Crossroads Ag., the agriculture company owned and operated by real estate scion and farmer Stefan Soloviev, last month completed the purchase of Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue, just up the road from the company’s newly opened Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm, officials said.
The plan is to reopen the popular winery by next spring or summer, they said.
Just this week, Stacey Soloviev, the ex-wife of Stefan Soloviev, received an operating permit to officially open Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm and store, and visitors have begun flocking to the tree-farm destination. After the season, Stacey Soloviev said she’ll focus her efforts on opening the Peconic Bay winery as early as May.
Crossroads Ag., which is based in Kansas and Colorado, owns around 1,000 acres of farmland on Long Island, including the former Davis Peach Farm in Wading River, 62 acres of former Palmer Vineyards vines in Cutchogue, and 50 acres at Peconic Bay Winery. Around half of the 1,000 acres has development rights intact, meaning the company can develop the land for certain purposes other than farming.
But Stefan Soloviev on Thursday said farming is his passion, and the company has applied for only limited building permits for its Long Island properties—three at last count.
Farmland that is currently not planted on Long Island is likely to be cultivated for hemp crops next year, he said. Stacey Soloviev will operate the winery with the couple’s son, Christian, who is also operating Davis Peach Farm and other Long Island farmland.
“I have people who work for me who are very passionate” about grape growing, Stefan Soloviev said. As for himself, he said, “I’m a commercial farmer.” There is no plan to uproot any planted vines for other crops, he added.
Hemp “will be on every open acre next year,” he said. His company has previously grown hemp in New Mexico and Colorado. “Next year we’ll be a big supplier, if not the biggest supplier,” of hemp, he said.
In addition to its use in cannabidiol oils and creams, hemp is used to make fiber and grain products including clothing and rope. Stefan Soloviev described it as a “very moody crop,” but one his farmers have successfully cultivated. One such farm is being tested in Peconic.
Terms of the Peconic Bay Winery sale weren’t released, but the former owners, Paul Lowerre and his wife, Ursula, confirmed the deal in a Newsday story in September. They recalled their years at Peconic Bay as an “amazing and rewarding experience,” and said, “We enjoyed working with the best talent in the industry…we’re happy it’s going into the hands of people who are interested in preserving its agriculture and the nature and beauty of the land.”
North Fork viticulturalist Bill Ackerman has been managing the vines for Crossroads Ag., and Stefan Soloviev praised Ackerman’s work reclaiming 62 acres in Cutchogue formerly owned by Palmer Vineyards. “He saved the entire field,” he said.
Stacey Soloviev has worked long days reclaiming the Christmas Tree Store, preserving popular elements and bringing in new. The shop will sell upwards of 900 trees along with its traditional selection of ornaments and decorations. There are fire pits, a petting yard, hot chocolate and 'smores station and a train is on its way from Texas. “I want families to be able to hang out and make it a memorable day,” she said Wednesday.
Stacey Soloviev said she’ll transfer her efforts to Peconic Bay Winery in January. Some grapes from the approximately 250 acres of vines Crossroads owns are being made into merlot wine the winery will sell in the future. It will also have a selection of white wines from local grapes, she said.
Stefan Soloviev is the son of billionaire real estate developer Sheldon Solow, owner of Solo Building Co. in Manhattan, which Stefan also runs. Soloviev has a home in East Hampton and Stacey is in the process of moving to the North Fork.