You’ve probably heard it before. “How do you make a small fortune in wine? You start with a big fortune.” Looking at the list of France’s riches people, this seems to be only partially true. Many of France’s wealthiest persons or families own vineyards. However, there are only a few who have become wealthy thanks to their winemaking. In this article we look at who on France’s Rich List also own vineyards.
Many of France’s wealthiest people own vineyards. Some have made their fortune in wine, but this is unusual. Some have had inherited vineyards as a part of the family fortune. Others have invested in it as one of many businesses they are involved with, and yet others have what you could call “trophy vineyards” (like the ugly expression “trophy wife” – some have both). Why not, if you can afford it, one might ask. One reason to invest in a vineyard can, of course, also be to benefit from some of the tax advantages it offers.
This is a longer version of an article published on Forbes.com.
It almost seems to be a hobby of the rich to collect famous wine estates. It even seems to be a bit of a competition between them. Several of the richest names own top chateau in Bordeaux that are almost neighbours. In Burgundy one after the other of the biggest fortunes have invested in vineyards. Here is also where one the allegedly most expensive vineyard land transactions have taken place, when a few hectares were bought for a reported 34 million euro per hectare.
It is not always easy to know if the rich do own vineyards. Sometimes, it is declared in annual statements; sometimes, it is well-known, but in many cases, those with a fortune don’t necessarily disclose details of what they own. So the listings below are partially hard facts, partially estimates.
Let us divide it into two categories: Trophy vineyards and wine fortunes.
Trophy vineyards is when the wine activity is not core to the business of the fortune or only represents a small portion of the fortune.
Wine fortunes is first of all when wine is the core of the fortune. This is a bit tricky though since some fortunes are today focused on wine but the origin of the fortune was something else, for example spirits or beer or real estate.
Top trophy vineyard fortunes
- Bernard Arnault, LVMH – it is likely that Arnault’s wine business is bigger than anyone else’s since, for example, it includes around a third of all champagne (!). But it is still a very small part of his business, some 10%
- Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, Chanel
- François Pinault – although his wine empire, Artemis, is impressive, it is most likely a small part of the fortune.
- Francois Perrodo, Perenco
- Hennessy, Moët and Chandon families – today shareholder of LVMH. Perhaps the origin was wine but today it is other luxury products.
- Alexandre Ricard – could perhaps be argued that it should be in the wine category but the company is much more focused on spirits
- Robert Peugeot
- Ariane de Rothschild – again, one could argue, but I am guessing that the finance business I more important than wine
- Ginette Moulin
Top wine fortunes – The Wine Rich List
Of the biggest French family fortunes, only one is dominated by its wine activity, number five on the Rich List. This single (debatable) exception is Pierre Castel who thus tops the Wine Rich List.
- Pierre Castel – one could question this since a big part of the fortune is not wine (e.g. beer in Africa). Would require more investigation.
- Bernard Magrez – also a debatable case, the origin of the fortune is to a large extent in spirits. But today very focussed on wine.
- Frédéric Rouzaud – champagne and other wine
- Corinne Mentzelopoulos – today, a Bordeaux wine business but the origin of the fortune was grocery stores and real-estate
- Jean-François and Jean Moueix – Bordeaux
- François Faiveley – Burgundy
- Jean-Jacques Frey – a question-mark, to what extent is this still a real-estate fortune? Today a fairly divers vineyard holding but most importantly Bordeaux
- Alexandra and Stéphanie de Nonancourt – Champagne
- Gérard Perse – today wine focussed, Bordeaux, but the origin was supermarkets
- Bertrand de Villaine – Burgundy
- Bollinger – Champagne
- Carol Duval-Leroy – Champagne
- Jean-Hubert Delon and Geneviève d’Alton – Bordeaux
- Jean-Michel Cazes heirs – Bordeaux
- Denis Merlaut and the Villars family – Bordeaux
- Christian and Edouard Moueix – Bordeaux
- Bruno and Marie Borie – Bordeaux
- de Boüard de Laforest – Bordeaux
- Lalou Bize-Leroy and Perrine Fénal – Burgundy
- Paul-François Vranken – Champagne
- Philippe Castéja – Bordeaux
- Marcel Guigal – Rhône
- Gilles de Larouzière and the Henriot family – perhaps, but are they now Pinault shareholders?
- Alain Thiénot – Champagne
- Manoncourt – Bordeaux
- Alfred Tesseron – Bordeaux
- Philippe Cuvelier – an office supplies fortune, sold off and invested in wine in Bordeaux
- Pol-Roger and de Billy family – Champagne
- Jean-Charles and Nathalie Boisset – Burgundy
- Joseph Helfrich and Gunther Bimmerle – a recent wine fortune mainly focussed on mid-market and budget wines from many origins
- Isabelle Roch and the heirs of Charles Roch and Henry-Frédéric Roch – Burgundy
This is then the full list of wine-dominated fortunes in France according to my estimates.
The Wine Fortune list (or Wine Rich List) is obviously very focussed on Bordeaux with 15 mentions and Champagne with 7 mentions, and to a lesser extent Burgundy with 5 mentions but three of them relating to the same property. Just two has another base: one in the Rhône Valley and one based in Alsace but focussing more on mass-market wines.
This could be further analysed into more detailed categories to understand where wealth comes from in wine, for example “those who have created a fortune with wine” and “those who have inherited and are wealth managers”. Another interesting slicing would be “fortunes based on soaring land prices” (probably most of the ones on the list).
Making a valuation of a fortune is not an easy task, so thank you for the great job of the journalists at Challenges Magazine in France. In some cases it is fairly straight-forward, especially when it is question of people who own a stake in publicly listed companies.
But many of the “wine fortunes” must be very difficult to estimate. For example, how do you estimate a fortune that is to a large extent based on owning, say, Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux? There is no real market value for this prestigious almost 100-hectare estate. But one can of course say that a hectare of Margaux vineyard costs around 1-3 million euro per hectare and since this is the most prestigious one, at the upper end or even more. Even more difficult: Domaine de la Romanée Conti in Burgundy that owns perhaps ten of the most exclusive grand cru hectares in Burgundy. There is nothing to compare with, not at all like in Bordeaux. Perhaps one can say “the most expensive land transaction in Burgundy was – it is said – at 34 million per hectare and the DRC hectares must be way beyond that”. That is probably how they do. (But even at that price, it would be small change for France’s richest person.)
- Properties listed below can be fully-owned or sometimes part-owned. It is not always easy to know. In some cases, they can just be “controlled” or “managed”, although they should perhaps not be included in that case.
- Properties change hands. What someone owns today may change tomorrow.
In other words, don’t read it as gospel.
- You can help keeping this updated. Let me know in a comment if you find something that is wrong, that has changed, that is missing…
Top ten French fortunes who own vineyards or with some other interest in wine
We have compiled a list of France’s richest people who own vineyards. In the below list, we give you
- The ranking of the person’s total fortune – in many cases the family’s – on Challenges Magazines list of France’s 500 wealthiest people
- The “owning vineyard ranking” in parenthesis
- The estimate of their wealth, also as evaluated by the French magazine Challenges in the summer issue 2023
- Some short comments on their vineyard holdings or fortune.
Important: In many cases, the properties listed here are financial investments that are bought and sold. Who owns what changes over time.
If you have any updates to the list, please feel free to post a comment!
1 (1) – Bernard Arnault & family
203 billion euro.
Arnault controls LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton). For some time, he was the world’s richest person earlier this year, until the value of Tesla shares went up and Elon Musk overtook him.
Given the name of the group one would think that wine and spirits account for a large part of the business. It does not. The drinks division only accounts for some 10% of revenues.
LVMH includes several champagne houses and wineries, some of the most famous names in the business.
Fully or sometimes part-owned wine properties:
In Bordeaux: Chateau d’Yquem, Château Cheval Blanc. In Burgundy: Clos des Lambrays (and associated properties). In Champagne: Ruinart, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon that technically is just a sub-brand of Moët but in recent years have been profiled as a separate “house”, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Mercier. Provence: Chateau Galoupet, Château Minuty, Château d’Esclans. Elsewhere: Joseph Phelps, Chandon, Newton, Cloudy Bay, Colgin, Terrazas de los Andes, Bodega Numanthia, Cheval des Andes. And no doubt some others. The LVMH properties are estimated to account for a quarter to a third of all champagne made, but still, the wine and spirits division in LVMH is a very small part of the total business.
3 (2) – Alain and Gérard Wertheimer and family
100 billion euro
Based on the Chanel fortune they own Chateau Rauzan-Ségla and Chateau Canon in Bordeaux and St Supery Estate Vineyards in California (bought from the French wine family Skalli).
6 (3) – Dassault & family
32 bn euro.
Owns chateaux in Bordeaux, named Chateau Dassult (previously Chateau Couperie), as a small side activity to the defence industry as well as other businesses.
7 (4) – François Pinault & family
31 bn euro.
Owns several wine estates and a champagne house, as a small side business to his main activity through his investment company called Artemis. The properties in Artemis Domaines includes Chateau Latour (Bordeaux), Domaine d’Eugénie (previously Domaine René Engel in Burgundy), Château Grillet (Rhône), Clos de Tart (see link in the introduction, maybe the world’s most expensive vineyard land), Champagne Jacquesson, Maison & Domaines Henriot (which includes Bouchard Père & Fils in Beaune, William Fèvre in Chablis, Maison Henriot in Champagne, and Beaux-Frères in Oregon). Shortly after this last acquisition Artemis sold Henriot to Champagnes Nicolas Feuillatte, a cooperative. And they might well have some more.
9 (5) – Pierre Castel & family
14 bn euro.
The first on the list whose primary business is drinks, although a large part is beer in Africa. He started out as negociant in Bordeaux but then branched out into a very successful business in Africa with big beer production. Today, one of the world’s biggest wine producers. The patriarch, Pierre Castel, is currently famously involved in an unpaid tax claim in Switzerland.
They are more famous for their medium to low-end wines than famous estates. Their brands (fully or partially owned) include Barton & Guestier (Bordeaux), Patriarche (Burgundy), Listel, Kriter, Société des vins de France, Barrière (Bordeaux) and others.
They have interest in (or own) more prestigious properties through Castel Chateaux & Grands Crus. Some of the more famous being: Chateau Ferrand, Chateau d’Arcins, Chateau Beychevelle (co-owner?), Château Barreyres, Château Tour Prignac and several others. Co-owner of Château Beaumont… The have owned Château Tour-Saint-Christophe, Château Tour-Musset and Château-Haut-Caplane. They may still own them or not. To verify.
They also own the chain of wine shops called Nicolas.
15 (6) – François Perrodo & family
9 bn euro.
Built a fortune in the oil business, Perenco, but with some wine interests. Chateau Labégorce (including Château Labégorce-Zédé), Chateau la Tour de Mons, Château Marquis d’Alesme Becker. Maybe others ?
18 (7) – Hennessy, Moët and Chandon families
7.5 bn euro.
They still own some 2% of LVMH after selling their properties to Arnault, so a very indirect interest. Maybe they have retaken a participation in others?
19 (8) – Alexandre Ricard & family
7.4 bn euro.
