Castello di Borghese winery owner dies in Wading River crash

06/30/2014 10:19 PM |
Marco Borghese during a tour of his Cutchogue vineyard in 2012. (Credit: Samantha Brix, file)

Marco Borghese during a tour of his Cutchogue vineyard in 2012. (Credit: Samantha Brix, file)

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 following a battle with cancer.

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.

Police investigate the scene of the crash. (Credit: AJ Ryan, Stringer News Service)

Police investigate the scene of the crash. (Credit: AJ Ryan, Stringer News Service)

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.

The Wine Council issued a statement about the Borgheses Tuesday.

“[The Borgheses] quickly established themselves as vital members of our industry and the community,” the statement reads. “Just four years after moving to the North Fork, Marco was elected president of the Long Island Wine Council. With his European charm and relaxed elegance, he was instrumental in leading the organization through some difficult, transitional times.

“Ann Marie was equally indispensable to the region. Vivacious and intelligent, she actively contributed to industry marketing strategies and activities while tirelessly promoting the family’s wines and the North Fork across the New York metropolitan area.

“The Long Island Wine Council and its members will greatly miss our good friends Ann Marie and Marco, and we join together in sending our deepest condolences to Allegra, Giovanni, Fernando and the entire Borghese family.”

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.

Ann Marie Borghese (Credit: Long Island Wine Press, file)

Ann Marie Borghese (Credit: Long Island Wine Press, file)

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.

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Borghese are being handled by DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Homes.

gparpan@timesreview.com