Chateau Lafite Rothschild is one of only four classified first growths and thus the designation as 1st er Cru. The vintage rankings of the Universal Paris Exposition in 1855 officially gave Lafite the rating as "Leader among fine wines." While the first known reference to Lafite dates to 1234 with a certain Gombaud de Lafite, abbot of the Vertheuil Monastery north of Pauillac, Lafite's mention as a medieval fief dates to the 14th century.
The name Lafite comes from the Gascon language term "la hite", which means "hillock". There were probably already vineyards on the property at the time when the Segur family organised the vineyard in the 17th century, and Lafite began to earn its reputation as a great winemaking estate. Jacques de Segur was credited with the planting of the Lafite vineyard in the 1670s and in the early 1680s. The estate achieved wide popularity in the 1750s when it became the favorite wine of King Louis XV. Thomas Jefferson was also a steadfast customer and even visited the estate.
After the 1973-1976 mini-crisis that hit Bordeaux, Baron Eric's management of the estate made strides forward with a search for excellence and the gradual addition of a new technical team. In 1985 Baron Eric began a tradition of inviting fine-arts photographers to photograph Chateau Lafite. Today, his daughter Saskia de Rothschild represents the 6th generation of the family at the head of the winemaking properties.