This past May, Borghese Vineyards announced the release of their first-ever sparkling rosé: Effervescence. This ultra-refreshing, light pink bubbly is the perfect way to beat the mid-summer heat – but the road to producing the sparkling wine was a long and often difficult one for owner of the vineyard, Giovanni Borghese.
“This wine is a celebration,” said Giovanni. “We’re celebrating not only 50 years of Long Island wine on the North Fork but also the last eight years.”
In 1999, Alex and Louisa Hargrave — the first viticulturists on the East End — sold their historic vineyard to Ann Marie and Marco Borghese. The Borgheses quickly established themselves in the community and culture of the North Fork wine country while maintaining the Hargraves’ legacy.
Neither Giovanni nor his parents intended for him to take ownership of the vineyard. In 2014, he was hitchhiking on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean when he received a call that his mother passed away. Giovanni returned to the United States when, ten days after his mother’s death, his father suddenly passed away. Suddenly, Giovanni became part owner of a business he knew almost nothing about.
“At 28 I was not married, I didn’t have kids. I was coming off of eight months of hitchhiking and I thought to myself: What do I have to lose?” said Giovanni.
However, Giovanni faced the challenge of a dissolution clause: an agreement determined by his parents and their nine investing partners when the vineyard was first purchased. The deal stated that if the Borgheses and their partners wanted to continue ownership of the vineyard beyond the year 2020, a new operating agreement would be made and anyone who wanted to out must be bought out by the remaining partners.
“When my parents passed, the partners and my siblings felt their best bet was to sell,” said Giovanni. “I knew if I did the knee-jerk reaction and sold the vineyard fast and cheap, I’d regret it. I bought out my brother and my sister and became 51% owner. I [then] needed to be the one to buy the remaining partners out before the end of 2020.”
From 2014 to 2020, Giovanni worked tirelessly with his team, making many sacrifices in his personal life to secure funding while continuing to maintain the legacy of the vineyard his parents left him. On December 23, 2020, just over a week before the contract was set to expire, Giovanni acquired the last of his funds and signed the contract to become 100% owner of Borghese Vineyard.
In June of 2022, Giovanni sold 66 acres of the historic vineyard to pay off his remaining debt while maintaining a lease to live on the land as well as continue full control of the vineyard, winemaking process and tasting room.
“It was a massive weight off our shoulders,” said Giovanni. “It was a difficult time but those eight years were pretty special because of the amazing team that stayed with me through all of it. And now we can celebrate.”
The carbonated rosé is a first of its kind for Borghese Vineyard, yet it was always a dream of the entire team to create one. The process to develop and bottle any kind of sparkling wine takes a lot of time, money and relationship building – things the Borghese team was able to cultivate during those eight years.
“We chose to do a rosé because quite frankly it’s delicious,” said Allissa Goodale, Borghese’s winemaker and vineyard manager. “Effervescence can be paired with food or on its own. We made it as a celebration, but it’s really for every occasion. [The rosé] is super light, but still has something going on in the glass. The name reflects the light bubbly joyful feeling we have about this accomplishment.”
The rosé comes just in time for Long Island Wine Country’s 50th anniversary.
“As a region, we are all celebrating 50 years, but we want to make it clear that Borghese Vineyard is not celebrating 50 years,” said Giovanni.
However, Borghese Vineyard celebrates their 25th anniversary next year. Giovanni is excited to announce that Borghese will introduce the vineyard’s first sparkling white wine, in collaboration with nearby vineyard Sparkling Pointe. Made in the Méthode Champenoise style, this sparkling white wine will be available in the spring of 2024.
“It’s the greatest way I can think of to honor my parents’ legacies,” said Giovanni.
You can taste Effervescence by the glass or bottle while visiting their Cutchogue tasting room on Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The bottle is $40 and can also be purchased on the vineyard’s website.