A fortune mainly built on spirits, of course, the Pernod and Ricard anis flavoured spirits. But they also own some wine estates.
In Champagne: Mumm and Perrier-Jouët.
In still wines: Campo Viejo and Ysios in Rioja; Brancott Estate, Church Road, Stoneleigh in New Zealand; George Wyndham and St Hugo in Australia; Kenwood in California.
22 (9) – Robert Peugeot and family
5.4 billion euro
Was previously a significant part owner of Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes. The majority of the stake has been sold to Matthieu Gufflet but it may be that Peugeot has retained a smaller stake.
27 (10) – Ariane de Rothschild & family
4.9 bn euro.
The Franco-Swiss branch of this banking family heading Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. Interest in or ownership of e.g. Château Clarke, Château des Laurets, Flechas de los Andes, Rimapere (NZ), Rupert and Rothschild Vignerons (South Africa), Champagne Barons de Rothschild, Akaura (Central Otago), Macán (Rioja). Possibly some interest in Château Lafite Rothschild, as well as others.
30 (11) – Ginette Moulin & family
4.5 bn euro.
Galeries Lafayette fortune with some prestigious vineyard interests in Bordeaux: Chateau Beauregard, Château Petit-Village, Château Pavillon Beauregard.
32 (12) – Marc Hériard-Dubreuil & family
4.3 bn euro.
The family controls the Rémy Cointreau group, which is focussed on spirits but includes some wine, notably the recently acquired Champagne Telmont (previously De Telmont).
After the top ten
As you can see in this top-ten list, few, if any, have built their fortune on wine. For that, you will have to go further down in the ranking, where some family fortunes do stem from wine. You could argue that the first one on the list after this top-ten, who built his fortune on wine, is Bernard Magrez (nr 116, 1.15 bn euro), but that is only partially correct. Today, he owns many chateaux in Bordeaux, but the origin of the fortune is, to a large extent, spirits. Then we have Eric and Robert de Rothschild a few notches further down (nr 118, 1.1 bn euro), owners of Chateau Lafite, but they also have big stakes in the finance business.
11 to 20
So, let’s continue down the list of the richest French with vineyards
33 (13) – Eric Guerlain & family
4.2 bn euro
They still own a small percentage of LVMH after selling the Guerlain property to Arnault, so a very indirect interest.
36 (14) – Martin & Olivier Bouygues and family
3.75 bn euro
Owns Chateau Montrose, Bordeaux, and also Château Tronquoy-Lalande, Clos Rougeard (Saumur), Domaine Henri Rebourseau (Gevrey-Chambertin) and La Truffière de Cément (Chinon).
54 (15) – Michel Reybier
2.2 bn euro
A hotel and health operations billionaire who owns Château Cos d’Estournel, Château de Lauzade and Chateau la Mascaronne in Provence, Hétszőlő (Tokaj), and Champagne Jeeper.
60 (16) – Jean-Claude Fayat
2 bn euro
A construction fortune that also owns Château La Dominique (Saint-Emilion), Château d’Aney, Château Clément Pichon (Medoc), Château Fayat (Pomerol)…
71 (17) – Patrice Pichet and family
1.6 bn euro
A real-estate fortune that includes Château Les Carmes Haut Brion (Bordeaux).
71 (17) – Savare family
1.6 bn euro
The family enterprise François-Charles Oberthur makes its money from printing bank notes and other security documents. Owns a number of vineyards in Bordeaux: Chateau Franc Mayne (read more here) and has interests in Chateau Palomey, Clos la Niverdière (Chinon). Not sure which other wine properties they might have.
75 (19) – Jean-Pierre et Edith Cayard and family
1.5 bn euro
Owners of La Martiniquaise, one of the world’s biggest spirits companies, including a dominant position in Calvados I believe, with wine interests mainly focussed on mass-market brands: Porto Cruz, “the best-selling port brand worldwide”, Quinta de Ventozelo (Douro), Perlino (Prosecco), Cruz Espumante, Dauré vin doux naturel, a brand called “Kir Royale”… And also, the chain of wine shops Repaire de Bacchus (with a much better selection of wines than the other wine shop on this list, Nicolas), and the online shop Wineandco.
75 (20) – Christopher Descours and family
1.5 bn euro
The EPI holding includes several luxury brands, and also some wine: Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck in Champagne, Biondi-Santi and Isole e Olena in Tuscany, Tardieu-Laurent (Rhône), Château la Verrerie (Luberon)…
75 (20) – Frédéric Gervoson and the Chapoulart and Gervoson families
1.5 billion euro
A fortune built on marmalade and fruit juice (Andros). Owner of Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion.
21 to 30
Getting closer to “real” wine fortunes
So far, we have mainly seen fortunes based on other businesses than wine that have also invested in some wine estates, in many cases because it is something that the owner feels passionate about (on top of managing the fortune). Moving down to number 21 and further, some of the fortunes are in fact more focussed on wine, but far from all. Wealthy French people (as of all nationalities) like their vineyards.
87 (22) – Le Lous family
1.4 bn euro
A pharma and health-care fortune (Urgo) that also owns a wine estate in Bordeaux: Chateau Cantenac Brown.
93 (23) – Edouard Carmignac and family
1.3 bn euro
A finance fortune that bought Domaine de la Courtade on the Ile de Porquerol some years ago.
