Harvesting the Vines: In Conversation with Julie Cavil, Krug’s First Female Cellar Master

The first female Cellar Master of champagne house Krug, Julie Cavil talks us through the legacy of her craft and shares her favourite spots to eat, sleep and savour a bottle of bubbly in Champagne.

In partnership withKrug Champagne

The job of dreams for any oenophile, leading the charge on all manner of things at Krug is Julie Cavil's role, from passing down the tricks of the trade to the house's next generation of winemakers, to upholding Krug's revered legacy, while maintaining a forward-facing, sustainable mindset. It's a lot to take on, yet Julie is undeterred - rather, she finds it a privilege to have been able to turn her passion into a profession.

In celebration of the humble grape and as part of our ongoing partnership with Krug, Julie here lets us in on the legacy of her craft, her favourite places to eat, sleep and drink in Champagne and what we should look for when selecting a champagne.

How did you make your way into the wine world?

I had a previous life working at an advertising agency in Paris, where I was an account director. It was there that I met my husband. Both of us are wine lovers and it became my dream to pursue a career in the field. Our passion drove us to Champagne in 2002, where I went back to school and studied oenology. I was an anomaly at the time - I wasn't from the region, I was older than the other students and I was already a mother. Despite all this, I graduated in 2006, and Krug opened its doors to me with characteristic generosity.

Talk us through the role of Cellar Master at Krug…

As Cellar Master, my role at Krug is threefold, incorporating the past, present and future. It begins with recreating a new edition of Krug Grande Cuvée each year, an act which comes with a responsibility to preserve our heritage, handed down to us by our predecessors. I also have a duty to protect the longevity of the house for the next generation and train the younger members of our team, which is why we tend our terroir sustainably and continue to value transmission.

You're the first female Cellar Master at Krug. What are you hoping to bring to the role?

There is no "before" or "after" with my role because the notion of generosity and transmission has been rooted in our craft for generations. My responsibility is thus one of continuity, in order to protect the fundamentals of the craft that have been passed on to me, but also one of adaptation to our changing environment. That's what being sustainable is all about. These changes will take place in two major areas for us. Firstly, through the new winery, Joseph 2.0, which will provide ideal conditions for the birth of our wines for future generations. Secondly, by maintaining our high standards of vineyards in the short, medium and long term as we continue to honour the Champagne region and the diversity of its terroirs.

Women remain disproportionately underrepresented in the wine world. What words of wisdom would you give to young women looking to forge a career in the industry?

First of all, I think it's important not to approach the subject by pitting women against men. I sincerely believe that everyone's background, education, life experience and intrinsic personality transcends gender. I'm certainly happy to see more female talent being recognised, but the important thing to remember is that they are, first and foremost, talented. I also believe in the power of diversity and inclusion. Our Krug Tasting Committee is a great example of how rich the results can be when we bring together a mix of generations, genders and professional backgrounds. Everyone in our committee brings their own unique perspective to our final blends. My biggest piece of advice would be not to hesitate in taking a roundabout path to your goal once you've clearly defined it for yourself. This is often where the best encounters and opportunities arise.

Are there any other trailblazing women in the wine world that we should know about?

Definitely our President and CEO Maggie Henriquez. Not only has she led the house through many exciting innovations, from Krug iD to Krug Music Pairings, but she has also always personally inspired and encouraged me. I live by words of wisdom that she once shared: "Nothing ever happens by chance." With this mindset, each challenge becomes a new opportunity.

Which three things should we look for when selecting a champagne?

It's a very personal thing. As the house's founder Joseph Krug once said, the true essence of champagne is pleasure itself, so the first thing I'd recommend asking yourself is what gives you pleasure. Then, with whom would you like to share it? Finally, what food or music would you enjoy drinking it with? Krug Grande Cuvée is the most generous expression of champagne and lends itself to a wealth of culinary combinations, while Krug Rosé is an unexpected rosé champagne for bold gastronomic experiences that can replace a good red wine at the table.

Which bottle of Krug has influenced you the most?

We often say that you never forget your first sip of Krug. Mine was quite memorable, as it marked my arrival at the house. It was Krug Grande Cuvée 154ème Édition, created around the harvest of 1998, and served to me by Rémi Krug, fifth generation of the Krug family, during my final interview before I joined the house a few weeks later.

When you're not sipping a glass of Krug, which other wines do you enjoy?

I've always been driven by curiosity. I am just as passionate about wines as I am about spirits. The possibilities are endless, and I never get set in my ways. Choosing a favourite would be to deprive myself of other opportunities, which is why I always stay open-minded and try to taste and discover new things.

Any under-the-radar wine regions we should know about?

Yes, Yunnan in China, the country's most southwestern province.

Which countries' wine scenes are you most excited about for 2021?

First of all, France, naturally! Our country continues to fascinate me, and I'll never finish exploring the diversity of winegrowers it has to offer. I'm also looking forward to Napa Valley's 2021 crop, as I hope they've had a better year after the dramatic fires of 2020, and I'm keen to try Argentina's Chandon Garden Spritz, which will probably brighten up some of my summer evenings this year.

A Pocket Guide to Champagne, France

Where should we stay?

The ultimate stay would be at Krug ambassador L'Assiette Champenoise, where you can experience the exquisite three-Michelin-starred cooking of chef Arnaud Lallement.

What about somewhere to eat?

I'd recommend brunch at Ruinart, lunch at Le Royal Champagne for its outstanding views over the hills of Épernay, followed by dinner at Café du Palais in Reims.

And to drink?

Definitely Le Wine Bar at Place du Forum in Reims. It's set in a beautiful location and has an outstanding champagne menu.

Which vineyards should we make tracks to?

Maison Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot are famous for their chalk cellars and are both worth a visit.

One thing we shouldn't miss while we're there?

There are several things you shouldn't miss. A glass of champagne under the trees at Perching Bar in Verzenay; the magnificent village of Les Riceys, which is only a two-hour drive from Reims; a stroll through the vineyards; and a visit to the historical cellars, where you can talk to passionate winemakers.

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