Billionaires Row Black-Owned Miami-Based French Champagne and Cognac | Miami New Times

You Don't Have to Be a Billionaire to Drink Billionaires Row Champagne and Cognac

South Florida-born and made in France, Billionaires Row is one of the world's only black-owned Champagne brands.
Billionaires Row cofounders and Miamians William Benson (left) and Patrick Ductant.
Billionaires Row cofounders and Miamians William Benson (left) and Patrick Ductant. Photo courtesy of Billionaires Row
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Miami residents can now feel like "billionaires" when they celebrate with this new Miami-based Champagne and Cognac brand.

Billionaires Row, created by Miami residents Patrick Ductant and William Benson, stands as one of the few black-owned Champagne brands on the market. Rapper Jay-Z famously owned Ace of Spades, which he sold earlier this year.

But Billionaires Row isn't only about the bubbles. It's also a Miami business success story.

Starting his own Champagne line was a longtime goal for Benson, who first envisioned the company in 2012. At the time, he worked for a Wall Street hedge fund by day, networking toward his goal by night, visiting upscale restaurants and nightclubs known for attracting a wealthy audience.

His "light bulb" went off when he realized the lack of diversity in the high-end spirits industry.

"I had people tell me, 'You’re Black, you can’t own a Champagne company,’” Benson tells New Times. "But in our culture, we consume alcohol and we indulge in luxury, just like anybody else. I decided we need a voice in this business."
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Billionaires Row's brut rosé Champagne
Photo courtesy of Billionaires Row
After an impromptu trip to France, a meeting with the owners of Champagne Duménil, and an initial investment,  Benson owned the rights to Billionaires Row brut rosé Champagne. It would take a partnership to turn that dream into reality, though.

Benson met Patrick Ductant, CEO of Miramar-based Venturion Marketing Group, at a Miami event in 2012. The men found common ground in the fact that they were college dropouts with entrepreneurship in their blood. Both had worked their way up by sheer hard work, and the two became fast friends.

The way Ductant tells it, he knew immediately that they'd become business partners. It took six years, though, for them to join forces to revamp and relaunch Benson's Billionaires Row Global in 2018.

Billionaires Row brut rosé is made at  Duménil, an independent house that produces wines on its land situated in Reims. The two men describe the Champagne — made from a blend of pinot noir,  chardonnay, and pinot meunier — as a subtle harmony of fruitiness and elegance, with light floral notes and hints of melon, lemon peel, and berries.
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The Cuvee XO cognac from Billionaires Row.
Photo courtesy of Billionaires Row
In 2017, Le Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) accepted the brand, recognized by the French government as a "Champagne proper" — a designation offered exclusively to sparkling wines made from grapes in the Champagne region of France.

"CIVC doesn’t really allow Americans to own Champagne brands, so this is an honor,” Ductant says. "Owning a brand of this caliber is truly groundbreaking."

Today, Billionaires Row brut rosé ($110) and Cuvée XO Cognac ($65) are available for sale online at ReserveBar. The brand can also be purchased locally at Tootsie's Cabaret, Nobu Miami, Mondrian Hotel Miami Beach, and LIV, as well as off the shelf at Total Wine & More and Sunset Corners Wines & Liquors.

Moving forward, the pair aims to encourage people of color into entrepreneurship. For Ductant and Benson, that means embodying a "billionaire" mindset — and not in monetary terms. Instead, it’s about spreading a positive message that anything is possible.

"And not just to become part of the beverage industry, but any industry lacking significant Black representation," Benson emphasizes.
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