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Elie de Rothschild, 90; led winery in postwar era

August 07, 2007|From Associated Press

VIENNA -- Baron Elie Robert de Rothschild, who helped France's renowned Rothschild winemaking and banking dynasty recover from the ravages of World War II, died Monday while vacationing at his Austrian hunting lodge. He was 90.

Rothschild had been on a hunting trip with friends at his lodge outside Innsbruck when he suffered a fatal heart attack, according to police in the province of Tyrol.

He was the second prominent Rothschild to die this year. In June, family patriarch Baron Guy de Rothschild died in Paris.

The family's prestigious Chateau Lafite-Rothschild winery, for whom Elie de Rothschild began working in 1946 after serving as an Allied soldier during World War II, credits him with at least two of the best and most memorable postwar Bordeaux vintages: 1947 and 1949.

"After the difficult decades following the turn of the century, and the painful period of World War II, Baron Elie de Rothschild was entrusted with the recovery of the estate," the domain says on its website,

"Vintages 1947 and 1949 were rays of hope amid the hard labors of renewal," it says.

Rothschild, the vineyard says, supervised the effort to restore the domain's vineyards and buildings and overhauled the way the holdings were administered.

"He took practical steps, like adding a herd of dairy cows in the 1950s in order to use the prairies below the chateau as organic fertilizer supply," the winery said. It described the baron as "a major shaper of events in the difficult reconstitution of the fine wine market" in postwar Europe.

Rothschild became a prominent taster at wine events in London and went on to help found the Bordeaux Wine Guild in 1950, before passing management responsibilities to nephew Baron Eric de Rothschild in the 1970s.

Born May 29, 1917, Elie de Rothschild was captured during World War II by the Germans near the border with Belgium. He wound up at Luebeck, one of the Nazis' most infamous prisoner of war camps.

There, he was reunited with a brother, Alain, and although they were Jews, they were treated as captured officers and avoided execution.

Rothschild married his childhood sweetheart, Liliane Fould-Springer, who was one of France's leading patrons of the arts when she died in 2003. The couple acquired works by Picasso, Rembrandt and other masters.

Rothschild is survived by a son, Nathaniel, a financier; daughters Elizabeth and Nelly; and five grandchildren.

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