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Hamptons Life

Sep 20, 2010 3:19 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

At Home with Marco and Ann Marie Borghese

Sep 20, 2010 3:19 PM

For many, the Hamptons are a welcome seasonal respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. For many others, it’s simply home—the place to live, work and enjoy a bit of the beauty and bounty that Mother Nature has provided.

But for Prince Marco and Princess Ann Marie Borghese, owners of Castello di Borghese Vineyard and Winery in Cutchogue, the East End is a giant departure, albeit a pleasant one, from their former life together. Mr. Borghese, a descendent of Italian noblemen, and his wife of 27 years made a major lifestyle change in 1999 when they swapped their Philadelphia society gatherings for life amongst the vines on the rustic North Fork.

The Borgheses and their children—Fernando, Giovanni and Allegra—previously occupied a five-story, 5,000-square-foot brownstone, circa 1812, on Washington Square in the city of brotherly love. Now the couple and their 5-year-old Italian pointer rescue dog, Brix, occupy a sprawling farmhouse which sits on 85 grape-filled acres.

The decision to move to the East End was made over the Thanksgiving holiday in 1998, according to Ms. Borghese, who said that she and her husband fell in love with the area, and Long Island’s first winery—which had been owned by Alex and Louisa Hargrave—on first sight.

“He said, ‘I’ll buy it’ and I thought he meant a bottle of wine,” Ms. Borghese laughed. “But he meant the whole vineyard.”

In 1999, Castello di Borghese, which translates to “Castle of the Borgheses,” was born.

Ms. Borghese explained during a tour of the house and vineyard on Friday that she and her husband have always been foodies and wine lovers so the decision to purchase a vineyard wasn’t that much of a reach.

“My husband was born in Florence and lived on a sustainable farm with thousands of acres ... And dinners were a major part of our lives in Philadelphia,” she said. “Here we have all this abundance. We love to do kitchen dinners, Marco cooks everything from scratch. And of course, there are the wine picks for each course.”

Making the logistical transition from city to country living wasn’t as difficult as one might imagine, either. Ms. Borghese reported

that her new house is furnished nearly entirely with the contents of her old one.

“It was a huge change, but it’s the same,” she said, motioning to the living room decor. “This is everything from my previous life.”

When asked to choose her favorite room in the 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath home, Ms. Borghese said that it’s the double living room, which has expansive views of thousands of arbors growing pinot noir and sauvignon blanc grapes.

“I like the light in here,” she said of the room whose furnishings she described as “beige on beige.”

Entertaining still plays a large role in the Borgheses’ lives, and the spacious living room—with its views, the bar, a stone fireplace and various pieces of artwork—is the most commonly used place for gatherings.

Ms. Borghese pointed out that the bar is actually an old money chest from the Far East, which her husband bought 30 years ago. Above the bar is a painting called “The Mask” by Emlen Etting, a family friend, painter, sculptor and illustrator who lived in Philadelphia until his death in 1993. The room also contains a large-scale painting called “The Last March,” which is part of a trilogy; a hand-carved wooden mirror from Italy; an antique chair from Venice; and a Balinese table.

“Some are from travels, some from friends,” Ms. Borghese said of her eclectic and much-loved furnishings. “I keep telling the children not to buy anything because we have a house full that they will eventually get.”

A long hallway leads to the dining room, which Ms. Borghese points out is the only formal room in the house and is lined with architectural prints by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. The room contains much of the couple’s antique silver and more formal heirloom pieces, which will eventually be passed down through the family. But the room is also home to items of a more personal nature, such as a pastel room screen that was painted many years ago by family friend Linda Darger, née Widener, who baby-sat for the Borghese children.

“She painted that for me in my first house. She worked an entire semester on that,” Ms. Borghese said.

The kitchen, of course, is also a much-used room for cooking, preparing and entertaining. Rustic and inviting, the small open room contains a four-seat round dining table and an antique double Garland stove, on which hangs a sign that reads “Life’s too short to drink cheap wine,” and an ornamental but functional wine corker.

After touring the house came a quick visit to the winery and a tasting of some of the vineyard’s most notable wines, including the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Estate (Gold-medal winner at the Denver International Wine Competition), the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (Mr. Borghese’s signature wine), a 2006 Pinot Noir and the 2005 Meritage, a red table wine that is 40 percent cabernet grape, 40 percent merlot and 20 percent franc blend.

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I got a sense of calm and peaceful tranquility as I read this story. We are living in stressful times and I can only imagine spending just a few moments at Castello di Borghese would go a long way to bringing the stress level down to some normalcy. Can I come over? I'll even shoo away the birds and deer for you. Enjoy!
By unelana (29), North Wales PA on Sep 24, 10 10:27 AM
im so glad to hear that the super rich are able to relax and unwind and relieve their stress. what stress?? stress is trying to feed your family every day like most of the rest of us are trying to do. these people were born into money- never had to worry about making a living- i hope they choke on their grapes
By CaptainSig (708), Dutch Harbor on Sep 28, 10 7:48 PM