Business

Long Island’s original vines are for sale in Cutchogue

It’s not entirely uncommon for a North Fork real estate listing to include a historic structure or a unique feature like a vineyard.

But what about a historic vineyard?

A piece of Long Island’s first commercial vineyard hit the market this week in a 66-acre Cutchogue listing that includes a private home and detached barns dating back to the late 17th century. It is listed for $3.69 million.

“I’ve shown it a couple times already, just on the first day it was listed,” said Joseph DiVello of Century 21 Albertson Realty. “It doesn’t feel like showing a home, it feels like giving a tour.”

The Alvah’s Lane estate is the former home of the owners of Castello di Borghese and the property was first planted with grapes in 1973 by Louisa and Alex Hargrave, who would go on to open the island’s first winery there. Included in the listing are 13 acres of original vines, including rows of pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc and merlot.

The property has been sold only once since Hargrave Vineyard opened there more than four decades ago. It was Thanksgiving weekend 1998 when Marco Borghese famously told his wife, Ann Marie, on a visit to the tasting room, “Let’s buy it.” She thought he meant the bottle they were drinking, but a year later they owned the vineyard.

Their son, Giovanni, who took over the business after his parents died in 2014, did not list the tasting room or the 18-acre parcel where it sits.

“To be perfectly blunt, it’s a business decision. It’s the best solution for promoting Borghese’s viticulture, winemaking and customer experience.”

Gio Borghese

Mr. Borghese wishes to lease and maintain the vineyard and processing facility after it’s sold to continue his winery operation, though he recognizes that depends on the buyer.

Such an arrangement is not unheard of on the North Fork. Mr. DiVello pointed to a 90-acre sale by the Damianos family in 2015, where they continued to maintain the vineyards for their Pindar and Duck Walk wines. 

“I’m really thinking about Borghese’s future,” Mr. Borghese said of the potential sale. “To be perfectly blunt, it’s a business decision. It’s the best solution for promoting Borghese’s viticulture, winemaking and customer experience.”

Mr. DiVello said the perfect buyer would be someone “interested in having an agricultural family compound.” 

To prepare for the listing, he read “The Vineyard: A Memoir,” written by Ms. Hargrave more than a decade ago. 

He said he’s become obsessed with the rich history of the property.

“[The Hargraves] discovered a prohibition room filled with booze,” he said. “They once found a pistol in the attic dating back to 1880.”

The listing comprises four tax parcels, including a nearly four-acre buildable lot and two preserved parcels totaling more than 56 acres. The four-bedroom farmhouse boasts sweeping vineyard views and an in-ground pool. 

Mr. Borghese said as he’s made the difficult decision to list the parcels, he’s reflected a lot on his family’s history there. He recalled being just 14 years old and living in Philadelphia when his parents sat him and his sister, Allegra, down to tell them they were “embarking on a new journey.”

“I remember how it felt as a young teenager scratching my head and being along for the ride,” he said. “It’s certainly an opportunity for someone.”

Mr. Borghese also expressed gratitude for all the support he’s received from the surrounding community in the 6 1/2 years he’s worked to continue his parents’ legacy.

“So many people have encouraged us and been kind to us,” he said. “It’s been very rewarding to be a participant in North Fork viticulture and I’m looking forward to continuing in it for the foreseeable future.”