Abandoned North Fork vineyard sells for $8.5M

Abandoned vineyard

117 acres of open space in Mattituck and Cutchogue, now the site of an abandoned vineyards, has been sold for $8.5 million. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Nearly 120 acres of Mattituck and Cutchogue farmland has changed hands in a multi-million dollar deal that will surely be one of the North Fork’s largest real estate transactions this year.

The development rights of the property, located along Route 48, Elijah’s Lane and Oregon Road, are intact.

The parcels, which include an abandoned vineyard and a handful of buildings, sold for $8.5 million, according to Joseph DiVello of Albertson Realty, who negotiated the deal.

He declined to identify the buyer.

“I couldn’t think of a better person to acquire it,” said Mr. Divello. “A lot of people are looking to invest in farmland in a conservative market place, which is what the North Fork has to offer.”

The property was not publicly listed, Mr. Divello said.

A large portion of the site might be kept in agriculture, though no concrete plans have been set, he said. The seller of the site is L and R Vineyards LLC. The parcels last sold during a several month period in 1983 and 1984 for a total of $691,500, according to the Southold Town Tax Assessor’s office.

Such a large tract of buildable land is somewhat rare in Southold Town, where farmland is often protected through preservation programs.

“There is a newer demand for bigger parcels like this,” said Albertson Realty broker and owner Tom Scalia. “This was fairly unique because it had the development rights intact.”

It will almost certainly be the largest sale of the year for the agency.

The property, which once produced grapes for Manor Hill Vineyards, has been farmed by several growers over the years, including Long Island wine pioneers Louisa and Alex Hargrave. There, the late Dave Mudd planted 50 acres of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and pinot blanc in the mid 1980s, Ms. Hargrave said.

“We got the most gorgeous cabernet franc there. The cabernet sauvignon was spectacular,” Ms. Hargrave recalled. “I spent years working there, it was a beautiful place to work.”

However the site did have its issues over the years, she said, including dieback in some portions, improperly trellised plants and chardonnay plants that turned out to actually be pinot blanc. Overgrown rows of wires, wood posts and vine stems can still be seen near Route 48 today.

The property, which closed on August 17, was the home and farm of Stanley and Leslie Tuthill. The brothers, who were known for their egg business but also grew produce, lived on the property until their deaths.

The sale is one of three large vineyard transactions in the area in the past two years. The Damianos family, which owns Duck Walk and Pindar vineyards, sold 90 nearby acres of land including 30 acres of mature vineyard, for $6.5 million in February 2015.

And Barbara Smithen, who founded Sherwood House Vineyards with her late husband, Dr. Charles Smithen, sold a 38-acre Oregon Road property, which included her home and vineyard, for $1.8 million in May 2015.

vchinese@timesreview.com