A portion of Castello di Borghese in Cutchogue, Long Island’s first and oldest vineyard, has been sold in a deal that allows for business as usual as the North Fork vineyard approaches its 50th anniversary next year.
“It’s a new lease on life for the founding Long Island vineyard,” says Joseph DiVello of Century 21 Albertson Realty, who represented both sides of the transaction, which closed Friday.
The sale includes 66 acres of the south side of the vineyard but allows Giovanni Borghese, who has been running the vineyard since his parents died in 2014, to maintain ownership of the tasting room and business and continue to operate the vines in their entirety, in addition to the farmstead residence and cellar.
The 66-acre farmstead, including the 3,000-square-foot farmhouse with its vineyard views and the original vines — rows of pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc and merlot — was listed for sale in January 2021 for $3.69 million.
While the closing price was not immediately disclosed, DiVello says it was “a strong offer” that allows “a perfect partnership”
The tasting room on County Road 48, on the north side of the property, sited on another 18 acres was not included in the original listing brought to the market, though Borghese eventually listed the whole farm for sale.
“The last 18 months have been quite the whirlwind,” Borghese wrote in a message to the vineyard’s supporters on Instagram. “From buying the partners out, to listing half of the farm for sale to then reluctantly listing the whole farm for sale, we have seen and felt the full spectrum of events and their energy regarding what the next steps could be.”
“I am pleased to share with you today that the original goal I set out to achieve has been accomplished,” he wrote on Friday in announcing that he sold the land south of the railroad tracks and will lease back those vines and the barns while retaining 100% ownership of the business and keeping the land north of the tracks, including the tasting room and vines there.
“Borghese will continue indefinitely and is a much stronger business now having paid off my parents’ old mortgage as well as the debt that was raised from buying everyone out over the years,” he continued. “This is a big step and it allows us to grow our focus on viticulture, winemaking and the customer experience while continuing our top priority of creating a warm and loving atmosphere in which you can enjoy some of the best wine the North Fork has to offer.”
Lastly, he added, “The timing couldn’t be more serendipitous given that in 2023 we will celebrate 50 years of Long Island wine, which started right here, followed by 2024, where we celebrate 25 years of Borghese Vineyard.”
The estate, located at 4782 Alvah’s Lane, includes the former home of the vineyard founders, Louisa and Alex Hargrave, pioneers of the viticulture industry on the East End. The vineyard was home to the first successfully grown Vitis vinifera (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) on Long Island, and has produced multiple award-winning wines ever since.
Hargrave Vineyard, which has become known as the birthplace of Long Island’s wine region, was sold in 1999 to Marco Borghese, a native of Tuscany, and Ann Marie Borghese. They renamed the vineyard Castello di Borghese, or Castle of the Borgheses, a nod to Marco’s noble Italian lineage.
In June of 2014, Ann Marie died of cancer and, less than two weeks later, her husband was killed in a car crash. After Giovanni Borghese listed the property in January of 2021, “Many interested parties came along and some offers,” DiVello explains, but they waited until they found the right buyer that would see the value in allowing Giovanni to continue his parents’ legacy.
“It’s no small feat to find a perfect buyer,” he says.. “The North Fork is a small place. Buying a 66-acre piece of land right in the center of the hamlet is a good investment.”
The property had potential in terms of development and it had generated much interest over the last 18 months.
There are four tax parcels that makeup Castello di Borghese. They include a 3.74-acre building envelope and a 5.16-acre residential plot featuring several detached barns dating back to 1680.
One unique feature is what is called “a real prohibition room,” hidden below an 1800s hand-hewn barn. “The prohibition room filled with booze was discovered in the 1940s, which is written about in Louisa Hargrave’s story, The Vineyard,” DiVello told us last year. The room is now encompassed by a large cellar addition.
There is also a 6.85-acre parcel where the development rights have been sold. The largest parcel is 50.23 acres.
The vines include approximately 5.5 acres of the original Pinot Noir, 2.5 acres of the original Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, two acres of the original Cabernet Franc, and 3.5 acres of the original Merlot.