Tag Archive | "American Hotel"

Merrell and McMullan Will Speak at Book and Author Luncheon

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McMullan Photo

James McMullan is one of two authors who will speak at the John Jermain Memorial Library’s annual Book and Author Luncheon this Sunday. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Two Sag Harbor writers, Susan Scarf Merrell and James McMullan, who have both published new works this year, will be the featured speakers when the Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library hold their annual Book and Author Luncheon on Sunday, December 7, from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the American Hotel. The event is already sold out.

Both writers said they are happy to lend a hand to the library, which they both described as a community treasure.

“I love this library. I’ve spent a lot of time writing in the old building, and the people at the library have always been so good to me,” said Ms. Merrell who won a seat on the first elected library board. “I’m very committed to what this library brings to our community.”

“I’m so happy this little town of Sag Harbor has such a vital library,” added Mr. McMullan. “On the human level, I’m very impressed. We’re so lucky to have those kind of people on the library staff.”

Ms. Merrell describes her second novel, “Shirley: A Novel,” as a book of suspense and obsession that was based on her own fascination with the writer Shirley Jackson, who lived in Benington, Vermont, with her husband, the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman.

Merrell Photo

Susan Scarf Merrell

In the novel, a young woman named Rose moves into the writer’s former home with her professor husband and slowly begins to believe she is living in a gothic horror writer’s novel, Ms. Merrell said. She is haunted by the ghost, real or imagined, of the writer who both idealizes and believes is linked to the disappearance of a student from Benington College years earlier.

Rose, Ms. Merrell said, “doesn’t really now how to be an adult and a mother and she becomes obsessed with Shirley Jackson who she thinks is a brilliant writer and great mother.”

Like her two previous books, Ms. Merrell said “Shirley” grew out of her own deep interest in Ms. Jackson and she weaves events from the writer’s life throughout.

Ms. Merrell is also the author of “ The Accidental Bond: How Sibling Connections Influence Adult Relationships” and the novel,  “A Member of the Family,” and other short stories and essays. She teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program at Stony Brook Southampton College and is fiction editor of TSR: The Southampton Review.

Her speaking partner, Mr. McMullan, is well known for his theater posters and book illustrations. He described his memoir, “Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood,” as “a project I had started myself, with no editor or art director involved. I did more than half the book before I ever approached the publisher. I knew this was a book I was going to do whether or not it ever gets published or not.”

In the book Mr. McMullan pairs each page of prose with an illustration, which describes his childhood in China and the moves he made halfway around the world and back, following the Japanese invasion in World War II.

Although Mr. McMullan said he would not characterize his memoir as “a heavy” book, he said it explored the complicated relationship he had with his parents and the upheaval in his life that came with the war.

“I’m going to speak about why it took me so long to write the book and the feelings I had about the story, the anxieties the story brought up,” he said, “and how it was an amazing act of moving through the process. It’s some of the best painting I’ve ever done in my life.”

Besides his freelance work, Mr. McMullan is the principal poster artist for Lincoln Center, the illustrator with his wife, the author Kate McMullan, of 12 children’s books, the designer of U.S. postage stamps, and a teacher for many years at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is also the author of three books on his work, “Revealing Illustrations: The Art of James McMullan,” “The Theater Posters of James McMullan” and “More McMullans: The Lincoln Center Theater Posters, 1987-2012, a book on drawing,  many articles and reviews.

Film Explores The Woman Behind Secretariat

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Penny Chenery Tweedy with Secretariat. Secretariat.com

By Stephen J. Kotz

Few horses have captured the public’s imagination like Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, whose success made its owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy, the public face of horse racing. With the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby this weekend, the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival will present the East Coast premiere of a documentary that explores the life of the famous champion’s owner, who was a trailblazer herself in a sport long dominated by men.

“Penny & Red: The Story of Secretariat’s Owner,” which is directed by Ms. Tweedy’s son, John Tweedy, will be screened at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Bay Street Theatre. The screening will follow a “Triple Crown Benefit” lunch and silent auction of Secretariat memorabilia that will take place at noon at The American Hotel and raise money for the film festival and two charitable organizations dedicated to the welfare of horses, Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue and the Secretariat Foundation.

