How Donae Burston became Jay-Z’s Champagne man

Donae Burston. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.
Donae Burston. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Popping bottles with celebrities, socialites and royals is all part of a day’s work for Donae Burston. He travels the world as Champagne Armand de Brignac’s Sales and Marketing Director for the U.S. Southeast, Latin America and the Caribbean, hosting lavish parties and relishing in haute cuisine.

Not bad for a bookworm with degrees in mathematics and industrial engineering. Originally from Baltimore, Burston started his career as an IT consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. After the recession hit, he made his way to Miami and into the world of luxury beverages.

Burston, who was Moët Hennessy USA’s regional marketing director for Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon, said he liked what he saw in Armand de Brignac’s flourishing ultra-luxe team.

“We are the new kid on the block, and we love that,” he said.

Donae Burston. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Armand de Brignac is Old-World Wine for a New-World Audience

The Cattier Family had been producing wine for 200 years when it decided to fashion a new Champagne for the 21st century. The 2006 debut of Armand de Brignac was an innovative break in convention (hello, metalized bottles).

“We’re a small house, so we don’t have the production or financial pressures like others,” Burston said.

Plus, it probably doesn’t hurt that Shawn Carter — aka Jay-Z — bought the company in 2014.

‘We are the new kid on the block, and we love that.’

And now, as some of the world’s wealthiest art collectors and purveyors of fine things descend on Miami for Art Basel, Burston is ready to welcome them with a glass of very special bubbly. It’s probably safe to assume some bottles of Armand de Brignac were opened this summer when Burston and actress Felisha Terrell celebrated the birth of their son, Noah.

“Champagne is the true representation of a luxurious lifestyle,” he said. “It’s meant to be fun, celebrated and consumed.”

Donae Burston. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Donae Burston Goes on an International Champagne Tour

Last year was the first time Armand de Brignac was part of Art Basel, hosting an intimate dinner at Casa Tua, which was held right after Burston’s favorite Basel event: Vernissage. This year, the ne plus ultra of Champagnes is hosting several exclusive VIP receptions.

Looking to 2018, Burston will be stepping up the brand’s presence at major events — think Grammys, Oscars, Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival. He’s also opening new South American markets for Armand de Brignac, starting with Panama and Colombia.

“We are the new darling of the Champagne world, a brand that people really didn’t see coming,” he said. “It’s been amazing to be a part of it.”