Close Menu

Celebrity wine boom in Provence leads to fears over future of family-owned vineyards

Though the surge in interest in Provence vineyards has undoubtedly driven up the value of Provençal vines, celebrity buyers and billionaire investors in the wine region are leading to fears for the future of family-owned vineyards.

George Clooney: celebrity wine Provence
Credit: Nicolas Genin

Despite traditionally not enjoying the prestige and cache associated with regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy, a celebrity-driven boom in vineyard purchasing in Provence has lead to hitherto unseen demand for Provençal wines, in particular rosé.

However, this notoriety does not come without its pitfalls for local winemakers. A report in The Times notes that the price of land in the region has surged so much that locals can ill afford to buy new vines or even pass on their own land to their children, due to skyrocketing inheritance tax tariffs.

“It’s becoming very complicated for young winemakers,” Sylvain Audemard, of the Chamber of Agriculture in the Var, told The Times.

The “traditional model” of family-owned vineyards surrounding local villages, Audemard said, was now under threat from luxury investment groups who followed celebrities into the region – hoping to cash in on Provence’s new-found cache.

“These groups and investors frighten us,” he told the publication. “We are afraid they will crush everything in their path.”

There has been a steady influx of high profile purchasers into the Provence region for some time now. Names including David and Victoria Beckham,  Sir James and Lady Dyson, and most recently George and Amal Clooney have bought vineyards in the area.

Though Audemard says he has nothing against these celebrity buyers themselves, he told The Times that his concern lies in other investors entering the marketplace.

“[The] trend is evolving and what we are now seeing is the arrival of groups in the luxury sector who are investing millions of euros in the Var.” He said.

Indeed, LVMH has purchased two Provençal vineyards to add to its portfolio in Champagne and Bordeaux.

These investors are helping to improve the quality of the region’s wines, Audemard says, while also increasing its cache.

“When you get old vineyards that have been in the family for seven or more generations and that are suddenly worth €2 million or more, it’s sometimes impossible [to refuse an offer].” He said.

The June issue of the drinks business will feature an in-depth look at the latest developments in the rosé category.

Read More: George Clooney faces a legal battle over wine estate in Provence.

H/T: The Times

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No