Jacqui Lofaro, the director of the film festival, said the idea for turning the event into a three-way fundraiser was a natural. Amaryllis, run by Christine Distefano, which now has eight locations on Long Island, has several of Secretariat’s offspring among its rescued horses, and Ms. Tweedy founded the Secretariat Foundation.

Mr. Tweedy, who has enjoyed a long career as a documentary filmmaker, and Bill Nack, a former Newsday reporter who covered horse racing and wrote, “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion,” will attend both events and take part in a question-and-answer session following the screening.

“I realized my mother was getting older and her story needed to be told,” said Mr. Tweedy in a telephone interview this week. “It transformed my mother’s life—she became the human face and voice of Secretariat. And she transformed how thoroughbred owners interacted with fans.”

Ms. Tweedy was a child of self-made man who first made a fortune in New York before rescuing the old family farm, The Meadow in Doswell, Virginia, from foreclosure and transforming it into a horse farm. Ms. Tweedy, who worked in New York during World War II, was studying for an MBA at Columbia University when she got married. At her father’s request, she dropped out of school a month before graduating.

She moved with her husband, a successful lawyer, to Denver, where he became one of the founders of Vail as a skiing center. In the film, Ms. Tweedy who is now in her 90s, admitted that she was unhappy in her marriage and frustrated with her role as a housewife. When her father became ill in the late 1960s, she had her escape. She began splitting her time between her family, in Denver, and the horse farm in Virginia.

In 1972, she began a streak of remarkable success, when her horse Riva Ridge won both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.  But those accomplishments would pale in comparison to what would transpire just a year later.

Entering the season, Secretariat was considered a potential star, and Ms. Tweedy was able to syndicate the breeding rights for more than $6 million, an unheard of sum at the time and enough to rescue the family horse farm, which had been running losses for several years.

In the Kentucky Derby, jockey Ron Turcotte guided Secretariat from the back of the pack to a two-length win. At the Preakness, Secretariat showed a remarkable, and sustained, burst of speed in the back stretch to move from dead last to an easy victory. But it was at the Belmont, the grueling mile-and-a-half race that foils so many Triple Crown hopefuls that Secretariat enjoyed his greatest triumph, obliterating a small field of only five contenders to win by an astounding 31 lengths and shave more than two seconds off the track record.

Mr. Tweedy said that because at the time, America had been torn apart by anti-war protests, the beginning of the Watergate scandal and other problems, “there was a hunger in the culture for an uncomplicated hero.” And Secretariat fit the bill.

“We would get 250 pieces of fan mail day,” Mr. Tweedy said, adding that Secretariat was on the cover of Time, Sports Illustrated, and Newsweek in the same week. The horse, he added, was a natural ham, straightening up and posing when he heard the click of a camera.

“It was a very cathartic opportunity to talk about and explore issues that we hadn’t talked about as mother and son,” he said of making the film. It was also very much an opportunity for my siblings.”

“She was extremely capable and interested in business and she was passionate to have her own career,” said Mr. Tweedy of his mother. “She did have a heroic journey, but the back story was not known to the public.”

Tickets to the Triple Crown Benefit luncheon at the American Hotel are $125 and include admission to the film. Tickets for the film only are $15. For more information visit HT2FF.com or info@ht2ff.com or call Bay Street Theatre at 631-725-9500.

Myron Levine

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DSC_0012 By Stephen J. Kotz

How did the idea of holding a memorial dinner for your son first take shape?

After the accident, we were contacted by the East End chapter of Slow Food. They wanted to know if we would agree to do a benefit with the money going to his children. We said if they wanted to have a dinner in his honor, we’d be willing o do that as long as it would fund something related to organic farming.

Ted Conklin of The American Hotel agreed to donate The American Hotel for the dinner. Everything was donated. The first year, it was sold out.

We raised $12,000 to $15,000 and we used the money fund two interns for Sylvester Manor.

This year the fourth annual Joshua Levine Memorial Dinner will take place on Sunday, April 6. What have you got planned differently this year?

The dinner itself will again be at The American Hotel, but this year Dodds and Eder said they would like to host the pre-dinner party. Their space is gigantic, so we can get 250 people in that space and it wouldn’t seem crowded.

We were never able to have a silent auction before because we never had the space, so we have been going out in the community to get items for that. The generosity is unbelievable. We’ve gotten donations for foursomes from The Atlantic, The Bridge, East Hampton, Noyac, Hampton Hills, South Fork, and Sebonac [golf clubs] a two-night stay at The Huntting Inn and a gift certificate to The Palm; Topping Rose, Sen, the Cuddy, the Living Room, Marders, you name it.

Who will be the beneficiary of this year’s event?

The second year, they told us about the edible schoolyard project. That really appealed to me. If anything, that would really memorialize Josh and what he was all about. It was really about helping kids to understand. It has evolved now so what they learn in the garden is integrated into the classroom. These kids are passionate about it.

They felt they needed to bring some stability to the program by having master farmers who would work with the schools. We decided that first year we needed three master farmers. Slow Food East End actually had an application that went out to the farming community with a stipend of $4,000 each.

We did the same thing last year, but with 18 to 20 schools now involved, we needed an extra master farmer.

This year we are hoping to raise $40,000. Now there are 25 or more schools, so we’ll need one or two more master farmers. We are also trying to raise money for projects some of the schools need.

How did your son find his way from the city to farming?

Josh was doing real estate in the city. He was successful. He just didn’t like it.

We had been out here since 1979. I do a lot of gardening, so l guess it was in his blood. His wife, Anne, was born on a farm in Virginia and he just wanted to learn about it. He applied for an internship at Quail Hill with Scott Chaskey. Scott hired him and the next year promoted him to be the market manager.

He was looking to get an education and then looking to use it to do something else. He wanted to start a business helping families make organic gardens and then he’d come and help them care for them.

What does the future hold for the Joshua Levine Memorial Foundation?

The principal purpose of the foundation will be to continue to support the edible schoolyard program and other things Josh might have been passionate about.

It’s gotten a life of its own now. These gardens are really important. It’s not just about growing food, it’s about learning about life…. There are just so many lessons you learn in this program.

It’s also important for my grandchildren. There’s a selfish part to this. I want my grandchildren to know who their father was.

The Fourth Annual Joshua Levine Memorial Foundation Dinner will be held on April 6 at The American Hotel with a pre-dinner party and auction at Dodds & Eder in Sag Harbor. For more information or to buy tickets, visit joshualevinefoundation.org.



Promoting “Slow” Food

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By Amy Patton

Students from the Bridgehampton School's Edible School Garden.

Students from the Bridgehampton School’s Edible School Garden.

An upcoming celebration of locally cultivated food, sustainable farming and micro-agriculture will mingle next month with the memory of a North Haven man who held a passion for all these things.

The American Hotel, in partnership with the Joshua Levine Memorial Foundation, will host a dinner and pre-dinner cocktail party Sunday, March 24 to raise funds in part for the Edible School Garden Group and the three “master” gardeners chosen to help local school districts cultivate and expand their school gardens.

The foundation is guided by Myron and Susan Levine, of Sag Harbor, who lost their son Josh in 2010 when he was fatally injured in an accident while working at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett.

Josh, who was 35 years old when he died, left behind two small children and his wife, Ann.

Myron Levine said the overwhelming support for his family from the community after the tragic accident spurred him to find a way to raise funds to better the community. Since Josh was so passionate about organic farming and its benefits, said Myron, the family chose to promote what would most significantly preserve his son’s memory.

Although Josh began his career as a real estate developer in Manhattan, his father said after spending many summers on the East End, his son found a calling in farming and in 2008 he became a volunteer at the Peconic Land Trust’s Quail Hill Farm where he served as a summer apprentice on the Amagansett acreage.

“He was such a gentle man,” said Myron. “He was so drawn by what he saw out here, the simplicity, the purity. He saw the value of keeping local agriculture alive.”

Also to benefit from March’s event is Slow Food East End (SFEE), an organization that, as one of its charitable projects, works with local schools to teach children about the value of homegrown produce. Last year, the group helped several school districts like Greenport and the Hayground School install greenhouses and small gardens so that kids could learn hands-on the benefits of small-scale organic farming.

“Slow food is obviously the opposite of fast food,” said Mary Morgan, the former director of SFEE, who recently stepped down from the organization to head another related charity. “Our goal is for local children to understand that not all they eat must come out of packages at the supermarket.”

