Only three years after Long Island's Gristina Vineyards was sold for a record $5.5 million, the property is on the market again -- this time with an asking price of $7.5 million.
Vince and Judi Galluccio bought Gristina, on the North Fork, in summer 2000, paying the highest price ever for a Long Island winery. They invested in the property with the goal of making high-quality wines. The couple has now decided to return to Europe, where Vince had spent most of his career, working for firms such as IBM and British Telecom.
"They felt they couldn't focus on the winery if they were back in Europe," said Louisa Hargrave, a former Long Island winery owner, who is handling the sale of the winery for Dunemere Associates. Galluccio was not available for comment, but Hargrave said inquiries have come from local, international and California-based buyers.
The asking price for what is now called Galluccio Family Wineries includes the winery and visitor center, 82.5 acres of land with 42 acres planted to vines, equipment, current inventory and brand names, according to Hargrave. The winery currently produces Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir under the Gristina and Galluccio Estate labels.
Gristina Vineyards -- located on Main Road in Cutchogue, in the heart of the North Fork's vineyard area -- was founded in 1983 by Jerry Gristina. It gained attention in the early 1990s after producing two wines that were rated "outstanding," 90 points or better, on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. Since then, as winemakers and vineyard managers have come and gone, wine quality has fluctuated.
Galluccio was very vocal about his plans to improve the quality of Long Island wines, and he put his money where his mouth was. Among his changes, he invested in new equipment, such as sorting tables and wood fermentors, and hired renowned Bordeaux enologist Michel Rolland as a consultant. Rolland, who owns Château Le Bon-Pasteur and is known for his lush, full-bodied reds, has a long list of big-name clients around the world, including Harlan Estate in Napa. Galluccio brought in two other Frenchmen for his full-time team: winemaker Bernard Cannac and vineyard manager Bernard Ramis.
In a Wine Spectator blind tasting earlier this year of 73 Long Island wines from 25 producers, the Galluccio Estate Cru Georges Allaire Chardonnay 2000 ($21) was one of two wines that scored 90 points, still a rare feat for this emerging region. The wine's full-blown style -- with lots of oak and tropical fruit flavors -- is atypical for the North Fork, where Chardonnays tend toward the crisp side. Not all of the bottlings have been as successful, with other recent releases ranging from 85 to 76 points.
"Getting the scores that [Galluccio] did made [Vince] feel that he had achieved his goal," said Hargrave of the 90-point wine. "It was no longer a mom-and-pop version of a wine business. It was a very professional, upscale situation. I think [Vince] feels a certain sense of achievement, and that comes at the same time that his personal situation is such that he can go back to Europe."
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