Chinese millionaires terrify French winemakers

Chinese millionaires are assuming control over French vineyards, terrifying the winemakers of France who grieve over the national treasure slipping through their fingers. Only in Burgundy, Chinese millionaires have bought about twenty vineyards and are not going to stop there. Now, Chinese businessmen turned their eyes to the Bordeaux region.

The craze of the Chinese entrepreneurs over the French wines is beyond the consumer threshold. Millionaires from China are purchasing fertile lands of France, where the best grapes grow. While the representatives of the Union of Winemakers are sounding the alarm, the authorities under the supervision of François Hollande are shrugging their shoulders, insisting that the purchase of vineyards is legal.

Chinese entrepreneurs have been expressing interest in the French national heritage, as the locals call the vineyards, for years. In the last 10-15 years, the Chinese have been watching the French property market and purchasing fruitful vine plantations, often adjacent to old castles. In August of this year, another scandal broke in France involving the purchase of a castle and vineyard Gevrey-Chambertin in the department of Côte d'Or in Burgundy by a millionaire from China.

The castle that became the property of the owner of 17 casinos in Macau, is a former 11th century abbey. This is a monument to the history of France included in the list of protected buildings. The site adjacent to the old castles features vineyards. When the former owners of the land, seven descendants of the Mitterrand family, announced their decision to sell Gevrey-Chambertin, local vintners association commenced a fight for the property. The French winemakers managed to collect five million euros for the purchase of the old vineyard, but a native of China offered more. Gevrey-Chambertin was sold for eight million to a Chinese who became the full owner of two hectares of the 15 bearing the name of the famous vineyard.

From the moment of the transaction the relationship between the residents of Côte d'Or and the French authorities went south. According to the head of the union of French winemakers Jean-Michel Guillon, the amount offered by the Chinese businessman was too large, even considering all the splendor of the vineyard Gevrey-Chambertin. According to the industry activists, if the land is sold to any business bigwig, ready to easily part with millions of euros, the national treasure of France will be sold out in the near future.

The French position can be explained not only by their fear of the "occupation" of the French production, but also a forecasted deterioration of the produce produced by the famous vineyards. After all, the quality of wine depends not on the fertile soil alone, but following the production process and monitoring the quality of the product. Who can guarantee that the participation of the Chinese, notorious for producing low-quality consumer goods, will not affect the quality of the famous French wines?

There is risk here, because the purchase of the French vineyards by the Chinese businessmen is prompted by high demand for this product in the Chinese market. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs tend to focus on profitable customers with average incomes who can drink wine of medium quality as long as it has a famous name. 

The government believes that the Chinese investment is made legally, which means that government intervention is not required. As noted by the municipality of Côte d'Or, local winemakers are only capable of screaming about historical heritage, but at the same time do not provide financial assistance in the preservation of architectural treasures.

However, in addition to Chinese businessmen, representatives from other countries, including affluent Russians who own vineyard Prieure Saint-Jean-de-Bebian, are interested in French lands. In Burgundy, vineyards are owned by entrepreneurs from the U.S. and Ireland, while the Japanese own Chateau Lagrange in Bordeaux. The Chinese are actively buying up plantations of grapes in the latter region. From this we can conclude that the concerns of the local residents have to do with something else rather than the emergence of the Chinese businessmen.

The root of the problem is much deeper. The French see how over time the country has been losing its industrial strength, becoming the center of tourism, attractive for its history and architecture. Even the French vineyards - community pride and one of the main industry areas - threaten to become the subject of "must have" for wealthy people from around the world

Maria Snytkova


Read the original in Russian


Subscribe to Pravda.Ru Telegram channel, Facebook, RSS!

Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov