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BANKRUPT! The Salahi's Oasis Winery Goes to Auction

Posted on Sep 14,2011
Filed Under News , Community,
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Copyright 2008 Local Kicks <br />Even Oasis Winery's stretch white limo -- if it hasn't already been repossessed -- must go.
Copyright 2008 Local Kicks
Even Oasis Winery's stretch white limo -- if it hasn't already been
repossessed -- must go.

By Don Del Rosso

HUME, VA. - At one time Tareq and Michaele Salahi were the controversial darlings of reality TV, the glamorous local couple who towed the line that it was not their fault that they were millions in debt and had crashed a State Dinner at the White House.
 
They left a trail of unpaid bills all over the region, from Hannelore's Bridal Salon in Old Town ($8,800 for the wedding gown Michaele wore at their lavish wedding) to unpaid bar and banquet bills at Alexandria hotels who would rather not speak of such things. Their debts came crashing down upon them at the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District in Alexandria in 2008 when Salahi filed for Chapter 7 under the bankruptcy code.
 

Photo by John Arundel <br />Tareq Salahi, back in his high-flying polo days.
Photo by John Arundel
Tareq Salahi, back in his high-flying polo days.

Now their beloved winery will be liquidated, to pay millions in claims from creditors.
 
Everything left behind at the defunct Oasis Vineyards near Hume must go – including 7,800 bottles of wine, a grape press, kitchen and catering equipment and a golf cart.

“It’s an absolute auction,” said Nick Arrington of N.T. Arrington Auctioneer and Appraiser of Gainesville, whose company will handle the U.S. Bankruptcy Court-ordered sale of Oasis Vineyards Inc.’s capital assets.

The auction will begin at noon, Sunday, Sept. 18, at Oasis Vineyards 14141 Hume Road.

Proceeds will be used to help pay $3.3 million in claims by 46 creditors, said trustee Kevin R. McCarthy, a Northern Virginia lawyer.

Because the auction will be a Chapter 7 liquidation sale, there will be no minimum bids required for the vineyard’s capital assets, Arrington said.

The 100-acre-plus vineyard still belongs to the Salahi family, which started the winery more than 20 years ago.

Arrington believes “there should be good interest” in the winery equipment partly because the “wine industry has exploded” in Virginia in the past decade and because of Oasis Vineyards proximity to area winery owners who might want to supplement their operations.

“You pass 15 wineries to get here,” Arrington said.

Photo by Local Kicks <br />Michaele and Tareq Salahi at a charity fundraiser in DC, 2008.
Photo by Local Kicks
Michaele and Tareq Salahi at a charity fundraiser
in DC, 2008.

Indeed, Fauquier has 25 wineries, all but one concentrated in northern Fauquier.

In 23 years in the auction business, Arrington said he’s never before handled a winery sale.

Winemaker Chris Pearmund plans to attend the auction mostly to observe.

“I’ve been involved with Oasis for 20 years, professionally,” said Pearmund, who owns Pearmund Cellars near Broad Run, Vint Hill Craft Winery and La Grange near Haymarket. “I’d like to see it.”

Despite the winery’s ignominious end, one preceded by ugly disputes among Salahi family members, who owned Oasis, the auction brings another level of closure to what had been a very successful operation, Peamund said.

In the early 1990s, Wine Spectator listed Oasis among the magazine’s top 10 sparkling wine producers, he said.

“It’s the passing of history,” he said of the auction. “Once upon a time, Oasis was a fantastic place. It represented the wine industry proudly in Virginia.”

But the winery also repeatedly ran afoul of neighbors, who frequently complained about loud noise and the steady stream of traffic that Oasis events generated.

For years, the couple Tareq and Michaele Salahi, notorious for a recent spate of publicity stunts, including crashing a 2009 White House state dinner for India’s prime minister, operated the winery.

Pearmund said “it’s possible but not likely” that he’ll buy anything at the auction.

He’d want to taste the wine before considering a purchase.

“The problem with some of the wine is it hasn’t been taken care of properly,” Pearmund said.

Wine needs an air conditioned, “temperature-controlled” environment, which the remaining Oasis inventory has lacked, he said.

Other than the wine press, Pearmund said he has no interest in the equipment for sale.

He described the equipment as idle for about four years, old, in disrepair and therefore of questionable value.

“I know the equipment and inventory very well,” he said.

But Pearmand did say there might be opportunities for startup wineries or established ones that want to expand to pick up useable equipment for less than retail prices.

Photo by John Arundel <br />Even the Secret Service could not prevent the Salahis from crashing the White House. A Secret Service agent recently told Local Kicks that the Salahis tried to get invited to a 2011 State Dinner, but failed.
Photo by John Arundel
Even the Secret Service could not prevent the
Salahis from crashing the White House. A Secret
Service agent recently told Local Kicks that the
Salahis tried to get invited to a 2011 State
Dinner, but failed.

For example, a new bottling machine might cost $100,000. At $20,000, the Oasis machine would be a good buy, Pearmund said. “But at auction, you never know what it would go for.”

Four years ago, Oasis had been on the auction block, he said. He offered $3.5 million for the real estate and the winery’s assets. One week later, the auction was cancelled, Pearmund said.

Brian Roeder, president and chief executive officer of Barrel Oak Winery near Delaplane, wants no part of the Sept. 18 auction.

“I’m not going to waste my time” attending it, Roeder said. “My understanding is that it’s totally in disrepair. The equipment’s a mess. The wine’s terrible. They’ve [the Salahis] destroyed it. There’s nothing there worth owning, at any price.”

Roeder based his assessment information from his wife, Sharon, who visited Oasis two years ago.

“She told me the place was a disgusting, dirty wreck,” Roeder said. “And I don’t think it’s changed much in two years.”

Sharon Roeder is Barrel Oak’s vice president and winemaker.

“I want nothing to do with this circus, period,” Brian Roeder said. “I want [the Salahis] to go away. I’m sad about what the family’s done to itself, but I want them to go away.”

Besides winery equipment, wine and supplies, auction items include furniture, tent heaters, a box truck, pickup truck and a front loader.

To view the items and learn about auction preview opportunities, visit http://www.arringtonauction.com

SOURCE:  The Fauquier Times-Democrat, by permission.



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