The schools that currently benefit from the Edible School Garden program, said Morgan, which this year number 20 throughout the North and South Forks, “are in various stages of working with the students on building and maintaining food gardens.” Morgan noted some of the kids’ homegrown efforts have even led to some of the produce being sold at area farmer’s markets or used in cafeterias. The master gardeners, who are hired with funds garnered from the now-yearly Joshua Levine Memorial Foundation event, work in conjunction with teachers, administrators and students towards the SFEE’s goal.

“For children to understand where their food comes from is so important,” said Peconic Land Trust president John v H. Halsey, whose organization works, in part, to promote the use of local land for farming and allocates funding to make that land more affordable for farmers. “The Slow Food East End movement and the Edible Garden School program both help to instill a conservation ethic in these kids. We’re very supportive of fundraisers like this that help to promote the use of food production farmland and assure that such a valuable legacy stays with us out here.”

The American Hotel’s Joshua Levine Memorial Foundation dinner/fundraiser is currently sold out; However, there are still tickets available for the pre-dinner cocktail party which will be held at Bay Street Theater from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 24, featuring wine, hors d’oeuvres and music. A donation of $75 will secure a place at the event and reservations can be made at www.joshualevinefoundation.org.


Local Stories On Irene

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By Claire Walla

By midday last Saturday, August 27, Main Street in Sag Harbor looked almost abandoned.  Though a smattering of shoppers and diners continued to mill about, many storefronts were boarded up with plywood (a first for most), or else covered with adhesive tape.

All were preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

In the height of her projected force here on the East End, at one point Irene was expected to cut a path straight through Sag Harbor, bringing winds that topped 100 miles per hour and rains that would fetch up to 10 inches of water.  While the tropical storm didn’t quite bring the devastation many in here Sag Harbor expected, her presence on Main Street was certainly felt.  Here are some of the stories from last weekend’s tropical storm.

Schiavoni’s Market

Food has been flying off the shelves at Schiavoni’s IGA Market. Unfortunately, owner Matt Schiavoni said it’s partially been a bit of a purge.

Last Friday, customers waited in long lines behind carts piled high with enough food to get them through the storm. The market sold 50 cases of water last Thursday, and at least 100 cases on Friday, Schiavoni said.

But by Monday, Schiavoni was piling food into the dumpster out back. He even had to call in a second bin.

Without electricity in the wake of Irene, the Sag Harbor IGA lost all frozen and perishable foods, like meat and dairy products. (Judy Schiavoni even trolled Main Street on Monday handing out ice cream for any and all takers.)

When all was said and done, Schiavoni said the damage really couldn’t have been any worse. Aside from the building sustaining physical damage, which he said fortunately it didn’t, “all the damage was caused when the power went out.”

An inventory was kept of every item tossed into the dumpster and will be recorded as an insurance claim. Meats and deli items were delivered on Wednesday. And when Schiavoni’s gets its next shipment of ice cream this Friday, the store will be up-and-running, just as it was a week before.

No More D Batteries

Emporium True Value Hardware Store

In the midst of shuttered storefronts and taped-up windows, Emporium True Value Hardware was an anomaly this past weekend: it looked the same before and — thanks to milder winds than originally predicted — after Irene came to town.

But inside, in the days leading up to the storm owner Frank D’Angelo said he sold-out of “D” batteries, flashlights and radios. Business was bustling Friday morning, as dozens of shoppers looked for amenities to prepare for Irene.

“It was absolutely insane,” said an employee. “At least a dozen people were waiting outside before we opened at 7:45 a.m.”

Signs were posted in at least three locations in the store informing customers that “D” batteries were out of stock.  And employees continually informed inquisitive customers that the store was also out of flashlights.

“We’re literally selling key-chain flashlights,” the employee said. Emporium True Value was also sold out of lanterns, lamp oil, radios and 6-volt batteries.  “Those were the first to go,” he said of the 6-volts.

Anticipating a flurry of returns on unused items, the store posted a hand-drawn sign near the battery display last week informing customers that batteries could not be returned. By Tuesday this week, it had been moved to the front counter next to the register.

