The name of the extremely ramified and very influential family empire is inextricably linked to the European banking and economic history of the past 200 years. In viniculture, the Rothschilds are also owned by two of the most famous châteaux in the French area Médoc a term. These are the two wineries classified as "Premier Cru Classé" Château Lafite-Rothschild (French branch) and Château Mouton-Rothschild (English branch). Due to the sometimes very close relationship, as well as the proximity of the two wineries next to each other, there have been close ties and a common history for over 200 years. There was always an open rivalry between the two, long before the Rothschild families took over (Mouton 1853 and Lafite 1868). A first reason for conflict was the fight for a property called "Les Carruades", which is located exactly on the border between the wineries. A violent dispute broke out between the two winery managers over the property in 1845, which was then decided in favor of Château Lafite.
The second major cause of conflict was the famous one carried out in 1855 ten years later Bordeaux Classification, where Lafite was classified as Premier Cru and Mouton only as Deuxième Cru. Mouton did not want to accept this “shame” from the beginning and Lafite savored the triumph. The third reason occurred in 1953. Elie Robert de Rothschild (1917-2007), as the owner of Lafite, initiated the exclusion of Mouton from the "Association of Five" (the then four premiers and Mouton) on the grounds that this was not a Premier Cru be. The effort to elevate Mouton to first place was not supported by Lafite, but even fought vigorously. It is a stunt that during the German occupation the two wineries were confiscated by the Vichy government in 1942 and managed jointly.
On behalf of his father Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) Jakob Mayer Rothschild (1792-1868) settled in Paris in 1812, where he changed his first name to James. Here he founded the French bank branch in 1817. In 1822, Emperor Franz I (1768-1835) of Austria awarded him and his four brothers the hereditary title "Baron". In 1868 he bought the "Château Lafite" and added the family name "Rothschild". But he probably never saw his property since he died in the same year. His three sons, Gustave, Edmond and Alphonse, left the management to a managing director and their children, too, were only able to see the balance sheet every year. Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) enlivened winegrowing in Palestine (today's) through a foundation of 60 million gold francs in 1882 Israel ), but also hardly cared about ownership in France.
His great-grandson Elie Robert de Rothschild (1917-2007) was active as an Allied soldier in the Second World War and was a leader in the bank after his return. In addition, he converted the former Paris-Lyon-Marseille railway company into a travel group with hotels and restaurants. He took over the management of the Château Lafite-Rothschild and was the first in the family to get actively involved in the wine business. He always viewed Château Mouton-Rothschild as an enemy competitor and dismissively called it "this Deuxième Cru" as an allusion to the fact that the classification as a Premier Grand Cru was only made in 1973.
In 1974, the fifth generation was taken over by his nephew Eric de Rothschild (* 1940). He had completed an engineering degree at the University of Zurich (ETH) and now heads the family bank in Paris full-time. He completed several oenology courses for his new job. His Italian wife Béatrice Caracciolo is an internationally sought-after photographer and painter. The continued existence of the family is ensured with the children James (* 1986), Saskia (* 1987) and Pietro (* 1988). Eric de Rothschild started an extensive expansion with the purchase of wineries domestically and abroad. Most of these were previously renowned but neglected companies. With his managing director Christophe Salin, the projects were carried out consistently according to the same pattern: the vineyards were replanted, the infrastructure renovated, the teams exchanged by first-class professionals and strict quality controls introduced.
Today, vineyards with a total of over 2,000 hectares of vineyards are managed in the "Domaines Barons de Rothschild" empire. However, within the large family there are complicated ownership ratios with a number of ownership shares. The wineries belong to property in France Château d'Aussières (Corbières) Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild (Pauillac) Château L'Évangile (Pomerol), Château Paradis Casseuil (Entre-deux-Mers) and Château Rieussec (Sauternes). The foreign joint ventures are Bodegas Caro (Argentina), Los Vascos (Chile, Quinta do Carmo (Portugal) and since 2002 Rocca di Frassinello (Maremma Tuscany).
There is another Rothschild family branch that owns a winery and is also part of the French main line. This is Baron Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild (1926-1997), the grandson of Israel sponsor Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) and nephew of Elie Robert de Rothschild. He built up an economic and banking empire and founded financial institutions in Switzerland and France. In addition to expanding Megeve into a winter sports resort in the French Alps, he financed major tourism projects in Martinique and Guadeloupe, was involved in the establishment of the "Club Méditerranée" and held large stakes in Shell (oil) and De Beers (diamonds). Like his grandfather, he was a great sponsor of Israel.
Edmond owned a stake in Château Lafite-Rothschild, but rose in 1973 by buying the wineries Chateau Clarke. Chateau Malmaison and Château Peyre-Lebade even big in the wine business. With huge investments, he cleared most of the vineyards and with advice from the oenologist Professor Émile Peynaud (1912-2004) restock and renew the cellar facilities. His son Baron Benjamin de Rothschild (* 1963) inherited most of the property and further expanded the position of the banks. The balance sheet magazine estimated its assets at 2 to 3 billion Swiss Francs. In the wine-growing district Paarl in 1997 the joint venture "Rupert & Rothschild" between Antonij Rupert (son of a business magnate) and the baron was started in South Africa. The wines are named after the parents "Baron Edmond" and "Baroness Nadine".