116 (24) – Bernard Magrez
1.15 bn euro
Bernard Magrez owns many wine chateaux in Bordeaux as well as in Provence, Rhône, Languedoc and abroad, over 40. The most famous one is Chateau Pape-Clement, followed by, for example, La Tour Carnet, Fombrauge, Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Château La Tour Carnet, Château Les Grands Chênes, Château Moulin de Noaillac, Château Moulin d’Ulysse, Château Hauterive and many others. Today, Bernard Magrez Grand Vignobles is very focused on wine, but the origin of the fortune is in spirits, with the company/brand William Pitters (whisky and other spirits) that he founded in 1964 and later sold. In Spain: Marques de Oro, Temperancia and others; Argentina: Ariès, La Bienvenida; Chile : Leyenda, Serenida and others ; Brazil : Brilho ; Japan : Magrez-Aruga; Morocco: Excelcio, Kahina; Portugal: Ariela; Uruguay: Elegancia; California: Première; Italy: I’mani and more…
As you can see, even if Pape-Clément is the star of the collection, the bulk of it is much humbler names.
118 (25) – Eric and Robert de Rothschild and family
1.1 bn euro
Co-owners of the bank Rothschild & Cie, which probably contributes more to the fortune that their rather famous wine estates: Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild, Duhart Milon, Rieussec, Paradis Casseuil, L’Evangile, Domaine s’Aussières, Los Vascos, Bodegas Caro, Domaine de Long Dai…
145 (26) – Philippe Sereys de Rothschild and family
925 million (M) euro
The owners of the Baron Philippe de Rothschild group, including Chateaux Mouton Rothschild, Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac, Domaine de Baronarques, Opus One, Almaviva, Escudo Rojo, Mouton Cadet, Mapu…
155 (27) – Frédéric Rouzaud and family
845 M euro
The family owns Champagne Louis Roederer and has acquired other wine properties too: Champagne Deutz, Domaine Ott (Provence), Delas (Rhône), Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Merry Edwards Winery (Sonoma Valley), Château de Pez…
156 (28) – Jacky Lorenzetti and family
825 M euro
Entrepreneur with multiple current and past businesses (real-estate agent, sports, shopping centres, hotels…), and also now a handful of Bordeaux chateau: Chateau d’Issan (part owner), Chateau Pédesclaux, Chateau Lafon-Rochet (recently bought from the Tesseron family), Chateau Lilian Ladouys, Chateau Béhjèré (Pauillac) and a shareholding in the négociant LD Vins.
169 (29) – Philippe Austruy and family
750 M euro
A health-care empire with some vineyard interests: Chateau Peyrassol (Provence), Château Malescasse (Bordeaux), Quinta da Côrte (Douro), Tenuta Casenuove (Tuscany)
178 (30) – Corinne Mentzelopoulos and family
725 M euro
The owners of Chateau Margaux, acquired in 1977. But the fortune originally comes from having had 1600 grocery stores in Paris and a large number of real-estate properties.
178 (30) – David and Edouard de Rothschild and family
725 M euro
A smaller interest in Rothschild & Cie, like the relatives Eric and Robert de Rothschild above.
31 to 40
A handful of – nowadays – wine-focussed fortunes
In this section, between thirty and forty, we have a few more “real” wine fortunes, where the activity is actually focussed on wine, even if at least some of them started as a business of another typ. It must be quite hard to estimate the value of these fortunes since much of it is based on assumptions of land value and brand value. How, for instance, can one put a number on the value of the grand cru hectares owned by the DRC?
182 (32) – Olivier Halley and family
A retailing fortune (Promodès, Carrefour) that owns a few wine estates: château de Meursault and châteaux de Marsannay. They previously owned Château la Dauphine in Bordeaux.
195 (33) – Olivier Bertrand
675 M euro
A restaurant fortune that bought Clos de Nonville in 2021, just an hour south of Paris. Perhaps it will soon be served in the group’s restaurants? (Burger King, Hippopotamus, Chez Léon…)
214 (34) – Jean-François and Jean Moueix and family
625 M euro
Majority owners of Château Pétrus (Pomerol, Bordeaux) and owners of the Duclot négociant through the holding Videlot.
217 (35) – François Faiveley and family
600 M euro
In wine circles, Faiveley is known for its Burgundy negociant business, Domaine Faively. The fortune was, however, built on railway equipment, Faiveley Transport, which was sold to the American Wabtec in 2016. The family’s subsequent stake in Wabtec is worth some 570 million euro currently.
217 (35) – Jean-Etienne and François Matton and family
600 M euro
The family was previously the owners of Château Minuty in Provence. It has been sold to LVMH, as one of the transactions contributing to the rapid rise in vineyard prices in Provence (and the disappearance of many great red and white Provence wines). The family is still shareholders.
217 (35) – Hervé Vinciguerra
600 M euro
With his company Alix Investment, he was co-owner of Chateau d’Esclans together with Sacha Lichine but sold his stake to … LVMH. I don’t know what his current wine investment is. Perhaps LVMH?
240 (38) – Pierre Gattaz and family
550 M euro
An industrialist with a fortune based on electronics. He has bought a wine property, Château de Sannes in Luberon.
240 (39) – Patrick Teycheney
550 M euro
A fortune built on retirement homes although he is actually a winegrower’s son. He owns a few wine properties: Châteaux Fleur de Lisse, Château L’Étampe and Château Gaillard in Bordeaux, and an old family property Château La Loubière through the holding Vignobles Jade.
259 (40) – Jean-Jacques Frey
535 M euro
A real-estate fortune that has been diversified with a few wine properties. First Champagne Henri Germain, then Champagne Ayala (later sold to Bollinger – one of them or both? Don’t know), Mumm, Perrier-Jouët also sold rapidly, part owner of Billecart Salmon. I don’t know if he still retains any champagne interests (I am guessing not). Best known for Chateau La Lagune and later Paul Jaboulet Ainé (Rhône), both managed by his daughter Caroline Frey. And finally, Château de Corton-André in Burgundy.
