In 1871 Eugène Mercier began the construction of his cellars in Epernay. It took six years to build the 18 kilometers of impressive underground tunnels that are home to the Mercier heritage. Once the immense cellars were open, Eugène Mercier, who always had an eye for creating significant events, had visitors tour the tunnels in carriages pulled by four horses. The tour was even taken by the President of France, Sadi Carnot, when he called at Mercier in 1891.
Designed and decorated to impress, to this day the Mercier cellars are among the most often toured cellars in Champagne and receive over 100,000 visitors every year. One of the most remarkable objects to be seen on the Mercier tour is the “giant wine cask,” which bears witness to another of the founder’s flashes of genius. Eugène Mercier arranged the building of the world’s biggest wine barrel, which was designed for assemblage. His genius for communications inspired him to surmount every obstacle to have his exceptional cask displayed at the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. The Mercier cask even won second prize at the Exposition—first prize went to the Eiffel Tower!