Pindar Vineyards ponders selling its business for $65M

Pindar Vineyards in Peconic encourages guests to bring

Pindar Vineyards in Peconic encourages guests to bring a picnic lunch to accompany their wines while dining out in the vineyards. (Sept. 11, 2010) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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Pindar Vineyards, Long Island's largest wine producer and one of the pioneers of the North Fork wine region, is considering the prospect of a sale -- if the right buyer comes along with $65 million, according to a family member and the company's real estate agent.

The Pindar Vineyards empire of more than 500 acres is listed by its Peconic address, not by name, at the real estate site, under the description, "the largest vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island."

No price is listed, but Amir Allen Alishahi of Sun Properties of New York, the listing agent, said the parcels, located throughout the North Fork, could sell as a package or in parts.

The listing for the vineyard says there are "four fully operational vineyards and/or wineries," including Pindar's Duck Walk properties, which "can be sold individually or collectively." The vineyards produce 17 varieties of grapes and include a large warehouse, a wind turbine and geothermal power.

Jason Damianos, Pindar's chief winemaker and son of founder Dr. Herodotus "Dan" Damianos, emphasized that the company was "doing very well," and that the idea of selling was the real estate agent's, not the family's. Pindar was approached by Sun Properties, offering to shop the company to high-end investors. "We're not actively trying to sell it," he said, but if the right buyer and offer came along, the family would "entertain it."

The $65-million listing price is for all of the vineyard's operations and properties.

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Pindar is the latest East End vineyard to contemplate a sale. Palmer Vineyards of Aquebogue has been on the selling block since the death of its founder, Robert Palmer, in 2009. In March, Lieb Cellars and Premium Wine Group of Mattituck were packaged together for a sale to private equity firm, Southport Lane, for an undisclosed sum.

Last year, David Shanks, chief executive of publisher Penguin Group USA, bought 46 acres of the former Ackerly Pond Vineyard in Southold and began selling grapes and other crops from his newly named Surrey Lane Vineyard.

Alishahi said he is also offering Martha Clara Vineyards for upward of $29 million. The 220-acre property on Sound Avenue in Riverhead is also listed on the site.

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Martha Clara founder Robert Entenmann, of the Entenmann bakery family, was traveling and unavailable for comment, said Bruce Siegal, executive vice president of First Long Island Investors, an investment firm affiliated with the family.

Siegal said the company "might be in a better position to comment at the end of the summer."

Syma Gerard, an expert in North Fork agricultural land sales and commercial real estate principal, said the Damianos family has been instrumental in the creation of the Long Island wine region, adding a "level of excitement and ingenuity" to the wine trail.

"By their vast holdings, they've shown a powerful belief in land in eastern Long Island," she said.

She added, "It would be sad to see them leave. I feel they've added a lot to the wine industry and the community."

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Pindar Vineyards was started in 1980 by the elder Damianos. The family-run business, which includes his wife, Barbara, three sons, and two daughters, has grown to be Long Island's most widely distributed wine brand.

One son, Alexander, is owner and general manager of Duck Walk Vineyards; another, Jason, also owns Jason's Vineyard in Jamesport, which is not part of the sale. A third son, Pindar, is director of vineyard management.

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