More and more wine business
In the tranche from 41 to 50 of rich French owning vineyards we find more family fortunes that are really involved in wine, more than just as a side-activity. We have, above all, some Champagne fortunes and some from Bordeaux and one Burgundian.
260 (41) – Matthieu Gufflet “and management”
520 M euro
A fortune based on a consulting business (EPSA). Owns a number of properties: Domaine les Aurelles in Languedoc, Château Les Bachelards in Beaujolais, Château Guiraud (majority) in Sauternes, Château de Callac in Graves.
264 (42) – Alexandra and Stéphanie de Nonancourt and family
500 M euro
Owners of Champagnes Laurent Perrier (65.1%, market capitalisation 720 million), which includes Champagne Salon, Champagne Delamotte, Champagne de Castellane.
289 (43) – Families Duval-Fleury and Corneau
450 M euro
A fortune built on insurance (Athéna), sold in and invested in various business through Cogepa. Owns Chateau Sanctus (Bordeaux), previously called Chateau La Bienfaisance.
309 (44) – Gérard Perse
425 M euro
Made a fortune with supermarkets (Champion, Continent), sold, and converted to wine. Owns Chateau Pavie, Clos Lunelle, Chateau Pavie-Decesse and Château Bellevue-Mondotte in Bordeaux.
310 (45) – Bertrand de Villaine and family
420 M euro
Successor to (and nephew of) the legendary Aubert de Villaine at the head of the family interests in Burgundy properties, notably 50% of Domaine de la Romanée Conti (DRC).
319 (46) – Ballande family
400 M euro
Groupe Ballande was founded in the mid-1800s as a wine trading house in Bordeaux (négociant). It later became focussed on maritime transport and trade with the colonies, raw materials, and mining. Today, the négociant Ballande & Méneret own some Bordeaux chateaux: Ch Barret, Ch Vieux Manoir, and – most famous – Château Prieuré Lichine. They also own two wine shops in Bordeaux: Bordeaux Magnum and Dock du Vin.
319 (46) – Bollinger family
400 M euro
Société Jacques Bollinger. Owners of Champagne Bollinger, that according to some estimates makes well over one million bottles. They also control Champagne Ayala, Maison Chanson, Domaine Hubert Brochard and Chateau d’Etroyes in Burgundy, Langlois-Chateau in the Loire Valley, Delmain cognac, Ponzi in Oregon, and have interests in Tapanappa Winery in Australia.
319 (46) – Carol Duval-Leroy and family
400 M euro
Owner of Champagne Duval-Leroy that, according to some sources, makes around 4-5 million bottles, owns 200 hectares, and has a turnover of 50 million euro.
319 (46) – Michel Ohayon
400 M euro
A diversified retailing business through the holding Hermione People & Brands but that currently (mid-23) is in some sort of legal redress process (redressement judiciaire). Owns (or owned) Chateau Trianon in Saint Emilion.
351 (50) – Jean-Hubert Delon and Geneviève d’Alton and families
370 M euro
They own Chateau Léoville las Cases in Saint Julien and also Chateau Potensac (Médoc) and Chateau Nénin.
51 to 60
Almost only wine business fortunes
Between 51 and 60 we a lot of family fortunes currently involved with wine (with one exception). That is a bit surprising, since even with “only” 300 million euros you could easily afford to buy one, or even a few, very good properties as trophy wineries. Why are there so few trophy wineries in this tranche? Perhaps the reason is that these more “modest” fortunes don’t attract as much media attention as the super-rich so it is less well-known what wine interests they have?
Perhaps you can contribute some knowledge of people owning vineyards in this tranche?
352 (51) – Christophe Gruy and family
360 M euro
A construction and real-estate fortune that also includes Chateau de la Chaize, a very big estate (300 ha) in Beaujolais since 2017.
380 (52) – Hugues Souparis
340 M euro
An industrial holding (Enowe) that recently (spring 2023) bought a the legendary Irouléguy wine property Domaine Brana.
380 (52) – Jean-Michel Cazes (died on June 23, 2023) and Sylvie Cazes and family
340 M euro
Owners of Chateau Lynch-Bages as well as numerous other wine estates: Chateau Haut-Batailley, Chateau Ormes de Pez, Domaine des Sénécahaux (Chateauneuf-du-Pape), Domaine de l’Ostal (Languedoc), Roquette & Cazes (Douro), Michel Lynch…
380 (52) – Denis Merlaut and the Villars family
340 M euro
The Groupe Taillan is a négociant that also owns several wine estates: Chateau Gruaud Larose, Chateau Citran and Chateau Broustet and several in Bordeaux, in total about a dozen, in addition to a number that they help manage. They have four négociant businesses, Maison Ginestet, Vignobles & Compagnie, Joseph Verdier and Grand Sud Vins. And also Osoyoos Larose in Okanaga Valley.
380 (52) – Christian and Edouard Moueix
340 M euro
J-P Moueix (Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix) is a négociant business but also has a number of “family properties” in Bordeaux: , Château Trotanoy, Château La Fleur-Pétrus, Château Hosanna, Château Latour à Pomerol, Château La Grave, Château Lafleur-Gazin, Château Lagrange (Pomerol), Château Bélair-Monange, Haut Roc Blanquant, Clos La Madeleine. And also in Napa Valley: Dominus, Napanook, Othello, Ulysses. They were once also the owners and managers of Chateau Petrus but after the death of Jean-Pierre it belongs to Jean-François Moueix.
384 (56) – Bruno and Marie Borie and family
335 M euro
Etablissement Jean-Eugène Borie owns several Bordeaux châteaux. Most famous is Château Ducru Beaucaillou. Also Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Lalande-Borie, Grand-Puy Lacoste, Haut-Batailley (this latter now sold to Cazes).
