Birthplace of Champagne Fresne Ducret, Ville-Dommange has witnessed the journey undertaken many years ago by the first voyagers of the family. For more than a century, successive generations ventured beyond the borders of their forefathers, discovering new frontiers and weaving together what they learned from their explorations with the traditions of their heritage. At the head of the family business since 2007, Pierre Fresne has devoted himself to continuing this family tradition.


The Fresne family can be traced back many generations in the village of Marfaux on the left bank of the Vesle River, and their life’s work was tending grapevines. Adolphe Fresne, born in 1834, was the first in his family to set off on his own. At the age of 16, he decided to leave his parents’ home and seek employment as a vineyard worker in Ville-Dommange. This move became permanent when he married Olive Nachuret, a local girl from a long line of vigerons, and together they started a family. They had four children: Marie-Joseph, Marie-Lucie, Lié-Lucien, and the youngest, Pierre-François, who was affectionately called Onésime.
Onésime, in turn, met and married Marie-Rose Laherte (called Émérentine), whose family had also long been established as winegrowers in Ville-Dommange. They raised three children, Gabrielle, Pierre and Prosper, and the family made its living with their vineyards, selling all of their grapes to the big champagne houses.


In 1910, Prosper met Marthe Ducret, a young woman of 17 who hailed from Haute-Savoie. This encounter was the end result of a long journey through France for Marthe, who worked as a cook for heirs of Prince Napoléon III in Pontault-Combault. She came to Ville-Dommange to serve Charles Arnould, the illustrious anticlerical mayor of Reims who kept a residence in the village. She became a treasured member of their household, travelling between the Arnould residences in France and in North Africa with her employer.
But the onset of the Great War turned their world upside down. Caught up in the patriotic furor, Prosper and his brother Pierre enlisted at the beginning of the war, and took part in most of the major battles. Unfortunately, Pierre died in Serbia a few days before the armistice. Meanwhile, women and children were evacuated from Villedommange, and Marthe was no exception. She was taken in by her uncle, Félix Ducret, in Paris. When Prosper was demobilized, he joined Marthe in Paris, where they were married. Onésime and Emerentine found themselves alone in Villedommange, having lost a son and with their vineyards destroyed, so he newlyweds returned to Villedommange to help them rebuild the family’s holdings.


After the Great War, winegrowers in Champagne pulled together to bring the region back to its former glory. In only a few years a large part of the vineyards were restored, and over the next two decades Prosper and Marthe tended to their four hectares of vineyards and raised their five children: Pierrette, Jean, André, Marcelle and Joseph. The 1930s were difficult years in Champagne, but Prosper and Marthe began selling bottled wine and established a loyal clientele. Prosper dreamed of making champagne as well, but he lacked the necessary equipment. He banded together with several other winemakers in the village, and the group was able to buy a disgorging line together just before the World War II began. Unfortunately, he was taken by a sudden and violent case of meningitis in 1943, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves.


At the end of World War II, Prosper’s three sons—Jean, André and Joseph—picked up where their father had left off. The brothers decided to found Champagne Fresne Ducret together. The following years saw the development of the brand, with production increasing from 2000 bottles in 1946 to nearly 20,000 by the end of the 1960s. Most of their champagne was sold in what would become traditional markets for the brand: Reims, Paris, and of course, their mother’s native Savoie.
It was then up to Michel and Laurent—sons of Jean and André, respectively—to carry the torch. During their tenure, they sought to grow the domain, acquiring both vineyards and cellars. The two cousins also modernised the business, replanting vines and creating new cuvees. They developed sales all over France and began to export their champagne to Germany.


Today, it is Michel’s son, Pierre Fresne, who is at the helm of the family domain. Initially, he hadn’t planned to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers; his parents didn’t want him to feel obliged and thus never pushed him in that direction. Instead, he did a bachelor’s degree in English, then moved to England to pursue a career as a language teacher, including a year spent earning a teaching degree at Cambridge University. After three years abroad, though, he missed Champagne and decided to return home. He carried out further training as a winemaker in Avize, then took internships at wineries in Burgundy and New Zealand. It was during the internship in Burgundy that he met his Canadian wife, Daniella, who agreed to make a life with him in Villedommange.
Together, Pierre and Daniella are the embodiment of Champagne Fresne Ducret’s story: at the crossroads of cultures and history. They represent a new generation of winemakers devoted to the future of champagne.


10 Rue Saint-Vincent 51390 Ville-Dommange
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