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FOOD & DRINK

Where in France do celebrities own vineyards?

George Lucas, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Kylie Minogue, George Clooney and Tony Parker have all invested in French vineyards in the same corner of the country.

Increasing numbers of foreign celebrities are investing in French vineyards.
Increasing numbers of foreign celebrities are investing in French vineyards. (Photo by FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP)

Franco-American former basketball star and four-time NBA champion, Tony Parker, is the latest celebrity to invest in French vineyards in the Var département of southeastern France. 

He has become a partner in the domaine de vin du Château La Mascaronne – which has some 60 hectares of vineyards. Parker has also launched himself into a venture with Champagne Jeeper – a champagne producing operation near Reims. 

In a statement, the four-time NBA winner said he was committed to “taking these exceptional wines and Champagnes to the next level”. 

Parker is far from the only celebrity to invest in French viticulture. Here is a selection of the others: 

  • George Lucas

George Lucas, the writer and director of the original Star Wars films, owns the Château Margüi vineyards in the Var, producing red, white and rosé wines over some 15 hectares.

He bought the site in 2017 for some €9.5 million. He has since spent a further €15 million in modernising the cellars and building a hotel at the site. 

Château Margüi belongs to a wider network known as Skywalker Vineyards. 

  • Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bought the Château Miraval in the Var in 2008 – as well as the 500 hectares of land, including 50 hectares of vineyards, surrounding it. The cost was estimated at about €25 million. 

The site is primarily known for its rosé production. 

The estate made some €46 million in profits in 2021. Since the joint purchase, the pair have divorced and Le Parisien reports that Jolie sold her 40 percent stake to a Luxembourgish spirits manufacturer majority-owned by a Russian oligarch. 

  • George Clooney

George Clooney became the official owner of the 425-acre Domaine du Canadel wine estate, in the Var, in July 2021. 

The property is a twenty minute from George Lucas’ estate and half an hour to the one owned by Brad Pitt. 

One of the Canadel wines, a red known as Altum, was awarded a prestigious gold medal award at the salon de l’agriculture 2022. 

  • Kylie Minogue 

Australian singer Kylie Minogue sells French-produced wines, simply branded ‘Kylie Minogue’ – the best known of which is a Côtes-de-Provence. She is thought to have sold more than 2.3 million bottles since May 2020. 

Minogue was awarded one of the highest cultural honours in France, the Chevalier Dans L’ordre Des Arts et Des Lettres, in 2008.

More recently, in 2021, she signed a partnership with the château Sainte-Roseline aux Arcs-sur-Argens, in the Var, to produce and sell even more rosé. 

  • Leonardo DiCaprio 

Oscar-winning actor-turned-environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio bought a minority stake in the Champagne house, Telmont, in Damery, northeastern France. 

DiCaprio said he was attracted by the ecological credentials of the operation. 

“From protecting biodiversity on its land, to using 100 percent renewable electricity, Champagne Telmont is determined to radically lower its environmental footprint, making me proud to join as an investor,” he wrote in a statement

  • John Malkovich

Hollywood star John Malkovich bought a ten hectare property near Luberon, southeast France, in the 1980s. 

In 2008 he and his wife, Nicoletta Peyran, converted half of the land into vineyards. 

By 2020, they were producing between 16,000-18,000 bottles per year, 95 percent of which were destined for the export market. 

Wine critics rate the Pinot noir produced on the estate very highly. 

  • Jay-Z

Jay-Z is one of the most influential rappers in history and has also built a staggering career as a businessman, with the 2014 purchase of the French champagne brand Armand de Brignac among his many investments. 

The star reportedly forked out close to €200 million to by the business and has been a longtime fan of the product.

“You never get old and the champagne’s always cold,” he said in the 2009 track, Young Forever

  • Cameron Diaz 

American actor-turned entrepreneur, Cameron Diaz, sells a brand of organic wine called Avaline. 

She sources red, white and rosé wines from different parts of France.

The rosé comes from Mas de Cadenet estate, which is owned by one of the oldest winemaking families in Provence. 

  • Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi, best known as the eponymous frontman for the American rock band, Bon Jovi, produces a wine called Hampton Water. 

The rosé bottles sell for €16 and are produced in Languedoc. 

“Hampton Water captures the art of living and conviviality common to the Hamptons and the South of France,” claims its distributor.  

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CULTURE

Le goûter: The importance of the afternoon snack in France

The French have developed an entire cultural tradition around the idea of an afternoon snack. It's called "Le goûter" and here's what you need to know about it.

Le goûter: The importance of the afternoon snack in France

With all those patisseries and viennoiseries tempting the tastebuds in high street boulangerie after boulangerie, there can be little wonder that France  – which takes food very seriously – has also invented the correct time to eat them.

Let us introduce you to the cultural tradition of le goûter – the noun of the verb “to taste”, and a cultural tradition in France dating back into the 19th century, perhaps even as far back as the Renaissance … allowing for the fact that people have snacked for centuries, whether or not it had a formal name. 

It refers to a very particular snack time, usually at around 4pm daily. This is the good news.

The bad news is that, officially, le goûter is reserved for children. This is why many schools, nurseries and holiday activity centres offer it and offices don’t. The idea is that, because the family evening meal is eaten relatively late, this mid-afternoon snack will keep les enfants from launching fridge raids, or bombarding their parents with shouts of, “j’ai faim!”.

Most adults, with their grown-up iron will-power, are expected to be able to resist temptation in the face of all that pastry, and live on their three set meals per day. Le grignotage – snacking between meals – is frowned on if you’re much older than your washing machine.

But, whisper it quietly, but just about everyone snacks (grignoter), anyway – a baguette that doesn’t have one end nibbled off in the time it takes to travel from boulanger to table isn’t a proper baguette. Besides, why should your children enjoy all the treats? 

We’re not saying ignore the nutritionists, but if you lead an active, reasonably healthy lifestyle, a bite to eat in the middle of the afternoon isn’t going to do any harm. So, if you want to join them, feel free.

What do you give for goûter 

It’s a relatively light snack – we’re not talking afternoon tea here. Think a couple of biscuits, a piece of cake, a pain au chocolat (or chocolatine, for right-thinking people in southwest France), piece of fruit, pain au lait, a croissant, yoghurt, compote, or a slice of bread slathered in Nutella.

Things might get a little more formal if friends and their children are round at the goûter hour – a pre-visit trip to the patisserie may be a good idea if you want to avoid scratching madly through the cupboards and don’t have time to create something tasty and homemade.

Not to be confused with

Une collation – adult snacking becomes socially acceptable when it’s not a snack but part of une collation served, for example, at the end of an event, or at a gathering of some kind. Expect, perhaps, a few small sandwiches with the crusts cut off, a few small pastries, coffee and water.

L’apéro – pre-dinner snacks, often featuring savoury bites such as charcuterie, olives, crisps and a few drinks, including alcoholic ones, as a warm up to the main meal event, or as part of an early evening gathering before people head off to a restaurant or home for their evening meal.

Un en-cas – this is the great adult snacking get-out. Although, in general, snacking for grown-ups is considered bad form, sometimes it has to be done. This is it. Call it un en-cas, pretend you’re too hungry to wait for the next meal, and you’ll probably get away with it.

Le goûter in action

Pour le goûter aujourd’hui, on a eu un gâteau – For snack today, we had some cake.

Veuillez fournir un goûter à votre enfant – Please provide an afternoon snack for your child.

J’ai faim ! Je peux avoir un goûter ? – I’m hungry! Can I have a snack?

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