386 (57) – Jean-Pierre Cointreaux and family
330 M euro
Iconic Nectars-Renaud Cointreau is the family holding that is most known for its orange-flavoured spirit. It also owns Cognac Frapin and Champagne Gosset.
394 (58) – de Boüard de Laforest family
325 M euro
Owners of the Château Angélus, a family property, in Saint Emilion and also Ch La Fleur de Boüard, Château Daugay (which is under the control of another branch of the family than Angélus). Hubert de Boüard has a minority interest in Klein Constantia in South Africa.
402 (59) – Lalou Bize-Leroy and Perrine Fénal
315 M euro
Mother and daughter own 25% of Domaine de la Romanée Conti (DRC) and Domaine d’Auvenay as well as holding the majority of the Maison Leroy
402 (59) – Paul-François Vranken and family
Of Belgian origin he has built an empire in Champagne including Champagne Pommery, Vranken, Demoiselle, Heidsieck & Co Monopole, Charles Lafitte. Chateau la Gordonne and Domaine Royale de Jarras in Provence. Porto Rozès, São Pedro das Aguias and Quinta do Grifo in Portugal.
61 to 70
(Almost) the first from outside of Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy
Here we have Champagne and Bordeaux fortunes, with a little touch of Burgundy. We also have (more or less) the first “outsider” (not from any of those three regions), a Rhône Valley fortune!
404 (61) – Philippe Castéja and family
310 M euro
Owners of one of the major négociants in Bordeaux, Borie-Manoux as well as co-owner or co-owner of several wine estates: châteaux Batailley, Lynch-Moussas, Trotte-Vieille, Domaine de l’Eglise, château Peyrabon (recently bought), Château Pignon, Château Beau-Site, Château Haut-Madrac, Château Haut-Bages Monpelou… They also recently acquired Château Bas in Provence. Also, the négociants Port de la Lune, De Luze Grands Vins de Gironde and Mälher-Besse, as well as the online wine shops lagrandecave.fr et 1jour1vin.com. The wife of Philippe Casteja, Catherine Castéja, was born Catherine Ballande and she retains a stake in the Ballande family business.
404 (61) – Marcel Guigal and family
310 M euro
A wine empire sprung out of the northern Rhône Valley, starting with E. Guigal (Etienne) (Domaine Guigal), adding to that Vidal-Fleury, Château d’Ampuis, domaine Jean-Louis Grippat, domaine de Vallouit and Domaine de Bonserine – all in the general region of Côte Rôtie. Continuing with Château de Nalys in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and also a cooperage. And an extensive négociant business with own brands.
411 (63) – Famille Labruyère
300 M euro
A family holding that includes Domaine Labruyère in Beaujolais, Domaine Jacques Prieur in Meursault, Château Rouget in Pomerol, and Champagne J.M. Labruyère. But I imagine that their commercial real-estate (shopping centres), hospitality and other investments might count for more.
411 (63) – Gilles de Larouzière and the Henriot family
300 M euro
Maison et Domaines Henriot has Champagne Henriot as base. Add to that Bouchard Père & Fils, Burgundy négociants and William Fèvre in Chablis and Beaux Frères in Oregon. But the company was sold last year, or at least a majority share of it, to Artemis, the wine holding of the Pinault family.
411 (63) – Pierre Rousseau and family
300 M euro
A fortune based on “recreational vehicles” (RV, camping cars) with the group Rapido (including Westfalia). Owns Chateau Laffitte Carcasset and Château Haut Beauséjour in Saint Estephe.
411 (63) – Alain Thiénot
300 M euro
Arvitis, Thiénot Family & Estates is the holding that includes several wine brands: Four champagne houses: Champagne Thiénot, Canard-Duchêne, Joseph Perrier and Champagne Marie Stuart. The acquired some years ago the Bordeaux négociant CVBG Dourthe Kressman and through them own or manage several chateau: Chateau Belgrave, Chateau le Boscq, Chateau la Garde, Chateau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac, Chateau Rahoul, Chateau Reysson, Chateau Pey la Tour and Chateau de Ricaud. They have an interest in L’Aventure in Paso Robles, an Asseo-family property.
435 (67) – Manoncourt family
295 M euro
Owners of the biggest estate in Saint Emilion, Château Figeac, as well as the tiny Château de Millery.
437 (68) – Alfred Cointreau and family
290 M euro
Has inherited a 4% stake in Rémi Cointreau, the company that one of his forefathers once co-founded, that includes some wine stakes (see above).
A special mention:
440 (NA) – Patrick Ballu and family
285 M euro
As far as I know, Patrick Ballu does not own any vineyards or wine company. But he gets a special mention here because his fortune comes from making vineyard equipment. His father is said to have invented the “enjambeur” (straddling tractor) and today Excel Industries makes a wide range of vineyards and winery equipment.
441 (69) – Alfred Tesseron and family
280 M euro
For several generations a cognac family, the origin of the fortune, they now own Chateau Pontet-Canet. The also own Pym-Rae in Napa Valley, after having bought Villa Sorriso, previously owned by Robin Williams. Another branch of the Tesseron family owned Chateau Lafon-Rochet until recently (2021) when it was sold to Lorenzetti (see that entry).
448 (70) – Eric de Turckheim
275 M euro
A commodity trading-based fortune, and ophthalmology. Part owner of Domaine Près Lasses and château d’Autignac in Languedoc.
71 to 76
The end of the French 500-Rich List, with one of the few who built his fortune in wine in modern times
In the last section, 71 to 76 we also have mostly wine fortunes and not so many trophy wineries. As mentioned above, I suspect this is not a true picture but one du to that media focuses a lot on the very biggest fortunes and finds all tiny details about them, where for the “smaller” fortunes at the end of the list media does not look to much in detail on if someone owns vineyards.
