Carving out her place in an industry still largely dominated by men was not easy for Venezuelan-born Margareth Henriquez. But this brilliant Harvard graduate who knows her vines had the passion, will and work ethic to land herself at the helm of Krug champagne, one of the world’s most famous luxury brands. President and CEO since 2009, she has remained loyal to the vision of the man who founded the company in 1843, and has successfully conquered new markets.
In the past, you have worked for companies focused more on mass market products. Do luxury products require a different approach? Yes. When you’re working in the mainstream, it’s easier. All you have to do is find a particular angle and offer something that others do not. That is classic marketing. But luxury is a different animal. I learned that at my own expense; I really had to forget everything I had learned and go back to basics to connect with the vision of the founder, Joseph Krug. We actually sat down with the historians and rewrote the history of Krug. We went back to the codes of the House in order to change the way we communicate, because communication is the essence of the luxury market.
What is luxury? Luxury is that which is not like everything else. Something that goes above and beyond. Luxury is beauty, excellence, and extraordinary, uncompromised quality. Luxury is that special light that shines for the rest of the industry—a light that is always there to show everyone else the path. That’s why luxury brands always bear the obligation to innovate, and lead the way.
How has Krug innovated since you took over? At Krug, innovation is not so much in the products, since that takes about 20 years to achieve. Krug champagne has certainly evolved over six generations, albeit naturally, and with respect for the company’s foundation. We focus more on experience and communication. We introduced the Krug ID, a six-digit number that tells the story of each bottle; we built the website, developed the Krug App, and entered the social media landscape. We are also pairing Krug with the music of renowned artists and performers to create unique “champagne and music” experiences for people.
On a more personal note, what is your favourite drink? For me, it’s champagne, hands down. Mostly because it doesn’t make me feel sleepy or heavy, like wine does, and it doesn’t have the intense impact of spirits. I can wake up the next morning as if I had been drinking water!
What is the best champagne you have had the good fortune to taste? The Krug Grande Cuvée, 1986. It was magical! We found only 14 bottles. There are just 10 of them left and they live in our cellars as part of the Krug heritage collection, so we can’t share them. More’s the pity …
Champagne is perfect any time, for any occasion, but in your opinion, what is the best food-champagne pairing? I adore truffles—black or white—with Krug Grande Cuvée.When you have the two together, it’s as though the flavours of both multiply and linger three or four times longer in your mouth. It’s simply wondrous—an opportunity to experience the perfect marriage of fine food and exceptional champagne. It literally transports you to another dimension!