Silicon Valley high-flyer snaps up prestigious French winery

17th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Silicon Valley high-flyer Michael Baum has bought a leading winery in Burgundy, management at the estate said Wednesday, the latest foreigner to snap up a prestigious chateau in France's famous wine-making area.

Baum, a 50-year-old entrepreneur who made his fortune creating tech companies such as software firm Splunk, bought the 300-year-old Chateau de Pommard last week for an undisclosed sum.

The winery -- which has a huge, 20-hectare private vineyard -- was bought by French businessman Maurice Giraud in 2003, who set about renovating two chateaux on the estate that date from 1726 and 1805.

Giraud, 73, also opened an art centre on the estate that has displayed works by Dali and Miro, as well as photographers and local craftsmen.

Cecile Lepers-Jobard, chief executive of the winery, told AFP some 35,000 visitors come to the chateau every year, half of them foreigners.

Baum "was completely charmed by this place, by what it conveys and its dynamic," she said.

The estate produces 100,000 bottles every year for an annual turnover of six million euros ($7.8 million).

It is the latest winery to be snapped up by foreigners keen to cash in on the prestige of France's famous wine-making estates, in what has sometimes caused controversy.

In 2012, for instance, the acquisition by a Chinese buyer of the prestigious Chateau Gevrey-Chambertin in Burgundy triggered a major row, with local winemakers and far-right politicians claiming the country's heritage was being sold off.

© 2014 AFP

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