By: Ellen Cans
The sprawling acres of land in the tip of Long Island, known as North Fork, NY seem to possess irresistible allure for the ultra- wealthy. The son of the New York real estate billionaire, Sheldon Solow, just purchased a 53-acre winery in Cutchogue, LI. He isn’t the first to snatch up land for winemaking in the laid-back oasis.
Stefan Soloviev, Solow’s son, who changed his name to the original Russian Jewish name from before immigrating to America, is buying the Peconic Bay Winery, in October.
Solow, 91, was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn. He made his fortune as a real estate developer, most notably by buying a line of town-houses and turning it into a 50-story office building at 9 West 57th Street. He now has a net worth of roughly $5.2 billion.
His son, Soloviev, 44, joined his firm last year after moving west and building his own agriculture conglomerate, called Crossroads Agriculture. Soloviev owns 500,000 acres in Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas, on which he grows crops, raises cattle and even has a small railway. Soloviev is ranked the 54th largest landowner in the U.S. He now also co-runs his father’s Solow Building Co., which is currently building a luxury condo tower at 7 W. 57th St, near the company’s flagship office building.
As reported by the NY Post, this is not Soloviev’s first dab at winery. He already owned about 150 acres of planted vines in North Folk, and a total of 1,000 acres in the region. However, he has not yet sold any wine, and is about “two or three years away” from producing wines available for sale, as per Stacey Soloviev, his partner and ex-wife. First, he needs to hire a winemaker to manage the full 200 acres of vineyards. Soloviev said, he will bring in his “management team of three guys to call the shots for every acre. The decision-making will be from Kansas and Colorado but all the hires will be local on the North Fork.”
Some locals worry that Soloviev and other wealthy land owners will chip at North Folk’s charm by adding big development. Soloviev, whose primary residence is in the Hamptons, says otherwise. “The North Fork is beautiful. The irony is that it is like Sagaponack when I was a kid. I respect it. I have no plans to change it, but that can change in the next five years,” Soloviev said. “My priority is agriculture on the North Fork and making it work,” he added.
Other well-heeled elites have also purchased vineyards on the North Fork. Mexican mining mogul, José Antonio Rivero Larrea, bought Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead for $15 million last year. Randy Frankel, an ex-Goldman Sachs managing director and part owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, purchased Croteaux Vineyards in July in partnership. That 14-acre site is notable for being the only vineyard in the country dedicated exclusively to making dry, fresh, fruity, Rosé wines.
“New investment coming into the North Fork is a good thing,” says winemaker Kareem Massoud. “People want to be there, and it confirms what we already knew. It’s a little piece of paradise we have here on the North Fork.”
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