Interestingly, here we also have one of the few fortunes that has been built from scratch with wine, and even more remarkable, one that is not focussed on the prestigious regions and famous brands but more on mass-market wines, nr 76.
461 (71) – Philippe Cuvelier
260 M euro
A fortune that stems from office supplies (Guilbert). After selling the group to PPR in 1998 he invests in Bordeaux estates: Clos Fourtet, Château des Grandes Murailles, Clos Saint-Martin, château Côte de Baleau in Saint Emilion, and château Poujeaux in Moulis.
464 (71) – Pol-Roger and de Billy Family
255 M euro
The two families own Champagne Pol-Roger.
466 (73) – Jean-Charles and Nathalie Boisset and family
250 M euro
They own the negociant and wine holding Grands Vins Jean-Claude Boisset. Brands included in their house: Domaine de la Bougeraie, Jean-Claude Boisset, J Moreaux & Fils, Labouré Roi, Louis Bouillot, Alex Gambal, Bouchard Aîné & Fils, Ropiteau & Frères, Antonin Rodet, Château de Pierreux, Mommessin, all in Burgundy; Domaine Maire & Fils in Jura; Bouachon, Bonpas and Gabriel Meffre in the Rhône valley; Fortant in Languedoc; Charles de Frere and Haute Couture sparkling; Deloach Vinyards, Buena Vista, Raymond Vineyards, Lockwood Vineyards, Amberhill and Lyeth Estate in California; Villa Moncigale in Provence.
466 (73) – Sophie Defforey and family
250 M euro
Daughter of one of the Carrefour founders. Has taken a stake in the Rhone wine producer and négociant M Chapoutier. (Chapoutier was once on the list himself.) As far as I know, no other wine interests.
466 (73) – Pierre and André Richard and family
250 M euro
A distribution and supplies for cafés fortune (you have surely seen “Café Richard” in a café in France). Owns Chateau la Nerthe in Chateauneuf-du Pape, most famous, but also Château Escalette, Château Gantonnet, Château Victoria, Château Bourdieu-Vertheuil and Château Barbe in Bordeaux, Château de Corcelles and Château des Tours in Beaujolais, and, of course, the distribution business Richard Vins & Spiritueux.
489 (76) – Joseph Helfrich and Gunther Bimmerle
240 M euro
Owners of Grands Chais de France (Groupe GCF), France’s biggest wine exporter and one of the biggest wine companies. Owns some 3500 ha vineyards. Better known for their branded mass-market wines: JP Chenet, Grand Sud, Calvet, Divine, Arthur Metz… But they also own a number of estates: Domaine Sainte-Marguerite, Maison Klipfel, Clos Saint-Jacques, Domaine du Moulin de Dusenbach, just to mention a few in Alsace. They are present in the Jura, Burgundy, Rhone Valley, Provence, Languedoc, Bordeaux, Loire… Some more: Blanc Foussy (cheap Loire sparking), Carod (Clairette de Die), Chateau de Fesles (quite decent Loire wines), Chateau de la Tuilerie (Rhone), Domaine de la Baume, Maison François Martenont (Burgundy négociant), Danubiana (Hungary), Weinkellerei HXM Mainz, Moillard (Burgundy négociant). And, the quite excellent Chilean domaine Viña las Niñas in Cholchagua, recently bought (2022) from the three French founders.
Goes to show that you do not need to focus on exclusive wines to make a fortune in wine. The group was founded in 1979.
489 (76) – Isabelle Roch and the heirs of Charles Roch and Henry-Frédéric Roch
240 M euro
They are cousins to Leroy and de Villaine (mentioned above) and have 25% of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, DRC. Also owns Domaine Prieuré-Roch that has some 20 ha in Burgundy.
Of France’s 500 biggest fortunes, 77 are involved in wine, 15%. But only 31 of them have a majority of the business in wine, not more than 6%.
— End of list —
Apologies to all concerned for errors or omissions!
Please post a comment for any correction.
Thank you to Challenges Magazine for creating the annual list of “France’s 500 richest people” on which this list is based.
Other candidates for the “French wine Rich List”
There are some others who are not on this list but that could perhaps one day be included, or have (more or less) been there before. Here are a few in no particular order. (Again, “with family”.)
The group Lanson BCC. Bruno Paillard founded Champagne Bruno Paillard in 1981. It also includes today Champagne Lanson, Champagne Chanoine Frères, Champagne Besserat de Bellefon, Champagne Boizel, Champagne De Venoge, Champagne Philipponnat, Domaine Alexandre Bonnet, Maison Burtin. Was previously on the 500 Rich List with 234 M euro in 2017.
Daniel and Florence Cathiard
Orignally professional skiers who built a sports retailing empire (Go Sport, founded in 1976, sold in 1990) that has transformed into a winery group: Château Smith Haut Lafitte, since 2020 an estate in Napa which I don’t know the name of (maybe not yet launched). Also Château Cantelys and Château Le Thil Comte Clary and co-owners of château Beauregard and Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne. They were previously on the 500 Rich List noted with 215 million euros in 2017.
Alain and Catherine Vauthier
Owners of Chateau Ausone in Saint Emilion. Also: Chateau Moulin Saint Georges and Chateau Fonbel. They were previously on the 500 Rich List noted as 210 million euros in 2017.