However, D’Angelo said the store did not see any batteries back in its midst.

“Not a single one,” he confirmed.

Our Gig Too, Taping Inside adjusted

Our Gig, Too

As she stretched beige-colored masking tape across the length of her store’s front windows last Friday, Denise O’Malley of Our Gig, Too worried about the destruction Irene might bring. She said she was headed to the store’s basement next to move all merchandise to higher ground, in anticipation of flooding.

But Irene brought little of that.

Though her store was still “half-with-half-without” power by Tuesday afternoon, all in all O’Malley said the village was lucky.

“Everyone was expecting some water to come” with the storm, she said. But, like most businesses on Main Street, she said her shop suffered little damage.

“It looks like we prepared for nothing,” she continued. But …when you think of all the disasters we’ve seen recently — like Katrina and the tsunami in Japan — it seems like anything’s possible.”

O’Malley took a moment before continuing.  “If we had a tsunami…” she trailed off for a moment more. “We’d have no place else to go.”

Harbor Heights adjusted

Harbor Heights

Last week, Harbor Heights Gas Station hit “record breaking” sales.

That was what owner John Leonard declared on Friday as a steady stream of cars flowed through the station. Thousands of East End residents flocked to gas stations across the East End to fill up their tanks as a precautionary measure in preparation for the storm.

On Friday, Leonard said his station had been so busy, in fact, that “I’ve been working here for the past two days, non-stop!”

He added that the station received two truckloads with 9,200 gallons of fuel on Saturday and Monday to replenish the station’s stock. While the Getty station on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike ran out of fuel late Thursday afternoon, Leonard said he was ready for the barrage of vehicles that remained constant at Harbor Heights through Saturday.

“We were prepared,” he affirmed. Having been through several hurricanes in Florida himself, Leonard anticipated the gas-pump rush.  “I had my orders in on Tuesday for the week.”

The end of the week saw multi-car lineups at gas stations in East Hampton and Southampton, prompting 20-minute waits in some spots and even verbal altercations between drivers.

Leonard said there had been none of that at his gas station. Though he did add that one man stirred up a bit of trouble Friday when he tried to jump the line of cars; however, the situation was abated before the gloves came off.


Still wearing her wedding gown — with a pair of orange high tops — when she arrived at the bar of The American Hotel last Saturday night, the sight of Debbie Hunekan and Carl Brandl, her tux-clad groom, was particularly surprising.

Despite the dire weather predictions, Brandl and Hunekan, who came to the hotel after tying the knot, decided to go through with their Saturday evening ceremony — which concluded just hours before the first winds set in.

“The wedding was supposed to take place on Long Beach,” Hunekan said this week.  “We called Judge Eddie Burke and he said, ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen. Long Beach is covered in water.’”

So the show moved south, to Hunekan’s mother’s house in Water Mill.

And while the couple had the perfect backdrop for a memorable occasion — they made their wedding song “Come Rain or Come Shine” and switched the evening’s cocktail to a Dark and Stormy — Brandl said the most touching part of the evening was seeing friends and family come together to keep the ceremony alive.

Friends stepped in to cater when the company they hired backed out; and, even though he had canceled all other events for Saturday, Hunekan said Steve Clark of Sperry Tents kept their wedding canopy in place for the duration of the evening.

Of their 90-or-so invited guests, 85 of them showed up.

“That made it all the more meaningful,” Brundl continued. “That they still came.”


On Monday morning, though the John Jermain Memorial Library was open for business, the light streaming through the windows of its temporary home on West Water Street was the only light patrons had to read by.

On Wednesday, director Cathy Creedon beamed at the prospect she was able to open the library so soon after the storm, and was even more pleased at the number of patrons who stocked up on books beforehand.

On Monday, Creedon pointed to the practically empty new fiction stacks and said, “It looks like the battery section of the hardware store.”

But last Friday, Creedon nervously watched as adhesive flashing was placed on the roof of the historic JJML building on Main Street in preparation of the storm. Leaks at the building have grown over the last two years. While the library nears approval to move forward with restoration and expansion, each storm that arrives before the project is completed has the potential to damage the structure further.

