The nobleman Joseph-Jacob-Placide Bollinger (1803-1884), who came from the Kingdom of Württemberg, joined the Müller-Ruinart company in 1822. Until 1829 he was extremely successful as a sales representative in Germany. In that year, he and two partners founded the famous champagne house in Aÿ near the city of Reims, which was then called Renaudin-Bollinger. The Count and Admiral Athanase-Louis-Emmanuel de Villermont (1763-1840) was active in the wine trade and brought in extensive vineyard holdings. The third was Paul Renaudin, who had also previously worked as a sales representative for Müller-Ruinart, but who left the young company shortly afterwards. Since the count did not want to be mentioned by name, the company was henceforth called Bollinger. He now called himself Jacques Bollinger and in 1837 he married Louise-Charlotte de Villermont, the Count's daughter. Champagne was exported to England as early as 1865 and from 1884 the house was the purveyor to Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and was awarded the "Royal Warrant".
After the death of the founder, the sons Joseph and Georges continued the business successfully and acquired additional vineyards around Bouzy, Louvois, Tauxieres and Verzenay. In 1918, a grandson of the founder with the same name Jacques Bollinger (1894-1941) took over the management of the company. After his early death, his widow Elisabeth "Lily" Bollinger (1899-1977) took over during the German occupation. The Wehrmacht confiscated not only the company's building, but also 178,000 bottles of the champagne in stock. However, despite the difficult circumstances, the champagne continued to be produced. The legendary Madame then managed the company's fortunes for four decades. Under her leadership, production was doubled. She travelled through her vineyards by bicycle until old age.
In 1971 Madame Bollinger transferred the management of the company to her nephew Claude d'Hautefeuille (1913-2000). One year before her death she was awarded the "Ordre National du Merit" by the French state. Already legendary and often told is her witty answer to a reporter's question about the occasions on which she drinks champagne: I drink it when I'm happy and I drink it when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone; I drink it in company anyway. Even when I have no appetite, I like to have a glass. And if I have an appetite, of course I take it. But otherwise I don't touch it, except when I'm thirsty. (see many other sayings of well-known personalities about wine under quotations). From 1978 to 1994, Christian Bizot (1928-2002), son of Lily Bollinger's younger sister, was the sixth president of the company. He introduced the use of a label with valid information on all Bollinger champagnes without vintage. This created absolute transparency, as it was now possible to see which grape varieties were used and how long the wines had been stored. This information is kept top secret in many other houses.
In 1985, Bollinger acquired 40% of the Australian company Petaluma and was instrumental in the development of a sparkling wine cellar in Adelaide. Since 1994, Ghislain de Montgolfier (also a nephew of Lily Bollinger) has been responsible as seventh president. Unlike many others, the company is still family owned. Its own vineyards now cover 152 hectares of vines in the best crus, including those in the communes of Aÿ, Bouzy and Verzenay. Around 60% are considered Grand Cru and another 30% Premier Cru. The products of the house are produced under the strictest quality controls, based mainly on Pinot Noir grapes, partly with barrel fermentation (which is otherwise not common in champagne) and very long yeast aging. The reserve wines are not stored in large barrels but, sorted by cru and vintage, corked in individual magnum bottles under slight pressure. Only the must of the first pressing (cuvée) is used. The must of the second pressing (waist) is sold to other winemakers. Only for Chardonnay is waist sometimes used for the best vintages. The first fermentation of the wines, sorted by cru, takes place in (naturally French) barriques and stainless steel tanks. Champagne without vintage is stored on the yeast for at least three years, vintage champagne at least five to eight years.
For particularly good vintages, a vintage champagne called "Grande Année" is produced, which is stored on the yeast for at least five years after the second fermentation in the bottle. A little still red wine from vineyards around Aÿ is added to "Grande Année Rosé". The mono-cuvée "Vieilles Vignes Françaises" is considered the rarest champagne. It is produced in small quantities (max. 2,000 bottles per year) from old, ungrafted Pinot Noir vines from a vineyard spared from phylloxera. After the dégorgement, all champagnes have to rest for at least three months before they are delivered. The designation Récemment dégorgé (RD), which appears on the label of special champagnes and is reserved for Bollinger, is protected by law. Around 1.5 million bottles are produced annually. The products are exported to a total of 80 countries worldwide. James Bond 007 also loves champagne from Bollinger.