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The return of Champagne Jayne

Champagne Jayne is back. The wine educator has emerged strengthened from her three-year legal ordeal with the CIVC, the Champagne wine board, with a renewed sparkle as she embarks on a new venture.

Champagne Jayne on the set of This Morning
Champagne Jayne on the set of This Morning

In the first official interview since winning her case and the right to keep her brand, Champagne Jayne appears true to her name – full of vitality and depth – her account of her Kafka-esque experience is interwoven with fascinating tales of Champagne and its history.

“I am just as excited as I have ever been about Champagne – I still love it, but I can’t understand why the CIVC pursued me for years and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs, after I had spent decades promoting their product,” she says. “I really believed in their product but they did not believe in me.”

Talkative Champagne Jayne, aka Rachel Jayne Powell, is at the London Wine Fair, on a visit from Australia.

“I am no longer depressed, but I am bitterly disappointed – although I won the case brought against me, I was unable to get my legal costs covered or to receive damages from the loss of business. This seemed terribly unfair to me given the relative size of the parties, ” she says.

Champagne Jayne now wants an apology from the CIVC, but there is no sign of one.

“I refused to give in to the CIVC; I have a strong sense of fairness: I would not succumb to such outrageous behaviour,” she said.

Her book Great, Grand and Famous Champagnes: Behind the Bubbles, won a Gourmand book award in 2011. In 2012 Jayne won international Champagne Educator of the Year and she was made a Dame Chevalier de L’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.

“Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger thanked me personally for my efforts as an international journalist in democratizing Champagne,” she says, “but then the CIVC ruined my dream.”

But now Champagne Jayne, a former TV entertainer, educator, speaker and journalist, is poised to re-launch her speaking services.

She still has good relations with Champagne producers; she says many told her they disagreed with the CIVC’s legal action against her but they could not publicly speak out or were too scared to go against it because CIVC promotes and protects their product globally.

“From now on Champagne education and entertainment will be the icing on the cake, but not the main event. What I really want to talk about is key issues for small business, entrepreneurship and my lessons from the road, lessons from this four year experience,” she says.

She will speak about resilience and how to grow and protect brands online. She will operate internationally both in the UK and in Australia, where she is mainly based.

Jayne’s business rocketed high in Australia in 2011, only to plummet once the CIVC launched a legal challenge against her in Melbourne: it was -without prior notification, she says, or any communication from CIVC to discuss matters which could have been resolved without going through the lengthy legal battle that also involved several failed mediations.

“I worked hard and became famous in the international drinks world and then lost almost everything; I was able to do the occasional masterclass during my legal ordeal, but many players in the industry ignored me and I received much less work,” she says.

“I did not have the money to defend myself against the CIVC so I had to borrow money from family and friends to cover my legal costs of more than AUS $75,000. I was up against a big legal team that included barristers and even a QC. Its a real David V Goliath story where thankfully the little guy prevailed” she says.

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