In its 175 years of history, Pol Roger has carved out one of the most flattering reputations in the select circle of the leading Champagne brands.
For six generations, the descendants have been equally demanding, remaining loyal to the strategy initiated from the very beginning by the firm's founder.
Pol Roger made his first sale of wine in January 1849. Family circumstances forced him to set up a business: his father, a notary, had contracted an incurable disease and could no longer carry on his practice. The customer was a merchant in Aÿ, the native village of Pol Roger. The firm developed rapidly. From Aÿ, it moved to Epernay in 1851.
As early as 1855, Pol began to favour the production of brut Champagne. He knew that this was the type of Champagne which the English preferred.
By 1899, when its founder died, the brand had acquired an enviable amount of recognition. It had only taken about thirty years...
On 23rd February 1900, a disaster occurred: part of the cellars and the buildings collapsed. Five hundred casks and one and a half million bottles were lost. By this time, Pol Roger's sons, Maurice and Georges, were in charge of the firm. A show of solidarity together with the brothers' determination enabled the firm to overcome this catastrophe.
Exports progressed and many crowned heads became customers of the brand. The top restaurants on the Champs-Elysées were serving Pol Roger, but the First World War was to bring this expansion to a halt.
Prohibition in the United States and the Russian Revolution made export openings more difficult. Yet Pol Roger Champagne was present in more and more countries, and the firm's expansion continued. The founding family's direct control over the firm helped it to maintain its identity as it grew.
Then came the Crisis of 1929 which rendered the economic situation difficult. When the Germans occupied France during the Second World War, the production and the buying of Champagne were controlled by the Wehrmacht.
The emblematic figure of Winston Churchill left his mark on the post-war period. This British statesman was an unwavering client of the firm: "the most drinkable address in the world", he declared.
It was in 1955 that a general improvement in sales could be felt. The range of wines was enlarged, and this gave an additional impetus to the development of Pol Roger's fame. In 1961, a vintage rosé was launched.
A few years later, a special vintage was born, the Cuvée Blanc de Blancs.
The celebrated Cuvée Winston Churchill was born in 1975 and launched at Blenheim Palace in magnums only.
At the same time, the firm developed and reached 210 acres in 1999. The previous year, the United States had become the biggest export market.
The company has adopted a more expansive sales strategy, with newly appointed importers representing Pol Roger in Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Australia.
2001 saw the launch of a new cuvee, "Rich", a demi-sec. In the same year the logo and bottle were redesigned in order to better reflect the elegance and distinction of the champagne.
In 2007 the house launched another cuvee, "Pure", an Extra Brut.
In addition to its own 92 hectare vineyard, the house has worked tirelessly to ensure sourcing of the best grapes from growers, in order to maintain its current level of excellence which is recognized worldwide.
From 2001 to 2011 the winery underwent a complete renovation; an undertaking which ensured that the cellar master, Dominique Petit, could vinify cuvees of irrefutable consistency and quality.
Between 2011 and 2013, refurbishment was carried out on the 19th century family home, located on rue Winston Churchill in Epernay.
In April 2018, Damien Cambres took over from Dominique Petit, who was the cellar master of the House for 19 years.
The Rogers lived in Aÿ, a village famous for its vineyards, lying at the foot of the Montagne de Reims. Pol Roger was only 18 when, on 2nd January 1849, he made his first sale of wine. Circumstances obliged him to take such an initiative: his father, a notary, contracted an incurable disease and had to give up his practice.
The family settled in Épernay in 1851, where the firm would be able to develop.
When Pol Roger died of pneumonia in 1899, his two sons were ready to take over from him.
Maurice and Georges Roger took over from their father, Pol. They had worked alongside him since the age of 18. The two brothers' determination enabled the firm to overcome a catastrophe, when in February 1900, the cellars collapsed.
In that same year, they obtained the right to change their family name to "Pol-Roger", as a tribute to their father. The "Pol-Rogers" were active participants in viti-vinicultural organisations and other professional associations.
In 1912, Maurice was elected Mayor of Épernay. He acted in an exemplary fashion during the German occupation of the town in 1914.
The pair of brothers, Maurice and Georges, proved very successful.
Maurice was the "voice" of the firm, taking care of its public relations, sales and marketing.
Georges was the "nose", sometimes described as the taster-in-chief, looking after the making of the champagne. The latter was also in charge of the financial management.
The year 1927, with the arrival of Jacques, Maurice's son, heralded the arrival of a third generation in the firm. In the 40s, Odette Pol-Roger, became friends with Winston Churchill.
Georges Pol-Roger passed away in 1950, Maurice in 1959. The third and fourth generations of the family began to run the company. Jacques and Jean were at the controls, assisted by Christian de Billy (Maurice Pol-Roger's grandson).
In 1963, Christian Pol-Roger arrived to strengthen this collegial management.
The first member of the fifth generation entered the business in 1988: Hubert de Billy, son of Christian, became Sales Manager for France. Patrice Noyelle, who is not a member of the founding family, joined the management team in 1997.
Patrice Noyelle, President of the Board of Directors, oversees the running of the company. He works side by side with Hubert de Billy, Export and Marketing Director, who is also a member of the Board of Directors.
In 2006, Christian Pol-Roger was appointed to the Supervisory Board and Laurent d'Harcourt took over the position of Export Manager. He was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2008.
The Supervisory Board is comprised of Christian de Billy, Christian Pol-Roger, Aymar le Roux, Veronique Collard de Billy and Evelyne de Billy.
In June 2013, Patrice Noyelle left his position as President of the Board of Directors of Pol Roger and Laurent d'Harcourt succeeded him. Patrice Noyelle was appointed to the Supervisory Board, joining Christian Pol-Roger, Aymar le Roux, Véronique Collard de Billy, Laurence de Billy and Evelyne de Billy, under Christian de Billy's presidency.
In June 2015, the Supervisory Board of Champagne POL ROGER appointed Isabelle Gautier, Financial Director, to the Board of Directors. She joined Laurent d'Harcourt, President of the Board of Directors and Hubert de Billy. The Board of Directors is also supported by the skills of Evelyne de Billy, Vineyard Manager, and Damien Cambres, Cellar Master since April 2018.
On January 1st 2019, Véronique Collard de Billy took over from her father, Christian de Billy, as President of the Supervisory Board of Pol Roger, and Christian de Billy became vice-president.
In November 2020, Bastien Collard de Billy, the first member of the sixth generation, joined the house as General Secretary.