Buying a vineyard? Consider the cost of staffing it first

The average cost for a worker in the South of France is around $29K annually

A Bordeaux vineyard
A Bordeaux vineyard

It may be the ambition of many well-heeled wine connoisseurs to pack their bags and snap up an old château replete with a vineyard in the South of France. But actually doing so comes with a host of unexpected complications, the Wall Street Journal reported.

One such complication is becoming an employer of the vineyard’s staff, which can be a significant financial burden and a management challenge.

“They are enormously invested personally in the property because it’s their residence,” said Eloi Jacob, the director and technical manager of a vineyard estate in Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion grand cru appellation.

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A vineyard owner typically pays one worker for every 25 acres of vines, Rory Ramsden, a Bergerac-based real estate broker told the Journal. The average cost for a worker is around $29,000 annually, he said.

Managing a vineyard’s staff can also be a diplomacy nightmare. Bertrand Couturier, associate director of Barnes International Realty, said it’s important for new owners of a vineyard to make nice with the vineyard’s chief of staff, called a régisseur, who is the person most familiar with the workings of the vineyard and can act as a go-between for staff and the new owner. [WSJ]Katherine Clarke