The story begins in 1990 when three friends: Rik Schreurs, Theo Pasque and Guido Geunis decide to give shape to their passion for wine making. They start by planting some vines in their backyards. Guido Geunis, one of the founding friends, played an important role in the direction of their passion. With roots in the Champagne region, Guido spent a considerable amount of time as a child, with friends and family, in France. Every year he returned and met a number of Champagne farmers such as Petit Pol and Alain Guillame. The microbe of the sparkling wine germinates in this phase. When asked if he could get a number of vines with him to Belgium, he got the answer: "You can try, but you will never succeed ..." After several years of experimenting, the possibility arose to Hoogveld in Jesseren. The three friends did not hesitate for a moment and realized their first joint vineyard of about half a hectare.
Passion for the product
The wines and sparkling wines that were made in the early years were mainly drunk themselves, and were found to be very good. On weekends, the production was made in the three friends' domestic cellars, the men being passionate about their hobby. Because the wines were mainly for personal use, it was decided early on not to add additives (especially chemicals) to their wines, nor to spray insecticides or herbicides in the vineyard, because after all, they drank the wine themselves. It can be said that they were already doing 'organic viticulture' at that time, without realizing it themselves or using it as a commercial asset.
Every year the quality of their products improved and that did not go unnoticed. Several sommeliers were asked to sell a number of bottles. So the ball started rolling and soon the bottles were on the wine list in a number of top restaurants in Belgium under the name Champinnot , including; Hof van Cleve, de Karmeliet and Jardin Tropical.
The demand for and passion in making their wines kept growing. Because of this, the three friends decided to expand their vineyard. In 2009 they decide to set up a bvba. Since the domestic cellars became too small to manufacture their products, they decided to move their production to a farm in Jesseren.
In the summer of 2008, a heavy hailstorm damaged most of the vineyard. The harvests of 2008 and 2009 amounted to less than 1/3 of the normal yield.
In order not to sit still, they started again with the vinification of standard apples, a forgotten regional product. Dozens of different 'forgotten' apple varieties were supplied by Natuurpunt vzw, which manages the standard tree orchards. Fermenting the apple wine in the same way as sparkling wine produces a very fresh sparkling aperitif. Better known today as 'Apples and Pearls'.
In the following years the vineyard expanded little by little and the name changed under pressure from the CIVC from Champinnot to Optimbulles. In 2011 an investment was made to have the entire production process in our own hands.
Since 2010 I, Maxim son of Guido Geunis, have also been involved in the story. From birth I was immersed in the wine world and my passion for wine making has started flaring up since I was 15 years old. In the meantime, I am very intensively involved in the story and I was recently appointed as co-manager.