France plans to buy Russian vineyards

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Jean-François Ganevat and Benoit Pontenier joined forces to buy their estates from the Russian Pumpyansky family.

Domaine Ganevat in the Jura and Le Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian in the Languedoc were sold to Alexander Pumpyansky in 2021 and 2008 respectively. Alexander Pumpyansky is the son of billionaire metals and fossil fuel magnate Dmitry Pupyansky, and is responsible for his family’s assets in the European Union. On March 4, he placed his assets relating to the two wine estates in a holding company to escape future sanctions. It was placed on a blacklist of Russian oligarchs by the Council of the European Union on 9 March.

Benoit Pontenier is the director of Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian, and became director of Domaine Ganevat after its sale last September. He claims that the man Pumpyansky appointed to look after the estates is unfamiliar with the wine business and that the decision to regain control came ” by force of circumstances “.

The winemaker of Domaine Ganevat, Jean-François Ganevat, spoke with The French Wine Review earlier this week and acknowledged that, given the sanctions, he doesn’t know if “this takeover is possible.” Alexander Pumpyansky, according to Ganevat and Pontenier, is in favor of the sale, believing that it is the best for both areas. For Domaine Ganevat, the purchase price of the land should be the same as last year’s sale, ie around €48,000 per hectare. Natural wines from this Jura producer have been acclaimed, although given Pumpyansky’s association with Putin’s regime, questions have been raised about if it was right to drink them.

Ganevat said viticulture “is a profession of passion, and mine remains intact” despite the turbulence of the past month. Pontenier said of himself and Ganevat that they “were going to go into debt for decades”. However, the two men are convinced that it is a price to pay to ensure the future of the wine estates.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has already shaken the beverage industry, both through sanctions and supply issues.

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