Even nine years before his brother Jakob (James), Nathan Mayer de Rothschild (1777-1836) had also founded the English bank branch of the Rothschilds in London on behalf of his father in 1808. His son Nathaniel de Rothschild (1812-1870) was born the fourth child in London. This married his cousin Charlotte de Rothschild (1825-1899) in 1842 and moved to Paris in 1850, where he worked for the bank of his uncle and father-in-law James de Rothschild (1792-1868) (this was the first owner of Château Lafite mentioned above -Rothschild). In 1853 he acquired the "Château Brane-Mouton" and named it in Château Mouton-Rothschild around. Nathaniel de Rothschild was crippled by a tragic hunting accident in 1855 and later went completely blind.
His son Baron Nathan de Rothschild (1844-1884) became a French citizen and worked as a lawyer. He started to build today's Château Mouton-Rothschild, which was then completed by his widow Thérèse. hte Baronne Thérèse visited her winery only sporadically and mostly left the management to her closest employees. After her death, her son Baron Henri de Rothschild (1872-1946) inherited the estate in 1920. The successful doctor and writer was not particularly interested in the property. He handed it over in 1922 to his then 20-year-old son Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902-1988).
This then began the almost hopeless battle for classification as a "Premier Cru Classé", which he finally succeeded in 1973. As a doctorate in mathematics and physics, he was a versatile person with no connection to the family bank. He drove car races and even won the Bourgogne Grand Prix, founded the Pigalle Theater in Paris, wrote plays himself, worked as a film producer and translated English poems into French. He also established the longstanding tradition of artist labels. Since the 1945 vintage, the red wines have been carrying small works of art by contemporary artists.
His first wife Lilli Pelletier de Chambre (1902-1945) was the only family member who died in a concentration camp. The daughter Philippine miraculously survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp as a small child. In 1954, the baron married American fashion designer Pauline Fairfax-Potter in a second marriage, this marriage remained childless. He turned Château Mouton-Rothschild into a first-class tourist attraction and set up a wine museum with his wife. And it was not only because of the final increase in the rankings of his winery that he made Château Mouton-Rothschild world famous. Together with Robert Mondavi (1913-2008) the California winery or wine brand was created in 1979 Opus One, Baron Philippe de Rothschild celebrated with the as Wine of the century classified vintage 1982 his 60th wine harvest. His last and 65th harvest was born in 1987, a few months later he died in January 1988.
His daughter Baronesse Philippine de Rothschild (1933-2014) took over. In her first marriage she was married to the theater director and actor Jacques Sereys (* 1928), with whom she had two children, Camille and Philippe. The third child Julien comes from a marriage to the writer Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais (* 1944). Before entering the wine business in the 1970s, she was a well-known theater and film actress under the stage name Philippine Pascale. She commemorated her father on the label created in 1987 by the Swiss artist Hans Erni with the dedication: "A mon père, le Baron Philippe de Rothschild, rénovateur de Mouton, je dédie ce millésime de sa 65ème et dernière vendange - Mouton ne change “ (I dedicate this vintage to his 65th and last wine harvest - Mouton does not change to my father, Mr. Baron Philippe von Rothschild, innovator of the Mouton). Philippe Sereys de Rothschild (* 1963) succeeded her as chairman of the supervisory board. The siblings Camille Sereys de Rothschild (* 1961) and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild (* 1971) are co-owners and represented on the Supervisory Board.
Since 1990 the company has been operating under "Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA". The wineries belong to the property Château Clerc Milon. Château d'Armailhac and Château La Fleur-Milon (all Pauillac, Haut-Médoc), as well as the Domaine de Baron'Arques (Languedoc), which was only bought in 2002. There are joint ventures abroad Opus One (Napa Valley, California) and Concha y Toro in Chile with the red wine Almaviva, In the "La Baronnie" company, several branded wine lines are produced, including the extremely successful and exported worldwide Mouton Cadet, There is hardly a wine company worldwide with such extensive merchandising. In addition to the wines, you can also buy t-shirts, posters, ties, calendars, glasses corkscrew to buy.
In 1994, the English financier Baron Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild (* 1936) opened a wine museum and a sales cellar for all Rothschild wines in his splendid castle, Waddesdon Manor near London, which was inherited in 1988. He is the first in the family to perform a "connecting" function for the Rothschilds. The castle also houses one of the most extensive art collections in the world. It was extensively restored until 1998 and has since been transferred to the state in a voluntary foundation.
Today, the relationship between the Rothschild empires Lafite and Mouton has normalized. There is still competition between the houses, but it is far less aggressive than before. The two companies also have a slightly different philosophy. The "Baron de Philippe de Rothschild SA" (Mouton) stands for a very personally run family business. The "Domaines Barons de Rothschild SA" (Lafite) acts rather discreetly in the background and has little public presence. The red wines of the two main wineries also taste very different from the soil. You either clearly like one or the other, the taste polarizes so to speak. Lafite is mostly considered elegant and even called brittle wine. Mouton, however, is considered an opulent to eccentric wine with a pronounced fruitiness,