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Long Island's Paumanok Vineyards to Buy Neighboring Palmer Vineyards

Both wineries have been making wine in New York for 35 years; the sale includes Palmer's 49 acres of vineyards
The Massoud family is expanding on Long Island's North Fork.
Photo by: Sara Matthews
The Massoud family is expanding on Long Island's North Fork.

Emma Balter
Posted: July 25, 2018

Paumanok Vineyards is purchasing one of its neighbors, Palmer Vineyards. Both wineries are located in Aquebogue, N.Y., on Long Island's North Fork. Paumanok will acquire Palmer's 60-acre estate, including its 49-acre vineyard, winery and inventory. The sale will close Aug. 1; the price was not disclosed.

"The late Bob Palmer [founder of Palmer Vineyards] and us, we started in the same year, 1983," Paumanok owner Charles Massoud told Wine Spectator. "We've been neighbors for all this time. We've been good friends. It was a very compatible acquisition."

Kathy Le Morzellec, Robert Palmer's daughter, has been working at the estate for 22 years. The property has been for sale since the summer of 2009, a few months after her father passed away. "When my father started this in '83, he envisioned an industry, but he never envisioned an industry as quickly growing as this has been," she said.

Massoud, who manages the property with his wife, Ursula, and son Kareem, who is Paumanok's winemaker, had been looking to expand the business. With three sons and seven grandchildren, he says they needed to grow to support the family. Paumanok currently has 86 acres of vineyards and makes approximately 12,000 cases a year of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and more.

"Palmer has other varieties than what we do, so there's an opportunity to broaden the portfolio," said Massoud, noting the Albariño, Malvasia and Gewürztraminer on the Palmer property, which make up a small part of the 8,000 to 10,000 cases the winery makes annually. Albariño "is a big plus," he added, because he had been planning to plant the variety at Paumanok next year, along with Malbec and the Loire Valley grape Melon de Bourgogne—totaling 13 acres of new vines. There will be cross-fertilization, he says, with the properties sharing grapes and some staff, but he's intent on keeping the companies as separate brands with two distinct identities.

Palmer's Albariño was planted by the estate's Spain-born winemaker, Miguel Martin, who will not be staying on at the winery; Kareem will be overseeing the operations at both Paumanok and Palmer. However, all other Palmer employees are expected to be retained. "It's a challenge because we're doubling the operation overnight, and yet I think we're inheriting a wonderful team," said Massoud. "Palmer is a very well-oiled machine, I think Kathy did an amazing job."

"It was always my goal to keep [Palmer] as a winery and vineyard, because we've always been so committed to the industry," said Le Morzellec. "When Charles approached me, it was a super fit. I'm excited; they share our passion." She will be staying on to help with the transition, but after that, she plans to relax. "My husband and I are looking forward to finally calming down and looking to try to retire."

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