The name of this immensely ramified and highly influential family empire is inextricably linked to the European banking and economic history of the last 200 years. In viticulture, 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). Both through the very close relationship, as well as the proximity of two adjacent wineries, there are close ties and a common history for over 200 years. There has always been an open rivalry between the two, long before they were taken over by the Rothschild families (Mouton 1853 and Lafite 1868). The first reason for the conflict was the battle for a property called "Les Carruades", which is right on the border between the wineries. In 1845, a fierce dispute arose between the two winery managers, who then decided in favor of Château Lafite.
The second major reason for conflict was ten years later the famous one carried out in 1855 Bordeaux Classification in which Lafite was classified as Premier Cru and Mouton only as Deuxième Cru. Mouton did not want to accept this "disgrace" right from the start and Lafite tasted the triumph. The third reason occurred in 1953. Elie Robert de Rothschild (1917-2007), the owner of Lafite, initiated the expulsion of Mouton from the "Association of the Five" (the then four Prime Ministers and Mouton) on the grounds that this was not a Premier Cru be. The effort to topple Mouton was backed by Lafite ni.cht, and even fiercely opposed. It is a sting that during the German occupation the two wineries were confiscated by the Vichy government in 1942 and run together as a kind of oenological educational establishment.
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 in 1817 the French bank branch. In 1822 he and his four brothers were granted the hereditary title "Baron" by Emperor Franz I (1768-1835) of Austria. In 1868 he bought the "Château Lafite" and added the surname "Rothschild". He probably never saw his possessions because he died that same year. His three sons Gustave, Edmond and Alphonse left the management to a manager and their children were only the annual balance show. Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) revived viticulture in Palestine in 1882 through a foundation of 60 million gold francs Israel ), but also hardly cared for the property in France.
His great-grandson Elie Robert de Rothschild (1917-2007) was active in the Second World War as an Allied soldier and was on his return leader in the bank. In addition, he converted the former railway company Paris-Lyon-Marseille into a travel group with hotels and restaurants. He took over in 1946 the direction of the Château Lafite-Rothschild and was the first person in the family to actively engage in the winemaking business. He always regarded Château Mouton-Rothschild as a hostile competition and disparagingly called it "this Deuxième Cru" as an allusion to the fact that the classification as Premier Grand Cru was not until 1973.
In 1974, took over in the fifth generation, his nephew Eric de Rothschild (born 1940) the leadership. He completed his studies in engineering at the University of Zurich (ETH) and today heads the family bank in Paris as a full-time employee. He completed several oenology courses for his new job. His Italian wife Béatrice Caracciolo is an internationally sought after photographer and painter. The family fortune is secured with the children James (* 1986), Saskia (* 1987) and Pietro (* 1988). Eric de Rothschild launched a major expansion with the purchase of wineries domestically and abroad. For the most part, these were formerly renowned but neglected companies. With his managing director Christophe Salin, the projects were consistently carried out in the same pattern: the vineyards were replanted, the infrastructure was renovated, the teams exchanged by first-class professionals and strict quality controls introduced.
Today in the empire "Domaines Barons de Rothschild" wineries are managed with a total of over 2,000 hectares of vineyards. Within the large family, however, there are complex ownership ratios with a number of ownership shares. Property in France includes wineries 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 family branch of the Rothschilds with winery ownership, which also counts to the French main line. This is Baron Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild (1926-1997), grandson of the Israeli patron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) and nephew of Elie Robert de Rothschild. He built an economic and banking empire and founded financial institutions in Switzerland and France. In addition to the expansion of Megeve into a winter resort in the French Alps, he financed major tourism projects in Martinique and Guadeloupe, was involved in the founding of the "Club Méditerranée" and held large interests in Shell (oil) and De Beers (diamonds). Like his grandfather, he was a great patron of Israel.
Edmond owned a stake in Château Lafite-Rothschild, but rose in 1973 by buying the wineries Château Clarke. Château Malmaison and Château Peyre-Lebade himself great in the winemaking business. With huge investments he cleared most of the vineyards and with advice from the oenologist Professor Émile Peynaud (1912-2004) and renew the cellar facilities. His son Baron Benjamin de Rothschild (* 1963) inherited most of the assets 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" was started in South Africa between Antonij Rupert (son of a business magnate) and the baron. The wines are named after the parents "Baron Edmond" and "Baroness Nadine".
