French vineyards appealing to Chinese buyers

An interesting article from the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST with quotes from Tim Swannie of Home Hunts:

French vineyard

Mainlanders get taste for French vineyards

Richard Warren -London 

Wealthy mainland investors, including state-owned enterprises, are queuing to buy vineyards in France. 

The latest mainland foray into French wine-growing properties included the sale to an undisclosed buyer of Chateau Lagarosse, a 40-hectare vineyard that produces a Premier Cote de Bordeaux, an entry-level wine. The price that was paid is not known.

The deal followed the purchase by Cofco, China’s largest national agricultural trading and processing company, of the 20-hectare Chateau de Viaud in Bordeaux’s Lalande-de- Pomerol district for an undisclosed sum. Both purchases were made in the first week of February. 

Joel Palous, managing director of AIM Vineyards, a company that advises clients on buying and managing vineyards, said he knew of seven other Chinese buyers, including companies, syndicates and wealthy individuals, looking for Bordeaux vineyards. Most had budgets ranging from €10 million (HK$105 million) to €50 million, and one buyer was prepared to pay €100 million for a trophy estate. 

 ”We also have a few Hong Kong-based investors who are looking for properties, though smaller than those wanted by the Chinese investors – more like a retreat home for their family and friends,” Palous said. 

Tim Swannie, director of French buyers’ agency Home Hunts, said his company was helping two buyers from China and Hong Kong find Bordeaux vineyards. “One of the clients is a company from mainland China looking for a trophy property with a large vineyard in Saint-Emilion or Medoc,” Swannie said. 

“The proposed buyer is a well-known wine company in China already and this property will serve as its European base. The client’s budget is up to about €25 million. The second client is from Hong Kong and is looking for a chateau or a manor house with a small vineyard to use as a holiday home. They would like to produce a small amount of wine for personal use and have a budget up to around €1.5 million.” 

Demand for Bordeaux vineyards is higher now than a year ago, partly because they are now more affordable, said Swannie, and overseas demand was particularly strong. 

 ”Prices have dropped a little over the past two to three years – perhaps by 10 to 15 per cent – which has helped,” Swannie said. “Plus, some people are looking for a change of direction following the recession. The thought of living in France and making a living from your land is quite inviting to many. Aside from that, French wine seems to have had a real revival in the past 18 to 24 months. It has become quite fashionable for the international jet set to have a vineyard in their portfolio as an investment or a status symbol”

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