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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Want To Buy A Vineyard In France? Here's How Much It Costs

Are you nurturing a secret dream of becoming a vigneron in France, just like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? They bought the Chateau Miraval for a reported $60 million in 2013. You can get away with less than that but don’t count on it coming cheap.

France being a centralized country that is keen on agricultural control they have an organization, La Safer, that tracks all vineyard transactions and publishes annual statistics. The latest numbers were released recently.

If you want to buy a vineyard in France you can count on the average price being, according to the 2014 statistics, 136,400 euro per hectare for appellation land. That is $61,000 for an acre. “Appellation land”, technically speaking “AOP” land, refers to the French classification for recognized wine regions where appellation is the most prestigious category. Like for example the land where Jolie-Pitt bought their vines.

If you are happy with less prestigious land that is not in the AOP category you can get away with an average of 12,700 euros per hectare ($5,700 per acre). Much more affordable.

If you plan to sell the wine that you produce and not drink it all yourself then it can be important exactly where you buy the land. It is much easier to sell a bottle with Bordeaux, Champagne or Burgundy on the label than one that says Cours-Cheverny, Iroléguy or Grignan les Adhémar. (All of these are in the AOP appellation group though.)

Accordingly, the prices for land vary enormously with the fame of the appellation. It is no surprise that the most expensive wine region is Champagne, where you will have to splash out a not insignificant 1.1 million euro per hectare (just under $500,000 per acre) on average…

 Champagne is so expensive compared to other wine districts so that it more or less skews the statistics. Pull out the numbers for Champagne from the stats and you get an average price for an appellation vineyard of “only” 61,300 euro per hectare ($27,500 per acre), less than half the number including Champagne.

But even outside the luxury sparkling wine region there are very big differences.

The most affordable land is in the Languedoc-Roussillon district, a wine region that does not have much of a glittering aura for many wine cognoscenti, that is unless you have done your homework well since you can find many outstanding wines here. (Read our article on Forbes on the great wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon here.) Here in the Languedoc-Roussillon you can get by with just a little bit more than 10,000 euro per hectare ($4500 per acre) on average.

Moving up the prestige ladder you come to the French South West (le Sud-Ouest) with wine regions like the Cahors (read our article on Forbes on the wines from Cahors here), Madiran and the previously mentioned Iroléguy. In the same bracket you find, surprisingly, Corsica, the spectacularly beautiful island wine region in the Mediterranean. (But since this is a big holiday destination you will probably have to splash out quite a bit for a house instead.) All of this you can get for an average of less than 20,000 euro per hectare (just under $9,000 per acre).

Continuing to more prestigious names you arrive, in order of land price, to the Loire Valley, the Rhone Valley-Provence, Bordeaux-Aquitaine, Alsace and finally Burgundy. Average vineyard land price for a hectare in Burgundy is around 150,000 euro per hectare ($67,000 per acre).

Within each region there will also be huge differences. The ultimate famous wine brand, Bordeaux, is – on average – surprisingly cheap, “only” just over 80,000 euro per hectare (just under $36,000 per acre). But this average hides the fact that the price range is from perhaps just 15,000 euro to a stunning 2 million euro per hectare ($6,700 to $900,000 per acre) for the most famous appellations.

And then you have to keep in mind that you need quite a few hectares in order to make it a viable business. The Jolie-Pitt estate of Miraval is 1200 acres (485 hectares) although not all of it is vineyards and they have numerous buildings on the property too.

All of this pales, though, compared to what is probably the world’s most expensive vineyard land: in 2012 François Pinault, one of France’s richest persons, bought a small piece of vineyard (1/24th of a hectare, which is 417 square metres or 4489 sq ft) for 1 million euro. This equates to 24 million euro per hectare, or $11 million per acre. Which is 2300 euro per sq metre or $236 per square feet. For agricultural land.

— Per Karlsson- credit: www.thedrinksbusiness.com