Why Ganevat Sold His Estate
Jura vigneron Jean-François Ganevat broke his silence yesterday on the September sale of his estate. Here's an English translation of the original French statement.
In mid-October, Rotalier vigneron Jean-François Ganevat confirmed what had long been rumored in Jura wine circles (and natural wine circles at large) : on September 1st, 2021, he sold his estate to Geneva-based Russian investor Alexander Pumpyanskiy, the son of Russian steel magnate Dmitri Pumpyansky.
On November 3rd, Ganevat released an official statement on the matter, via the Instagram account of his sister Anne Ganevat (among, presumably, other channels).
It seemed a shame to limit the statement to Francophones-who-follow-Anne-on-Instagram. So what follows is my English translation of the Ganevats’ statement regarding the sale of the estate.
Suppositions on the subject of the sale of the estate have sprouted on the internet, via social networks and others, for several weeks.
Anne and myself are little attached to what’s said of us, but certain concerns voiced by lovely people encountered in the past at salons, at the estate, or elsewhere - always in the presence of good wine - haven’t left us entirely indifferent. It’s particularly for these close friends, these visiting friends, and these enthusiasts, always respectful of of our work, that I wish to present, in the name of Anne and myself, our project.
I’m fifty-two years old, I’m at a period in my life when I wish to pass things on. I’m not old, but the metier of a peasant vigneron weighs upon a human. If something were to happen to me tomorrow, to sell the vineyards wouldn’t be a problem, but to find people capable of continuing the work we’ve done, for the négociant business as well as at the estate, would be one. A good succession is prepared well in advance. Through this project of succession, I’m also very vigilant to not disturb the wine market in the Jura.
For several years, I’ve often been approached to cede the estate, but I’ve never been convinced by the projects that were proposed to us. But yes, in September 2021, we sold our estate to Alexander Pumpiansky. I’ve heard it said here and there that he’s of Russian origin, sometimes as if it were a reproach ! It’s true that he’s Russian, but insofar as it concerns me, that’s not how I define a human being. He lives near us and above all his human virtues, his knowledge of wine, and knowledge of vignerons convinced me. He became a friend thanks to his simplicity, his passion, and his humility.
Since 2008, Alexander is the owner of Domaine Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian in the Languedoc, where he enacted a titanic work in the vines and in the cellar. He knows the business, he worked to convert the estate to organics and biodynamics, and this, believe me, is not nothing.
What also appealed to me in Alexander is the project for the estate: he first asked me to above all not change anything, then together we put ourselves to planning it. We’re going to refurbish the buildings of the estate to offer better-adapted spaces. We’re going to concentrate ourselves on the improvement of our vinification methods through the pursuit of long aging periods and the integration of a supplementary patina. This is something that has danced in my head for a long time.
Through this project, the goal for me is to pursue this beautiful adventure. My attachments are here, in the vines. I will continue to be there everyday for the estate and the négociant business as they exist today. There are numerous micro-parcels and tiny cuvées, it’s indispensable that I transmit my savoir-faire: this will take several years. Concerning the life of the estate, the employees stay, as do my sister Anne and her daughter Clémence.
Dear friends, in practice nothing will change, the passion is intact. But at fifty-two years of age, it’s the occasion for me to concentrate on what I love to do: vinify! To free my spirit and, who knows, open myself up to other opportunities, such as that of vinifying in other regions. The project is above all for me the most beautiful way to assure the succession of our family’s work to someone in whom I have full confidence.
Was this translation helpful ? There’s more where that came from - along with exclusive interviews, reports, and profiles - for Not Drinking Poison subscribers.
Andrew Jefford had glowing things to say about the Pumpyanskiy family in this 2015 piece for Decanter.
Jean-Emmanuel Simond’s October 2021 interview with Jean-François Ganevat in La Revue du Vin de France contains more information on the sale.
While there are obviously now more pressing concerns for the Pumpyansky family- what will, I wonder, become of their second super yacht “My Bro”? Even the most cursory of scans of TMK’s Wikipedia entry will tell you that the company does business with a who’s who of repressive regimes (Kazakhstan! Uzbekistan! China!) across the world. The mental gymnastics to get through this piece without drawing attention to the fact that some portion of the funds used to buy Domaine Ganevat were, in some part large or small, raised from regimes who lock up journalists (and place entire ethnic groups in concentration camps of course) are positively Olympian.
Somehow worse still is the fact that a golden opportunity to confront a man who is one of the planet’s leading greenwashers (“Never mind those polluted rivers you must taste our biodynamically-farmed vin jaune!”) is passed up without a mention of the catastrophic effects of his family’s reliance on iron ore extraction to keep them in boutique Jura domaines - quite stunning.
He even parrots Putin and Lavrov with almost depressing accuracy by saying that Russians and Ukrainians are “at the base the same people” without even the merest of nudges from you to remind him that at the time of this interview one half of those “same people” were currently trying to wipe a good portion of the other half off the face of the earth.
I do understand that your audience comes to your newsletter to satisfy their curiosity for a relatively narrow set of interests and no one expects you to suddenly morph into a mondeuse-fueled Paxman; but for a man I once witnessed berate a woman on Twitter for posing for a photo in front of a conventionally farmed vineyard, when confronted with the people whose avarice is actively destroying the planet (not to mention the fact that this man’s father unquestionably has played his part in propping up a regime that is currently murdering children across Ukraine) you suddenly come over awfully supine. Wouldn’t want to lose that allocation though, hey?