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(Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
(Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Kareem Massoud was just 10 years old in 1983 when his parents, Ursula and Charles Massoud, planted Paumanok’s first vines on what was once a potato farm in Aquebogue.

In those days, he and his brothers, Salim and Nabeel, were recruited by their mother and father to sucker, prune and otherwise tend those vines on weekends and holidays.

“We saw no reward in it,” Kareem says with a chuckle. “We couldn’t drink the wine!” 

Nevertheless, he had extensive experience in every part of the vineyard and winery by the time he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where he pursued a degree in economics.

While there, Kareem says, he began to feel that Paumanok Vineyards was, as his parents described it, “the beginning of a tradition.”

And when the Massouds bottled their first wine in 1991, Kareem was fascinated by the automated bottling line and became determined, he says, to “learn every aspect here, in every detail.”

His junior year at UPenn, he analyzed Paumanok’s business model for a marketing class case study.

Compared to others, Kareem says, he saw so much potential in his family’s operation that he told his parents he’d like to work for them full time.

But they knew he needed to test his mettle in a larger context.

“This isn’t why we’re sending you to an Ivy League college,” they told him. “Get a real job.”

So Kareem headed to Wall Street, where he worked two years as a private equity analyst.

“It was a good job,” he recalls. “A real career path. But I felt too limited there.”