The family of André Lurton
André Lurton, one of the great men of Bordeaux of his generation, died in 2019. “Les Vignobles André Lurton” is today headed by André’s son Jacques Lurton. It includes Château Bonnet, Château Couhins Lurton, Château La Louvière, Château de Rochemorin, Château de Cruzeau, Château de Barbe Blanche. The other son, François Lurton, is also a successful wine entrepreneur. André Lurton was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 250 million euros in 2017.
Anthony Barton family
Anthony Barton was the owner of Chateau Langoa-Barton and Chateau Leoville-Barton. Anthony Barton died in 2022. Was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 180 million euros in 2017.
Henri Lurton and the family of Lucien Lurton
Lucien Lurton was another of the great men of his generation in Bordeaux and another Lurton. He built an empire with great chateaux that he left to his ten children (one each): Château Brane-Cantenac, Château Desmirail, Château Villegeorge, Château Duplessis, Château La Tour de Bessan, Château Bouscaut, Château Lamotte-Bouscaut, Château Durfort-Vivens, Château Domeye, Château Camarsac, Château Climens. I don’t know if they are all still in the family.
Alain Sichel and family
Maison Sichel is one of the big négociants in Bordeaux. They also own several chateaux: Chateau Angludet, Chateau Palmer (co-owner), Chateau Argadens, Chateau Daviaud. Was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 200 million euros in 2017.
Maison Mähler-Besse is one of the big négociants in Bordeaux. They also own a number of chateaux: Chateau Palmer (co-owner), Château Cheval Noir, Château Alfa La Bernade, Château la Couronne, Château Picard. Was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 180 million euros in 2017.
Maison Janoueix owns several Bordeaux châteaux: Château Haut Sarpe, Château La Croix, Château La Croix St Georges, Château La Croix Toulifaut, Château Castelot, Château La Gasparde. Was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 175 million euros in 2017.
Louis-Fabrice Latour family
Louis-Fabrice Latour died in 2022. He headed the big négociant Masion Louis Latour in Burgundy, also owning significant vineyards. Was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 175 million euros in 2017.
Michel Chapoutier and family
Chapoutier is one of the big négociants of the Rhône valley, originally the north. They now own numerous vineyards and estates, including: Domaine de Bila-Haut, Dominio del Soto, Château des Ferrages, Domaine Roc Folassière, Dos Lusiadas, Domaine Tournon and others. Was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 170 million euros in 2017. Considering that Sophie Defforey has taken a significant stake in the company (see above) and they have fallen off the 500-rich list, I can’t help wondering if something has happened?
Brice de la Monardière and the heirs of Anne-Claude Leflaive
Domaine Leflaive is one of the most respected domains in Burgundy. Was previously on the 500 Rich List, noted as 140 million euros in 2017.
Maison Joseph Drouhin is a major négociant in Burgundy. They have extensive vineyard holdings in Burgundy. They also own Domaine Drouhin in Oregon. Noted as reaching 130 million euros in 2017.
Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger and family
Champagne Taittinger is one of the biggish champagne houses (négociants) making some 7 million bottles. The family holding, that included a prestigieous real-estate property in Paris, was sold to an American real-estate company in 2005 but the wine business was bought back in 2006 (the buyer wanted the real-estate in Paris). Also owns Domaine Carneros in California. Were also involved in a property in Savoie. Noted as reaching 120 million euros in 2017.
Château Branaire-Ducru was bought by Patrick Maroteaux in 1988. After his death in 2017 it remains in the family. Noted as reaching 110 million euros in 2017.
Jean-Gautreau and family
Jean-Gautreau built up a substantial wine négociant business in Bordeaux that he sold in 2000. He owns Chateau Sociando Mallet. Noted as reaching 100 million euros in 2017.
Does he still own La Bastide Blanche in Bandol and Domaine de La Croix?
Renaud et Laurent Mommeja
Two of several heirs of the Hermès founder who owns Chateau Fourcas Hosten.
Co-founder of the Accor hotel group. Owns Sas Vignobles Paul Dubrule with the winery Domaine La Cavale in Luberon. Noted as reaching 280 million euros in 2015.
Made a fortune from clothing (Zannier, later Kidiliz), sold to a Chinese group in 2018. Owns Chateau Saint-Maur in Provence and Quinta Do Pessegueiro in the Douro. Noted as reaching 550 million euros in 2015.
Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle & Cyril de Bournet, and François de Gasperis
I am not sure what relation there is between Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle (with husband Cyril de Bournet) and François de Gasperis, if any. They all have a fortune with origin in the Grand Marnier spirit, sold in 2016 to Campari. Before the sale, the company owned Chateau de Sancerre, now sold. Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and Cyril de Bournet founded and now own the Marnier-Lapostolle wine estate in Chile which includes Clos Apalta in Colchagua. Read more on Clos Apalta in the BKWine Magazine article. The Marnier-Lapostolle family was noted as reaching 110 million euros in 2015. François de Gasperis was noted as reaching 110 million euros in 2015.
Some more fortunes with vineyards
Here are a few more family fortunes – maybe not in the same league – that include a winery or a vineyard.
Made a fortune with TNS Sofres and owns Chateau Thuerry in Provence.
Owns Maison Albert Bichot, including domaine Long-Depaquit, Domaine du Pavillon, Domaine du Clos Frantin, Domaine Adélie, Château-Gris and Domaine de Rochegrès.
Claire et Marie de Ladoucette
Two sisters who own Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé in Burgundy.
Once president of Cartier, now owner of Chateau Lagrezette in Cahors.
Once owner and boss of Picard Surgelés sold to Carrefour in 1994, has built a collection of wine estates: Mas Amiel in Roussillon, in Bordeaux Château Jean Faure, Château Haut-Ballet, Château Haut-Maurac, in Burgundy Domaine Decelle & Fils and Vignoble de Boisseyt.