Discover Your Own Joie de Vivre!January 4, 2022
This Entrepreneur’s Journey to France is an Invitation to Discover Your Own Joie de Vivre. Fueled by a passion and a belief, Tawnya Falkner gave up her real estate development and design career, took a leap and moved to France to create her French sparkling wine brand, Le Grand Courtâge and Provence style still wine, Très Chic Rosé.
Translated to mean “the Great Courtship”, Le Grand Courtâge signifies the courtship between French and American wine culture, grapes from different regions and the old and new world wine styles. For Tawnya, food & wine are the great common denominator of all cultures and the foundation for meaningful connection. The wines were created to embody the French spirit of ‘Joie de Vivre’ (“joy of life”) and remind people to elevate and celebrate the everyday and “Live Joyously”.
Today, Le Grand Courtâge is an award-winning national brand, but for Tawnya, success is much more than accolades and prestige. She is equally concerned with the brand’s purpose and social impact, and aims to spread positivity through her wines, through community, and through giving back.
This year they launched a new dedicated grant and mentorship program called ELEVATE, in collaboration with Ladies Who Launch, to bring the unique challenges facing women in business to the forefront, while helping to grow, mentor, and support women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.
By teaming up with like-minded partners and pooling financial resources, intellectual capital and networking communities, the aim is to provide meaningful immediate and long-term support. As an entrepreneur herself, Tawnya Falkner is career-driven, passionate, ambitious, and determined—and small businesses are often born from a small idea backed by someone with these traits.
For Tawnya, it was important to offer a platform to elevate and support female entrepreneurs, especially given the current state of work for women and the implications of this past year. Women receive less than 3% of Capital $ in the US despite owning 40% of businesses and controlling 85% of all consumer purchases. Furthermore, over 25% of female owned businesses have closed since March 2020 due to the fallout of COVID-19.
“Embrace Life. Dream Big. Accept all Invitations” is written on the back of each Le Grand Courtâge bottle and it embodies who they are at the core. Sometimes, destiny’s interventions take form in unexpected invitations. Such is the case for Tawnya, whose small leap of faith led her to discover something far greater. Le Grand Courtage is offering une invitation to discover your own joie de vivre.
We invited Tawnya to share the catalyst for her move to France, and what’s next for the brand. She also shared some sage advice for young entrepreneurs, who are looking to cultivate the confidence to go after their dreams. In the words of Tawnya herself, “Cheers to dreaming big and elevating the visionaries!”
What inspired you to leave your real estate development and design career, and move to France to start Le Grand Courtâge?
I grew up in a 3-street farming town across from the general store and some of my fondest memories are Sunday dinners and backyard barbecues. Those small town beginnings evoked a wanderlust and a passion for travel; and after seeing different parts of the world, and living in Asia and Europe, I realized that food & drink are the common thread that bring friends and family together.
Le Grand Courtâge was built on the premise of meaningful connection and reminding people to find the joy in life’s simple pleasures, like a meal shared or a relaxing bubble bath with a book.
I ultimately took the leap and moved to France to create wines which embody the French spirit of ‘Joie de Vivre’ after seeing a gap in the category on price, palate and packaging. As most French wine is traditionally branded, packaged and styled, I saw an opportunity to re-envision the category and offer something with a French cachet and elegance combined with an American appeal and price point. Since champagne is expensive, I wanted to create balanced, fruit forward wines that delight the palate and offer an affordable luxury to celebrate the every day.
What can you tell us about the history/origins of sparkling wines?
Champagne can only come from the region bearing its name about one hour northeast from Paris. All other bubbles produced anywhere else in the world (inc France) must be called “sparkling wine”.
Rumor has it that champagne was invented accidentally due to an error of excess pressure built up during fermentation causing bottles and corks to explode. Though Dom Perignon apparently said, “I’m seeing stars”, others called it the “the devil’s wine” (le vin du diable).
I love this story because it shows that a mistake led to a product that has captured the imagination around the world. It shows that sometimes mistakes or failures can be happy accidents. As a society we need to be a little more open to the fact that failings can create the path for the greatest growth or lead to fantastic outcomes.
Le Grand Courage was built on the premise that food & wine are the great common denominator of all cultures to foster meaningful connections. What are some of your favorite creative food pairings to enjoy different Le Grand Courtâge wines?
Fried Chicken and bubbles are my favorite! Also fun are spicy Asian, sushi, BBQ, popcorn, and potato chips. They call sparkling the ‘scrubbing bubbles’ for the palate as it truly cleanses the tongue between bites and the acidity in the wine is a great balance point for various cuisines and cocktails. As such, anything rich, salty, fried and spicy is an excellent pairing.