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WINE

US-Colombian billionaire buys stake in France’s legendary Petrus vineyard

An American-Colombian billionaire may soon be one of the world's most popular dinner hosts.

US-Colombian billionaire buys stake in France's legendary Petrus vineyard
Photo: AFP

Financier and philanthropist Alejandro Santo Domingo has bought a 20-percent stake in Petrus, the family-owned vineyard behind one of the most 
sought-after Bordeaux reds on the planet, a source close to the family told AFP on Friday.

The deal was made about a year ago but only revealed late Thursday in a report by French daily Les Echos.

“The two families have known each other a long time. This transaction gives them a chance to invest in other European vineyards,” the source said, adding 
that it was a “very long term partnership”.

No financial details were given, though the source denied a Les Echos estimate that the Petrus domaine, situated on just 11.5 hectares (2.5 acres), 
was worth over one billion euros ($1.16 billion).

But afficionados know those few acres cover a rare deposit of so-called “blue clay” high on the Pomerol patch along the Dordogne river, which 
specialists say confers the wine's distinctive bouquet.

Fully owned by the Moueix family since the 1960s, it produces about 30,000 bottles of 100 percent Merlot wine a year, which are snapped up years in advance by collectors ready to pay several thousand euros per bottle.

The French wine retailer Lavinia currently lists the 2013 vintage at 3,380 euros — with prices for other years available on request.

Petrus also owns Duclot, a wine merchant group specialising in high-end Bordeaux wines since 1886.

Santo Domingo, 41, manages his family's wealth — it is one of the main shareholders in brewing giant AB Inbev — via Quadrant Capital Advisors, which is based in New York.

He is married to Lady Charlotte Wellesley, daughter of Charles Wellesley, Britain's ninth Duke of Wellington.

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FARMING

Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts

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