The shaggy-haired, heavily tattooed son of a New York real estate billionaire just bought a 53-acre winery in Cutchogue, LI — making him the latest in a string of ultra-wealthy individuals to take up wine making in Long Island’s laid-back North Fork.
Stefan Soloviev — the 44-year-old son of real estate mogul Sheldon Solow — is buying the Peconic Bay Winery in October — adding to the roughly 150 acres of planted vines he already owned on the North Fork, located on the tip of Long Island. He owns 1,000 total acres in the region.
There are no wines for sale, yet Soloviev — who changed his name to the way it was before his Russian Jewish family immigrated to the US — must first hire a winemaker, who will oversee all 200 acres of vineyards, said Stacey Soloviev, his partner and ex-wife. The team is still “two or three years away” from producing wines available for sale, said Stacey.
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Soloviev, whose arms are adorned with elaborate tattoos, joins a growing list of wealthy elites buying up vineyards on the North Fork, which prides itself on being the antithesis of the Hamptons despite running parallel to it — thus creating the “fork.”
Randy Frankel, an ex-Goldman Sachs managing director and part owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, bought Croteaux Vineyards in July in partnership with Kristen and Daniel Pennessi, owners of the new boutique Menhaden hotel in Greenport. Croteaux is known for being the only American winery to produce rosé wines exclusively from estate-grown merlot, cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc grapes.
It was Frankel’s second foray into North Fork wines. In 2017, he bought the Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck.
Last year, Mexican mining mogul José Antonio Rivero Larrea and his daughter, Maria Rivero Gonzalez, bought the Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead for $15 million. They have since rebranded the 205-acre property, which includes 85 planted acres, RGNY.
While some locals worry that Soloviev and other wealthy land owners will bring big development to the North Fork, Soloviev tells Side Dish that — aside from three spec homes on under six acres in East Marion — he is currently focused on growing crops. Although that could change in five years, he added.
“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.
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“My priority is agriculture on the North Fork and making it work,” Soloviev added.
Soloviev, who was born and raised in Manhattan, co-runs his father’s Solow Building Co., which is building a luxury condo tower on Billionaires’ Row at 7 W. 57th St., near their flagship 9 W. 57th St.
Soloviev joined the firm last year after moving west and building his own agriculture empire. His Crossroads Agriculture owns 500,000 acres in Colorado, New Mexico, and Kansas, where he grows crops, raises cattle and owns a small railway.
As for the winery, Soloviev says he’s bringing 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.”
While Soloviev divides his time between Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas, his primary residence is in the Hamptons, where he owns two landscape “hobby” farms that total around 55 acres.
East Hampton, he says, is home, where he lives with his six sons.
“I love that town more than any other place in the world. It’s beautiful every time of the year. My good friends are here. East Hampton is home for me for the rest of my life,” Soloviev says.
Gabriella Macari, who is studying to be a master sommelier while helping run her family’s Macari Vineyards, says she welcomes the attention and new investments.
“People are embracing the quality of North Fork wines. They are so much better than when we started here. People are now realizing the quality — and the potential. It’s delicious,” she said.
“New investment coming into the North Fork is a good thing,” added 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.”