Baron Eric de Rothschild
Eric de Rothschild loved visiting his family's Bordeaux estate with friends when he was in his twenties. They had fun and they drank a lot of wine—not bad, when the winery is first-growth Château Lafite Rothschild.
Now 76, Rothschild, kind, funny and charming, is still enjoying life. But he has also met life's challenges head-on, including assuming management of Lafite in 1974 amid a difficult era for Bordeaux. In 1982, he and his cousin David were running the Rothschild's Paris bank when socialist president François Mitterrand nationalized it, forcing them to start over in finance. They succeeded and put more energy into their wine interests. Rothschild hired winemaker Charles Chevalier, who recently retired after 30 vintages, and Émile Peynaud as consultant. They replanted vineyards and built a new winery and showpiece barrel cellar.
With quality improved at Lafite, he expanded his company Domaine Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), buying estates in Pomerol and Sauternes and looking abroad to California, Chile and Portugal. His hard work has made Lafite arguably the most prestigious of the first-growths and turned his company into a true global wine entity. Eric de Rothschild earned Wine Spectator's Distinguished Service Award in 1993.
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