Before the storm, Creedon said the library also removed from the exterior of the structure scaffolding that has been in place since 2006 to protect patrons from the crumbling façade. Library staff noticed the wood holding the scaffolding in place had rotted and worried that the storm could wrench it loose, creating a hazard.

On Monday, Creedon said the dome did not appear to show signs of more leakage, however a leak in the stairwell to the third floor rotunda had grown larger and the library’s terra cotta roof was also showing signs of water infiltration, a “grave concern” for the library board.

However, on Monday, Creedon remained happy that the library was still providing service.

“We will probably close when the angle of the sun no longer shines into the building,” she said late Monday afternoon.

“Yeah, like after its dark,” library circulation director Pat Brandt added wryly.

boats packed adjusted


Usually at this time of year, the Ship Ashore Marina boat yard is a dusty expanse that curves along a few hundred feet of Sag Harbor Cove.  While boats tend to come in and out of the water at regular intervals, they’re either stored in a massive shed on the property or tied up to the dock near the shallow shore.

Hurricane Irene changed all that.

“They’re packed like sardines!” one boat-owner exclaimed last Friday as he walked through the yard.

According Gayle Pickering, whose husband Rick owns Ship Ashore Marina, boat crews pulled about one boat every 20 minutes and ultimately pulled precisely 60 boats last Thursday, August 25, bringing the total number of land-bound vessels to roughly 170.

By Wednesday of this week — after the storm brought milder conditions than originally predicted — Rick Pickering said he was exhausted.

“Everyone’s walking around with stars in their eyes!” he exclaimed, noting that he and his crew had already put 126 boats back in the water since Monday. There are approximately 14 that will stay grounded, but he said he’s still got about 25 to go until Ship Ashore is back to basics.

Vineyard Pioneer Christian Wölffer Killed in Boating Accident

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Christian Wölffer, one of the pioneers of viticulture on the South Fork, and proprietor of the vineyard and horse farm that bears his name, died in a boating accident on New Years Eve while swimming in Brazil. Wölffer, who was vacationing when he was struck by a boat, was 70. According to the Associated Press, Mr. Wölffer was struck by the propeller of the boat, opening a deep cut. He was off the beach at Paraty, a colonial town about 100 miles west of Rio de Janeiro. According to reports, he had been visiting a friend’s home and had decided to go for a swim in an area where boats are restricted within 650-feet of shore. After being struck, reports indicate Mr. Wölffer waved for help and was pulled from the water by, among others, Brazilian soap opera star Rodrigo Hilbert. The Associated Press reports police have interviewed the driver of the boat, and are considering charges.

Mr. Wölffer’s rambling 170 acres along Montauk Highway in Sagaponack is a popular landmark, with rolling fields of wine grapes. He first purchased the property in 1978 as a 14-acre parcel with a farmhouse surrounded by potato fields. By 1997, he had amassed the rest of the acreage and built a state-of-the-art winery at a cost of more than $15 million. On the property are 55 acres of vineyard and the 100-acre Wölffer Estate Stables, including an 80-stall facility with the largest indoor riding field on the East Coast.

“He was one of the few guys who came and took a big financial risk with building a winery here,” said Ted Conklin, proprietor of the American Hotel. “He hired wisely 20 years ago and continued to stand by the business model, continually investing in the winery and staff.

“Had other operators been so dedicated to their business model, the future of the wine industry on Long Island would be more highly elevated. The problem is, there are very few Christian Wölffers,” said Conklin.

Mr. Wölffer, whose careers have included investment banking, venture capital, real estate, agriculture and entertainment parks, was born in Hamburg, Germany, where, as a teenager, he began as a trainee in a bank. He later worked for an import/export company, and later with the German chemical company BASF, as a manager of their sales force in Mexico. He spent more time in Mexico, Central and South America with a firm that sold printing and packaging equipment to commercial printers and publishers worldwide.

His interest in South America apparently continued to the time of his death.

According to a blog from the Wine Spectator, Mr. Wölffer was investing in vineyards in Argentina. In an interview with the Wine Spectator’s James Molesworthy, Mr. Wölffer noted, “‘You can’t make money here doing quality,’ he said bluntly. ‘You can only make money here if you do volumes.’”

Among his investments in that country are a minor share in a winery known for sparkling wines targeted at Argentina’s domestic market and 2000 acres he was developing in Mendoza, with 740 acres already planted, and plans for a hotel.

