Jura Cult Winery Suspected of Laundering Money

The French judiciary has seized the assets of Domaine Ganevat as it investigates money laundering allegations.

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The assets of the interim owners have been frozen. Are they still financing Domaine Ganevat? (Photo: darval/stock.adobe.com)
The assets of the interim owners have been frozen. Are they still financing Domaine Ganevat? (Photo: darval/stock.adobe.com)

In June 2023, the French judiciary seized the assets of the top Jura winery Domaine Ganevat, as reported by Wine Searcher, citing French media. The seizure is due to investigations into money laundering involving Alexander Pumpyanski, the son of a Russian oligarch, who purchased the winery from Jean-François Ganevat in September 2021.

Domaine Ganevat produces the cult wine “Les Vignes de Mon Père,” which currently has an average price of $968 per bottle listed on Wine Searcher. This wine is a Savagnin – biodynamically grown and without added sulphites – similar to a Vin Jaune, aged over 10 years in the barrel, but without oxidation, in fully topped-up 600-liter barrels. It is considered one of the most prestigious terroir wines from the Jura.

Was the sale a ruse to bypass sanctions?

About half a year after Pumpyanski acquired the winery, Russia invaded Ukraine. The Pumpyanski family's assets were frozen – a recent request by the oligarch Dmitry Pumpyanski to remove him and his family from the EU sanctions list was denied – and the winery changed hands again. The new owner is Benoît Pontenier, until then the manager of the Languedoc winery Prieuré St-Jean de Bébian, which also belonged to the Pumpyanskis and was acquired by Pontenier in the same transaction. A smaller share was also purchased by Jocelyn Brancard, who had been employed as an oenologist at Domaine Gavenat since 2021.

Doubts quickly arose about how Pontenier and Brancard could have raised the approximate $16m purchase price for the two wineries. Journalists from La Revue du Vin de France revealed that large sums of money had been transferred to companies managed by Pontenier – likely via a Cypriot investment company originally owned by the Pumpyanski family. Because of suspicions that the wineries continued to be covertly financed by the oligarch family, they are now connected with the investigations into money laundering against Alexander Pumpyanski.

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Production continues

However, work at the two affected wineries is expected to continue normally until the conclusion of the investigations. Jean-François Ganevat, who has continued to act as the manager of Domaine after the sale, stated to local media that he was not involved in financial matters and was fully focused on the current vintage. VM



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