After spending countless days selling newspapers and beer in Calderdale the Johal family have moved up in the world . . . and now sell champagne in California!

Ravinder Johal at the Siddal shop
Ravinder Johal at the Siddal shop
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The Land of Opportunity is shining brightly for the Johal family who have left dismal grey days in Calderdale behind them.

Amrik and Sapinder emigrated last July after living in Halifax for 31 years.

Ravinder, Amrik and Sapinder Johal in San Francisco, California

Ravinder, Amrik and Sapinder Johal in San Francisco, California

From 1981 to 1986 they lived over their shop at Albert Road, Sowerby Bridge.

They also ran a newsagents at Whitegate Road, Siddal, for nine years (that business is still run by family members), and moved to Queensbury in 1998 until emigrating.

Their son Ravinder also emigrated while daughter Kirandeep lives in Scotland.

Amrik’s business acumen and Ravinder’s internet background has now been combined to form a new online business called Premier Champagne based at Haywood, near San Francisco.

The beautiful beaches of California

The beautiful beaches of California

Ravinder, on a two-week break in Calderdale, told the Courier of their exciting plans for the future.

He said his father already had business interests with a relative in the States and had a share in two petrol stations.

Ravinder knew of a business in the UK selling champagne successfully and when he decided he wanted to live in California and start a similar business there his parents joined him on his dream.

“England is the biggest consumer of champagne after France and there is more competition here,” said Ravinder.

“We thought the business would work well over there in a niche market.”

The business sells high-quality champagnes, all from northern France, and it has recently introduced sparkling Californian wines which are hugely popular over there.

“We think as a specialist we can be the `go-to` place and the business is going well and has the potential to be huge,” said Ravinder.

“It’s a bit of a change from selling beer and vodka to selling champagne but the principles are the same.”

The business concentrates on quality champagnes which give the best margins and reduce time spent on packing and administration.

It is based close to the high-wealth areas of the Silicon Valley and San Francisco which is the financial centre on the west coast.

But, online orders are also being distributed across America where there is no nationwide specialist giving the business an edge in providing customers with more knowledgeable advice and a more comprehensive range of champagnes.

Ravinder says his sister may yet join the family in the States as she is a software developer and there are plenty of opportunities for her in Silicon Valley.

The business was finally up and running in January after all the paperwork was completed and the family are still getting used to life in the States.

A Yorkshire accent can cause communication difficulties but the Americans love it, according to Ravinder.

“And, we didn’t see any snow this winter,” he said.

“Our day-to-day lives are not too much different but there are a lot more outdoor activities.”

His parents are due to visit Calderdale in late summer.

More information is available at www.premierchampagne.com

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Ravinder shared his favourite champagne quotes with the Courier:


“Come quickly, I’m tasting the stars!”
Dom Perignon - pioneer of early champagne production


“My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink more champagne”
John Maynard Keynes - visionary economist, on his deathbed


“In victory, you deserve champagne, in defeat, you need it.”
Napoleon Bonaparte - French military genius


“I only drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I’m thirsty.”
Lily Bollinger - of Bollinger


“Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right.”
Mark Twain - Great American author


“I’m only a beer teetotaler, not a champagne teetotaler”
George Bernard Shaw - Irish playwright


“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we’re fighting for, it’s champagne!”
Winston Churchill - British PM during World War II