Men who dream of wine - your own winery in Tuscany
Wineries in Tuscany including Management Service as an alternative lifestyle investment
By: Viva Business GmbH & Co.KG
To be enjoyed, but not talked about. After making the right decisions on the stock market or in business, some want to invest the profits into a decent venture. And why not enjoy it too? Maybe a winery? To uncork your own vintage every year, to invite friends into the old halls for a party in the countryside, to sit on the terrace in the evening sun and pour from the next bottle. It’s an idea that tempts many: celebrities like pop star Cliff Richard, conductor Justus Frantz, the Hollywood couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and the Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola, who have all bought estates here where good grapes grow and there is room and time to rest.
And so a world-famous wine region in Italy has become a place to dream of: Tuscany. Here, for example, the pop stars Sting, Gianna Nannini, and singer Al Bano – who became famous with Romina Powers – produce wines from their own vineyards. So does Wolfgang Reitzle, former CEO of Linde AG and husband of the German television presenter Nina Ruge.
Not a lot of people know this: quite a few wineries in Tuscany are for sale at the moment. Bettina Kurz and Frank Höfinger know exactly which ones. The two worked for 20 years as entrepreneurs in Germany and for the past six years have lived in San Gimignano, one of the most beautiful spots in Tuscany with an ancient tradition of growing white wine. At first they leased an estate with 10 hectares of vineyards and produced their wine, which met with much acclaim internationally. For several years now their company “Viva Business”(www.viva-
They do not see themselves as brokers, though. They advise their clients on the technical side of vine-growing and work for them on request as interim managers following the sale.
Grapes may grow by themselves, but the vines did not grow out of the ground all on their own. The dream of having one’s very own fine wine can come true only with professional work, the right decisions, in-depth evaluations, and good business sense.
Their investors, on the other hand, know wine mostly from opening the bottles brought up from their cellars or picking them from the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants. Who exactly these investors are is known only to Kurz and Höfinger, who keep the details private.
“We never name names – neither of our clients nor of the wineries that we put them in touch with”, Bettina Kurz makes clear
The other side insists on secrecy too. “The owner families want the sales to be handled discretely. They have a reputation to lose.” Most of the deals involve a lot of money.
Still, the pair do give away a little: their clients have included wealthy Germans and Swiss, but primarily wealth people from Hong Kong, the United States, China, and eastern Europe.
Kurz and Höfinger have slowly and patiently earned the trust of the landowners. They know what they’re talking about – and they can talk about it in perfect Italian. “The Germans are here considered particularly upright, and this image has helped us very much,” says Frank Höfinger with a laugh.
In the meantime, Kurz and Höfinger are managing some vineyards for their clients and working together with distinguished Tuscan wine experts, oenologists, agronomists and lawyers – in the end, every client wants to press good wine out of the grapes. “
The biggest mistake potential buyers make is not to solicit the advice of locally rooted experts before making the purchase. They usually do the search and carry out the negotiations by themselves, and often either the deal falls through or they end up paying grossly inflated prices. “The prices of the vineyards, you see, depend not only on the property of the estate and on the estate itself, but in Tuscany, they really depend on the price the wine fetches”, Frank Höfinger emphasizes.
“Vintners who get 50 euros a bottle can demand a higher price than a family that may get only 5 euros. Estates in renowned regions are therefore much more expensive than they are in no-name areas. The prices also fluctuate wildly. So our job is first to find a realistic value, then to negotiate – and finally to organize the day-to-day operation. Our clients have no idea of all this and most of them are too busy to learn it.”
And they can be choosy, and bring lists of demands that can be rather lengthy. It can take a year, sometimes two, until the pair have found a suitable estate for a client. At some point, though, the dream finally comes true. Papers signed and sealed, the new owner stops by now and then with friends, stays a few days, looks around, and soon runs off again. It’s truly lovely here, after all.