Repair Man

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After Miraval and Brangelina an American in Provence continues his renovation spree

Tom Bove can’t help himself.

The 72-year-old American engineer and businessman–turned–wine producer continues to buy and restore neglected Provence wine estates.

“I love rebuilding things. I like not screwing things up,” Bove says one cloudless harvest day on a vineyard hilltop of his Château La Mascaronne. “I only touch them if I see there’s an underlying beauty to bring out.”

Bove has a rare touch. In 1993, he convinced his family to buy Provence’s historic Château Miraval, where he renovated miles of antique drystone terraces and the majestic 18th-century manor, replanted vineyards, converted to organic farming, and brought back winemaking. In 2012, he sold the 1,000-acre package for $60 million to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

A former Navy officer who has retained an athletic military bearing and a bright, boyish smile despite his years and thinning white hair, Bove isn’t slowing down. He still helps run Rochem, the worldwide wastewater-treatment systems company he founded in 1972, while growing his wine business that he calls a “hobby” and a “sickness.”

But Bove’s main fixation is La Mascaronne, where he lives in a 19th-century farmhouse next to the winery.