10 generations...

A three-hundred-year-old family heritage

  • Thomas Barton
    the founder of the dynasty

    1722

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  • Hugh Barton
    the lord of wine

    1821

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  • Langoa Barton
    Third Classified Growth 

    1855

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  • Ronald Barton
    wine expert

    1924

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  • Anthony Barton
    the gentleman of the Médoc

    1983

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  • Lilian Barton Sartorius
    the 9th generation

    2010

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  • Thomas Barton
    the founder of the dynasty

    At the age of 27, Thomas Barton left his native Ireland and the town of Curraghmore, County Fermanagh, in which he had grown up.

    He was educated by his uncles on his mother's side, Thomas and William Dickson, who were important figures in the merchant business and had already developed strong trade relationships with France. He was therefore sent to live in France in 1722, first in Montpellier and then in Marseille. A career as a wine merchant was not an obvious choice for him, yet when he arrived in Bordeaux in 1725, one of the major ports on the Atlantic coast, he developed an interest in wine and decided to create his first wine merchant company. He also began to build his own family, or rather dynasty, a dynasty which remains the longest-standing family legacy of all the 1855 Grands Crus Classés.

    His company soon began to flourish thanks to his trade contacts and loyal customers in Ireland. He was a man of strong character and an irritable yet very honest businessman. By 1737 he had already made a small fortune and was highly regarded by the Bordeaux locals who nicknamed him ''French Tom''. In 1743 he asked his only son, William, to join him in his business although William was perhaps not of the same stature and the two failed to see eye to eye.

    At this time, a law known as the ''Droit d'Aubaine'' (a type of Windfall Law) stated that all assets belonging to a foreigner who passed away in France would become the property of the French Crown. It is for this reason that he never purchased vineyards in France, instead choosing to invest his profits in Ireland. His grandson, Hugh, was the first member of the family to own vineyards in Bordeaux. Thomas passed away in 1780 at the age of 85.

  • Hugh Barton
    the lord of wine

    Following the death of Thomas Barton in 1780, the family's assets in Bordeaux and Ireland were inherited by his only son William, a man whose acrimonious character caused numerous disagreements both inside and outside of the family circle. William fathered nine children : six boys and three girls.

    His elder sons went on to inherit the various estates in Ireland whilst Hugh, his fourth son, inherited the wine businesses in Bordeaux. The wine trade had been through a difficult period and the constant disputes between William, his father and the rest of the family did nothing to improve the situation. However, when Hugh began his career as a wine merchant in 1786 at the age of 20, the turnover of the family business was estimated at 2.5 million pounds sterling. Thanks to Hugh's energy and efficiency, the wine merchant company continued to flourish right up until the middle of the French Revolution in 1793. By this time Hugh had married Anna Johnston, the daughter of another Anglo-Irish family in Bordeaux. On the 14th October 1793 Hugh and Anna were arrested and incarcerated along with other British nationals living in Bordeaux.

    Their assets were seized and their future looked uncertain. William had fallen ill and was authorised to remain at his home under surveillance. He sadly passed away on the 23rd October before Hugh was able to say his goodbyes. Hugh and Anna were unexpectedly freed on the 21st December 1793. They decided to leave Bordeaux and move back to England and Ireland although Hugh maintained close relations with Bordeaux. The company did so well that he was able to purchase Château Langoa in 1821 and a plot from the Léoville domaine in 1826, which he subsequently renamed Léoville Barton. He then purchased land in Kildare County, Ireland in 1835 upon which he built Straffan House (now the ''K Club''), which would serve as the family home for the following generations and in which Anthony Barton, the current owner of the vineyards in Bordeaux, was born in 1930.

  • Langoa Barton
    Third Classified Growth 

    The 1855 classification was initially established at the request of Emperor Napoleon III with the aim of presenting the wines of the Gironde at the Universal Exhibition of Paris. The responsibility of writing the classification was given by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce to the Association of Trade Merchants of the Bordeaux Stock Exchange. Its mission was to devise an official classification based on many years of experience and according to the quality of the Terroir and the reputation of each Château. The Classification was published on the 18th April 1855 and represented the realities of the market and its evolution over more than a century.

