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Winery Seeks Crowdfunding to Save Traditional Varieties

Venes hopes to raise 475,000 euros
© AFP | Venes hopes to raise 475,000 euros
A French winemaker has a novel way to save part of France's viticultural history.

A Languedoc wine producer hopes to use crowdfunding to revive 10 traditional varieties in the region that have fallen into obscurity.

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Frantz Venes, whose family’s Minervois wine – Domus Maximus – was named the best French red wine by the International Wine Challenge in 2005, aims to plant traditional varieties in the region, including Grand Noir, Calmette and Picpoul Noir on an eight-hectare (19.7-acre) plot.

The vines are housed by the local vine conservatory. “I have tasted and selected them but I don’t know what kind of wines they’re going to give,” admitted Venes.

There have long been opportunities for wine lovers to rent a row of vines or buy a personalized barrel of wine and, for 1425 euros, Venes hopes to attract 100 shareholders to play a part in saving these grapes from obscurity. Dividends will be paid in wine.

Ludovic Aventine was the first to launch a crowdfunded winery in the region in 2011. Today, he runs three wine labels, all launched by shareholders who are paid in wine, allowing wineries to bypass banks. No bank would give them funding, although a banker joined his scheme as a shareholder. The price of a share was 1750 euros and 100 shareholders quickly signed up.

“And when you want to get out, it’s simple: we have waiting lists of friends of friends who want to enter. But, so far, no shareholder has asked to leave," said Aventine.

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