside the inter professional committee of Champagne with one main goal: raise the Champagne region and the quality of its wine. He will go onto be vice President of INAO from 1980 to 1996 and will be instrumental in revising the criteria for the Appellation. Here are some important examples of the results obtained at that time : – the yield from pressing was lowered for better quality ( 160 Kg of grapes to be pressed instead of 150Kg to obtain 100L of juice) – bottling must be done after 1st January following the wine harvest, – minimum aging should go from 12 to 15 months. – Pressing centres need to undergo a certification.
A PASSIONATE AND GENEROUS WINE GROWER
Alain grew up with his three brothers and sisters in Ecueil in a brand-new house, built on the farm, and where we continue to live today with our own family. The daughters will leave the family for other horizons. The two brothers will go on to study the vine and wine, and Alain will be the one to settle on the family site in Ecueil, having satisfied his thirst for travel. In 1986, he will take over the reins of the business and will carry on the traditions of the vineyard, and winemaking, along with the philosophy of « building together for tomorrow”.Cooperation has remained the pinnacle of the BRUGNON philosophy handed down from father to son. The time for Alain to pass on these same reins is around the corner, having worked tirelessly towards this collective strength.
THE FUTURE IS GRADUALY TAKING SHAPE
Alain’s four children are each carving out their futures in their respective studies and life choices. Jules-Aubry, born in 1997, has contributed enormously to the business in recent years, and is contemplating taking over the reins from his father. This transmission is a gradual guided process, leaving a door open to a new vision, a solid bedrock based on strong traditions, yet paving the way for a new lease of life.