Molesworthy’s blog also says Mr. Wölffer was planning on purchasing another Argentinian winery, and a property outside Buenos Aires for a residential, spa, golf and equestrian complex.

“Christian’s vision for what Long Island winemaking could accomplish and his passion for horses that led to the building of an elite equestrian center represents an enduring legacy which the Wölffer family is committed to uphold,” the family said in a statement released Monday.  ”We have all been blessed by Christian’s strength, his charisma, his charm, and his untiring passion to live each day to the fullest.”

The family is also committed to carrying on the operations at the estate in Sagaponack.

“The vineyard and stables are fully operational and thriving businesses,” said John Nida, general manager for the estate. “The family is fully committed to upholding Christian’s legacy and continuing the operation of the vineyard and stables. We are left with the tools to move the businesses forward.”

Mr. Wölffer is survived by his son, Marc of Palma de Mallorca, Spain; his daughter, Andrea; his daughter Joanna of New York; his daughter Georgina of New York; and seven grandchildren. Two marriages ended in divorce.
Contrary to earlier reports, Mr. Wölffer’s remains were not to be sent to Hamburg. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Visitors to the Wölffer Estate Vineyard are invited to share their condolences in a remembrance book in the tasting room.



I Don’t Think So

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The following is in response to Joseph Hanna’s column in the September 25 edition of The Sag Harbor Express

Dear Mr. Hanna:

I would like to respond to your article entitled “From the People Who Brought You Sag Harbor.” The real steering is done by individuals who do things. Doing things involves risk.

You’re absolutely right about those who took risks in Sag Harbor. However, I take umbrage to the fact that in you’re your paragraph of taking us down Main Street in 1964, your first stop is at the American Hotel referred to as a “flop house.”

My family bought the building which was the original home and shop of Nathaniel Tinker, a cabinet maker, in 1877. The times in Sag Harbor were not the best of times, especially after a fire destroyed the entire village that year.

Did my great-great-grandfather Captain William Freeman and his son-in-law, my great-grandfather Addison Youngs take a risk? You bet they did! They took a dilapidated building that was in disrepair and renovated it by installing electric lights, steam heat and state of the art plumbing to make it the finest hotel on the eastern end of Long Island. That was 1877, a year after my grandfather, William H. Youngs was born, and who lived and died at the hotel ninety-four years later.

By 1964 the hotel had seen its day and it had become more of a meeting place in the lobby where people of influence would congregate on Saturday mornings to talk about the village’s “goings on.” I know because I would sit and listen as people like the mayor and others who were friends of Will Youngs would sit and chat. It was an old Sag Harbor at its best and I was just a young college boy listening.

Was 1964 a time of concern? I guess it was; but even with my grandfather Youngs at the hotel, I was also fortunate to have my grandfather Bisgood alive and living on Howard Street. I remember the Hannas who lived down at the foot of Howard Street and, as I recall, in a house that was less than perfect.

In 1970 Will Youngs passed away and I was busy in Connecticut teaching and coaching and Sag Harbor was a thought away. In 1972 I received a call from our family attorney in Sag Harbor saying there was a young man interested in buying the hotel, and he wanted to walk through it. I called my brother-in-law and the two of us drove out on a very cold February morning. The young man waiting to walk through was Ted Conklin, and the three of us took the tour with no heat. As we walked from room to room Mr. Conklin expressed such enthusiasm and had such vision of what he thought he could do with the place we could not believe it, considering the times.

Ted bought the hotel and you’re right, much of the work done was by Ted who, with his own hands, painstakingly and with tender loving care created what today is the centerpiece of the village Main Street..

But the whole point is, he did exactly what Addison Youngs and his father-in-law did in 1877. Today Sag Harbor is what it is today because of people like Ted Conklin who had the vision of what could be.

So, Mr. Hanna, when you go into the hotel and sit at the bar, look at the name on the bar, A.M. Youngs, and think of 1877. In 1964, the Youngs had been there 87 years. The hotel indeed might have needed some work, but never was a “flop house.” And by the way, if you want to raise your glass with me at the hotel, I’ll buy.

Jack Youngs

Sag Harbor