Former two-time NBA Champion, Isiah Thomas, began building a business empire just a few years after his debut for the Detroit Pistons in 1981. Because of this, Thomas was able to expand into other areas—such as being the exclusive importer and owner of Cheurlin Champagne. This distinction makes him one one of a very few Black business owners to own the label, the vineyard, the winery, and import champagne.
Cheurlin’s Roots and Isiah Thomas’ Involvement
The name “Cheurlin” is one that has been in champagne making circles for decades. A Catholic priest who went by the name of Cheurlin began making champagne in 1788. The family has been involved in producing champagne for nine generations now with the current generation really wanting to break Cheurlin in the U.S.
It’s amazing that Cheurlin Champagne hadn’t been available in the U.S. before. Thomas Cheurlin had a ton of faith in his family’s grapes—which are called “grower grapes”—and their champagne. Because the way, the grapes are grown, this allowed for a healthier champagne. One with significantly less sugar and didn’t give people hangovers.
That’s where Isiah Thomas comes in. He arrived in France to learn more about the vineyards and wineries in the country. He was looking to create champagne that had premium taste without the sugar. Thomas and the Cheurlin were on a collision course already.
One side had been doing this for years but was basically unknown outside of France while the other was seeking what the other side produces. Once a deal was struck up, ISIAH Imports began bringing Cheurlin into the U.S in 2016. Almost from the start of this working relationship, Cheurlin began racking up awards such as 2017 and 2018 Champagne Producer of Year from the New York International Wine Competition.
Right now, Cheurlin is available online and can be ordered in a couple of states and a few countries. That means expansion is a big focus for ISIAH Imports to really get the name out there.
Recently, Cheurlin released the Cheurlin Thomas line which includes Celebrite comprised of Pinot Blanc and mostly of Chardonnay and Le Champion which is 100-percent Chardonnay. Both are aged over two year and have no sugar added.
The main line has the Brut Speciale which is comprised mostly of Pinot Noir with 30-percent Chardonnay and aged between two-to-three years. Cheurlin’s Rose de Saignee is all Pinot Noir and aged a year and a half.