It’s hard to believe that five year have passed since Long Island winery owners Christian Wolffer and Bob Palmer, as well as respected vineyard manager Ben Sisson passed away. Over the past week, the Long Island wine community has lost two more pillars — Ann Marie and Marco Borghese, just days apart.
Details on Ann Marie’s passing are few and far between, but I’ve been told that she died after a short fight with cancer.
As reported by The Suffolk Times, Marco died last night as the result of a car accident in Wading River:
Marco Borghese, a pillar of Long Island’s winemaking community, was killed in a car crash on Route 25A in Wading River Monday after failing to navigate a curve and swerving head-on into an oncoming truck, Riverhead Town police said.
Mr. Borghese, 70, of Cutchogue, the owner of Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead where he died, police said. His death comes just days after his wife, Ann Marie Borghese, 56, also died.
Jamesport Vineyards owner Ron Goerler Jr. called it a sad day for the local wine community.
“It’s tough news for all of us,” he said in an email.
Long Island Wine Council executive director Steve Bate said in an email that he was “shocked beyond words” by the news of his colleague’s death.
Mr. Borghese was operating a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee eastbound about 3:30 p.m. when he swerved and struck a westbound 2007 International Harvester Delivery Truck, police said. The driver of the truck, which was owned by Southern Wine and Spirits in Syosset, and his passenger were not injured.
A portion of Route 25A was closed for more than five hours as police investigated the crash, said a witness at the crash scene, where a strong smell of gasoline still filled the air after 9 p.m.
The Borgheses had purchased the winery, Long Island’s first, in 1999 when it was called Hargrave Vineyards. Mr. Borghese, a former president of the Long Island Wine Council, managed the vineyard and served as winemaker at their winery. Ms. Borghese, who assisted in the winemaking, handled marketing and advertising.
The couple came to Long Island from Philadelphia, but the Borghese family has noble roots dating back to ninth century Italy, according to their winery website. Mr. Borghese, a prince who did not use the title, first moved to the U.S. in 1969, according to a media bio the winery had previously issued.
The couple married in 1985 and settled in Philadelphia, where Mr. Borghese, a graduate of the University of Rome, ran an international import/export business and his wife, a graduate of the University of Delaware, established her own jewelry salon, the bio reads.
They were the parents of three children.
The Borgheses first trip to the North Fork was on Thanksgiving 1998, they previously told the Long Island Wine Press.
The longtime wine lovers — Mr. Borghese’s relatives owned a vineyard in Florence for generations and Ms. Borghese studied French wine in Paris — at once fell in love with Long Island’s land of grapevines.
“We came here to taste — not to shop for a vineyard,” Mr. Borghese said in the 2012 Wine Press interview.
While he had grown up on a farm in Italy, he had no experience in a vineyard prior to purchasing his winery.
“I had to learn on the job,” he said.
The business recently expanded with a second tasting room in Aquebogue.
Additional details of Ms. Borghese’s death and funeral arrangements for the couple have not yet been released.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Borghese’s children and the entire industry family.