Saturday, July 8, 2017

Rising costs make LI vineyards a challenging passion

Owner David Shanks at Surrey Lane Vineyard. (photo: Randee Dadonna)
From Newsday
Profit margins at Long Island wineries have always been thinner than a grape skin, but a labor shortage, rising property taxes and costs that keep the price of a bottle of local wine relatively high have made running a vineyard a challenging passion.

Ownership of Long Island’s more than 50 vineyards and wineries is in a slow transition, as the first-generation pioneers who worked hardscrabble potato fields into lush green vineyards on both East End forks pass their love of the industry on to their children or sell to new owners.

In most cases, the offspring of those owners have taken on the long hours and labor-intensive work of managing the 3,000 acres of vineyards, learning the region and navigating the challenges of operations, marketing and weather. The region produces around 500,000 cases of wine a year.

“It’s the biggest misconception that if you own a vineyard, you’re rolling in it,” said Giovanni Borghese, co-owner of Castello di Borghese Vineyard and Winery in Cutchogue, who puts in seven-day workweeks since taking over from his parents, Marco and Ann Marie Borghese, who died days apart in 2014.

New buyers are entering the region, most notably with the recent sale of Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse in Mattituck. The property was sold for $2.1 million, according to Kevin Webster, chairman of the board of assessors for Southold Town, to former Wall Street financier Randy Frankel and his wife, Barbara. Like many before them, the outsiders face a learning curve.
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