“Champagne is a lifestyle, a culture, a way of looking at life,” says Cecile Bonnefond, the CEO of luxe bubbly brands Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck. “It’s a way of enjoying food and wine, but it’s also a celebration.”
After spending nine years at the helm of Veuve Clicquot—not to mention her stints with major luxury food and wine heavyweights like the Danone Group, Kellogg’s, and Haagen-Dazs—the international businesswoman began leading 230-year-old Piper-Heidsieck and 164-year-old Charles Heidsieck back in 2011. “They bear the same name, but they are different champagnes with different DNAs,” she says of the two houses she oversees.
For Piper-Heidsieck, that DNA includes the American movie industry. A favorite of Hollywood’s finest (fun fact: Marilyn Monroe was said to have indulged in Piper-Heidsieck every morning), the sparkling wine made its debut at the Oscars back in the ‘90s. ComeSunday, it returns as the exclusive champagne of the Academy Awards, as guests will sip from over 1,500 bottles, including the Rare 2002. The Rare 1988, a blend no longer on the market, will also be served exclusively to winners in the engraving room at the Governor’s Ball after the ceremony.
Known for its signature red and gold colors (the label and the bubbly, respectively), Bonnefond compares Piper-Heidsieck to the red carpet and gold Oscar. “To make a great wine, you need to blend ingredients and know how the ingredients are going to interact with one another,” she says. “It’s the same thing when making a movie—the lighting, the sound, place, the choice of actors and interaction between actors.” This partnership means a lot for Piper-Heidsieck, one of France’s oldest champagne houses. “I’d like to go back to what the brand and name stands for and make it relevant for today,” says Bonnefond, who is one of the champagne industry’s few female CEOs.
On her recipe for success and advice to budding female businesswomen, Bonnefond says, “I worked and worked. It sounds basic, but it’s something you need to be prepared for and enjoy. Take risks. Choose a good boss. Pick someone who will want you to succeed. Be there at the right time. And be consistent with your choices.”