Already nine years before his brother James (James) Nathan Mayer de Rothschild (1777-1836) had also founded on behalf of his father in 1808 in London, the still existing English bank branch of the Rothschilds. His son Nathaniel de Rothschild (1812-1870) was born in London as the fourth child. He 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 in 1855 by a tragic hunting accident and later completely blinded.
His son Baron Nathan de Rothschild (1844-1884) was a French citizen and worked as a lawyer. This began to build today's Château of Château Mouton-Rothschild, which was then completed by his widow Thérèse. But Baronne Thérèse visited her winery only sporadically and left the management mostly to her closest associates. 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 ownership. He handed it over in 1922 to his then 20-year-old son Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902-1988). This began in the episode at this time almost hopeless fight for the classification as "Premier Cru Classé", which finally succeeded in 1973. As a Doctor of Mathematics and Physics was a versatile person without connection to the family bank. He drove car racing and even won the Grand Prix of Bourgogne, founded the Pigalle Theater in Paris, wrote plays himself, worked as a film producer and translated English poems into French. He also founded the long tradition of artist labels. Since the year 1945, the red wines carry 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 his second wife, American fashion designer Pauline Fairfax-Potter, and the marriage remained childless. He built the Château Mouton-Rothschild to a tourist attraction of the first order and built a wine museum with his wife. And he not only led to the world famous Château Mouton-Rothschild because of the finally achieved Rangerhöhung his vineyard. Together with Robert Mondavi (1913-2008) was founded in 1979, the California winery and the wine brand Opus One, Baron Philippe de Rothschild celebrated with the as Wine of the century graded vintage 1982 its 60th grape harvest. His last and 65th harvest he experienced with the year 1987, a few months later he died in January 1988.
His daughter Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933-2014) took over the succession. She was married in the first marriage with the theater director and actor Jacques Sereys (* 1928), with whom she had the two children Camille and Philippe. The third child Julien comes from the marriage with the writer Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais (* 1944). Before she entered the wine business in the 1970s, she was a well-known theatrical and film actress under the stage name Philippine Pascale. She commemorated her father's dedication on the etiquette of the 1987 vintage, designed by Swiss artist Hans Erni: "A mon père, le Baron Philippe de Rothschild, rénovateur de mouton, je dédie ce millésime de sa 65ème et dernière vendange - Mouton ne change " (To my father, Mr. Baron Philippe de Rothschild, renewer of the Mouton, I dedicate this year to his 65th and last grape harvest - Mouton does not change). Her successor as Chairman of the Supervisory Board has taken Philippe Sereys de Rothschild (* 1963). 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 estate includes the wineries Château Clerc Milon. Château d'Armailhac and Château La Fleur-Milon (all Pauillac, Haut-Médoc), as well as the Domaine de Baron'Arques (Languedoc), bought only in 2002. Abroad there are the joint ventures Opus One (Napa Valley, California) and Concha y Toro in Chile with the red wine Almaviva, In the company "La Baronnie" several brand 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 and corkscrews.
In 1994, the English financier Baron Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild (b. 1936) opened a wine museum and a sales cellar for all Rothschild wines in his magnificent Waddesdon Manor, which was inherited in 1988 near London. He is thus the first in the family to perform a "connecting" function of the Rothschild's. The castle also houses one of the largest art collections in the world. It was extensively restored until 1998 and has now been transferred to the state in a voluntary foundation.
Today, the relationship between the Rothschild empires Lafite and Mouton has normalized. Although there is still competition between the houses, which is much less aggressive than before. The two companies also pursue a somewhat different philosophy. The "Baron de Philippe de Rothschild SA" (Mouton) stands for a very personally managed family business. The "Domaines Barons de Rothschild SA" (Lafite) acts discreetly in the background and has little public presence. The red wines of the two main wineries are like the ground taste very different. You either clearly prefer one or the other, the taste polarizes, so to speak. Lafite is usually referred to as elegant and even brittle wine. Mouton, on the other hand, is considered to be opulent to eccentric wine with pronounced fruitiness.