Harvest the rewards of an investment in a French vineyard…
Ever dreamed of rolling hills punctuated by vines laden with rich fruit, ripe for picking, the bright sun warming your land, in advance of a plentiful harvest? With the pressures of modern life and the stress of the daily commute taking its toll on a nation struggling to pull itself out of what has become known as the worst recession faced in 100 years (according to MP Ed Balls), many British people are looking to the French countryside to make their dream of owning a vineyard a reality.
There are many reasons why France is the obvious and increasingly desirable choice for those looking to make this Utopian dream come true. Quite apart from the association that makes it synonymous with wine-making that dates back thousands of years, France has a great deal to offer those looking to make a new life abroad. Known to boast a more relaxed pace of life than the UK, this has recently been confirmed in a study by uSwitch.com which compared the UK with nine other European countries. The Quality of Life Index revealed that the quality of life in the UK is the poorest in Europe, whereas that of France was the best quality. Various factors contributed to this positive result for France, with the country spending the greatest amount on healthcare and having one of the lowest retirement ages of all the countries surveyed. Not only this but the French can expect to live around two years longer than their fellow Brits and France ranks behind only Italy and Spain in terms of hours of sunshine.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com explains that although the UK has the highest wealth, this does not necessarily determine quality of life:
“There is more to good living than money and this report shows why so many Brits are giving up on the UK and heading to France and Spain… For too long the focus in the UK has been on standard of living rather than quality of life. As a result we have lost all sense of balance between wealth and well-being.”
It is clear, therefore why such numbers of Brits visit France on an annual basis (2007 saw France attract 81.9 million tourists, according to the French Government Tourist Office, an increase of 3.8% on the previous year) and it is easy to see why so many decide to make the move to France a permanent one. When deciding to start a business in France, wine-making and owning a vineyard is an obvious and aspirational choice, for not only is the French culture heavily entwined with wine – France produces 550 million cases a year, according to winedefinitions.com – but there is also a great British love affair with wine (Alain Marty, president of the Wine & Business Club and wine commentator recently having credited the British as ‘good at choosing wines carefully, they really know their stuff’).
Owning a French vineyard is a dream for many British, and in reality more and more are realising this ambition as changes in government policy have led to greater numbers of vineyards becoming available for purchase. With property prices in France stable and the country having now officially emerged from recession, buying a vineyard can offer an interesting opportunity to overseas buyers and those looking to relocate.
Kirkor Ajderhanyan, Managing Director and Owner of Agence 107 Promenade, a local agency that sell exclusive property between Cannes and Monaco, recognises the appeal for British buyers,
“Owning and running a vineyard is undoubtedly hard work, but the sense of achievement – as well as potential financial returns – that producing and selling your own wine can give you is second to none. Not only this, but to live in a luxurious property, surrounded by beautiful French countryside extending as far as the eye can see, is a dream-come-true for many. Purchasing a French vineyard is not simply a property and land purchase, it truly is an investment in a way of life.”
From Burgundy to Bordeaux, there are multiple French regions that are tantamount with wine production, but when looking to relocate to France and build a new life as well as a wine business, it is important to consider the area as a whole and whether you could envisage daily life there. One region that has wide appeal is Provence, where not only some of the country’s most famous wines are made, but which also has a great deal to offer those looking at relocating. This region in south-eastern France is famed for its unique micro-climate and stunning sweeping countryside, as well as picturesque towns and villages, scattered throughout the hills. Saint Rémy de Provence is one such village, encircled by the remains of 14th century fortifications, and one of the oldest in France. The location where Van Gogh painted ‘Starry Night’ and Nostradamus was born, Saint Rémy is 20km south of Avignon and 90km from Marseille.
Close by, a 25 hectare vineyard, currently producing 75,000 bottles of wine a year can be purchased, near to Château Neuf du-Pape and very well-known for its white, rosé and red wines. The vineyard’s wine is sold throughout the world and it is actively participating in tasting competitions in which it has been very successful. With a main property built in the 18th century in Provençal style, as well as a swimming pool, the vineyard consists of several buildings, including a wine warehouse and wine cellar, sanitary facilities and agricultural warehouse.