Champagne is a one hour drive due east from Paris. You will arrive in Epernay first then another 45 minutes to Reims to the north east. The region is divided into four departments. The first department is Montagne des Reims. Commencing in the city of Reims itself, it spreads towards Epernay to the south and also out to the east and west en route. This is where the great Pinot Noir villages exist and most villages are of Grand cru status. As one approaches Epernay the vineyards to the west are located in the Vallee de la Marne. Here we find the Pinot Meunier variety is dominant and villages are a mixture of Grand and premier cru level. As one travels to the south of Epernay the Cote des Blancs greets you with the full power of the noble Chardonnay grape stretching some 30 - 40 kilometres. Much further south, some one and a half hours drive lays the Aube department surrounding the city of Tours.
The champagne region is primarily owned by the enormous amount of family growers dotted throughout the major regions – Montagne de Reims, Vallee de La Marne, Cote de Blancs and the southern region of the Aube. The Grands Marques as they are called are the big houses such Moet et Chandon, Verve Cliquote and Roeder, to name a few. However the growers own approx. 70% of the vineyards throughout the region. Over the last decade they have expanded their marketing effort to promote and improve their own label with great success all over the world. Consequently they are selling little by little grapes to the Grands Marques preferring to produce far better quality themselves. This is becoming evident right throughout the world.