  • Ronald Barton
    wine expert

    After Hugh Barton, three generations followed at the head of the family's two Bordeaux properties although they spent the majority of their lives in Ireland rather than France. Ronald was the first Barton to take over the family's activities in Bordeaux. He was born in London in 1902.

    After completing his studies at Eton and Oxford, he arrived in Bordeaux in 1924 and soon displayed a keen interest in the Bordeaux wine merchant company as well as in the Langoa and Léoville wine domaines situated in Saint Julien (Médoc - Bordeaux). His father, Bertram Hugh, had bought out his brother's and two cousins' shares in the company and he therefore found himself in a position to pass down all of the Saint Julien vineyards to Ronald.

    In June 1940 he left France and joined the ''Royal Inniskilling's fusiliers'' where he became liaison officer with the Free French Forces, first In England, then the Middle East and later in the Syrian campaign.

    He returned to France in 1945 and found his vineyards in a very poor state. Thanks to his courageous and optimistic nature, he succeeded in gradually restoring them to their former glory. His efforts were rewarded by a series of renowned vintages in 1948, 1949, 1953, 1955 and 1959, to name but a few. He kept a paternal eye on their destiny up until his death in 1986, having passed them on to his nephew Anthony in 1983. Ronald did not have children of his own yet wanted to hand the reins over to a member of his family in the aim of preserving the family domaine that he himself had inherited from his ancestors. When Anthony Barton, the current owner, wrote to him in order to express his gratitude, Ronald's response was that ''It is not me you should thank, but Hugh. I have simply acted as a guardian to his vineyards and have always considered it my duty to pass them on to my heir in the best condition possible.'' And that is exactly what he did !

  • Anthony Barton
    the gentleman of the Médoc

    Anthony Barton was born in 1930 in Straffan House in Kildare County, Ireland. He stood in line to inherit very little, or even nothing, of the family's estates. His elder brother Christopher was the heir to Straffan (now the ''K Club'') whilst the Bordeaux domaines belonged to his uncle Ronald who was expected to marry and have his own children who would subsequently inherit his estates. However Ronald was quite old by the time he married and did not have children, thus it was Anthony who became the worthy heir.

    After completing his studies in Ireland and then in England, Anthony moved to Bordeaux in 1951. This was another complicated period for the wine trade as the war had made exportation to traditional markets impossible for several years and what little demand remained was priced so low that it resulted in losses for Langoa and Léoville Barton. Anthony's first harvest in 1951 was so catastrophic that his uncle Ronald told him, ''Another harvest like this and I will have to sell''. This was not a very reassuring start for him. Fortunately the next two years were much higher in quality although the prices remained below the profitability threshold.

    The Barton & Guestier merchant company was ticking over although not with excellent results. In 1954, Seagram acquired a 50% share in the company before becoming majority shareholder a few years later. Anthony continued to work as Export Director up until 1967 when he created his own merchant company named ''Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton''. Although he remained attentive to the future of the wine domaines, his new company prevented him from playing an active role in their development up until 1983. Since 1986, Anthony has lived in the Médoc château with his wife Eva, originally from Copenhagen.

  • Lilian Barton Sartorius
    the 9th generation

    After carrying out her studies in England, Lilian began her career working in a bank in Bordeaux before moving to Hong-Kong for 2 years to work for the shipping company ''Les Chargeurs Réunis''. In 1978, at the age of 22, Lilian joined her father at his merchant company and obtained the DUAD wine tasting diploma at the University of Bordeaux.

    For over 30 years they have divided their responsibilities between the Saint Julien vineyards and the merchant business 'Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton', where they were joined by Lilian's husband, Michel Sartorius. Lilian Barton has now taken over from her father in running the wine properties and family merchant company. She has since been joined by her two children, Mélanie and Damien.

    Mélanie Barton Sartorius, the family's 1st Oenologist, took on the role of Technical Director in 2013 at Chateau Mauvesin Barton in Moulis (Médoc), a domaine that was purchased by the family in 2011.
    Damien Barton Sartorius graduated in International Commerce and Business in 2016 and now divides his time between the family's properties and other wine related projects.

Creation Vinium
D
Dynasty
C
Château
S
Savoir-faire
W
Wine
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