In the words of one domaine owner: ‘sometimes when you want grapes you can’t find them; sometimes when you find grapes you don’t want them because the quality isn’t good.’
Taking the high road is easy, however, when you own more than a dozen hectares of premier and grand cru slopes, but fewer and fewer vignerons are able to buy land, because the very wealthy are snapping it up.
In 2014, Bernard Arnaud purchased Clos des Lambrays for a price reported as ‘more than £10m per hectare’. In 2017, American billionaire Stan Kroenke paid more than £15m/ha for Bonneau du Martray. Later that same year, French billionaire François Pinault topped them all by spending more than £32m/ha for Clos de Tart.
It isn’t just storied grand cru vineyards that are fetching top prices, the average price of all AOC land in Burgundy across the entire Côte d’Or region, all quality levels combined, was more than £630,000/ha.
What is a comparatively poor vigneron (or would-be vigneron) to do?
Typically, the answer has been to prove yourself working for someone else, find a backer, and buy some grapes. This classic approach, however, can entail excruciatingly hard work.