A wave of French winemakers —including the billionaires behind the Chanel fashion house — are finding hold in the California hills, where promising vineyards are making for some very desirable investments.
Over the past few years, vintners from Bordeaux have been eager to grab land in the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, especially as local winemakers are looking to sell to the highest bidder.
Meanwhile, back home in France, Chinese investors are buying up small wineries with the hope of supplying a growing Chinese market. Jack Ma, the founder of the enormously successful online commerce site Alibaba, and the reigning richest man in China, recently purchased a chateau in Bordeaux with the intention of creating a “mini Versailles.” At least 100 wine estates in Bordeaux now have Chinese owners.
For the French, investing in California allows winemakers to diversify their portfolios, and tap into a market for which global demand is only growing. During 2015, exports of American-made wine, 90 percent of which is produced in California, reached a record $1.61 billion in revenue. In the last year, the EU, Canada, and Hong Kong accounted for $622 million, $461 million, and $97 million, in exports respectively, and export value continues to grow.
While Chinese investors stand to benefit from the global warming that is actually improving French wines at the moment, it makes sense for French winemakers to turn their attentions to Napa Valley, where the value of vineyards continues to rise.
“The U.S. is a country that we are very comfortable in and that we are confident in investing in” Melanie Tesseron, whose family owns Château Pontet-Canet in Bordeaux, and the late Robin William’s estate in Napa, told Bloomberg.