Long Island vintner Christian Wölffer has died in a swimming accident in Brazilian waters.

The accident occurred on New Year’s Eve, 31 December, near Paraty, a town about 100 miles west of Rio de Janeiro.

Wölffer, 70, established Wölffer Estate Vineyard, a leading Long Island, New York, vineyard and winery.

He was struck by a motorboat while vacationing, said Roman Roth, Wölffer Estate’s winemaker and technical director.

The German-born and socially prominent Wölffer founded the 55-acre property in 1988, calling it Sagpond Vineyards, partly for its location in Sagaponack, a hamlet on eastern Long Island’s South Fork.

A 16,000-case boutique, the winery’s 2000 Premier Cru, a deluxe Merlot, was priced at $100, setting a record for the costliest Long Island wine.

In 1997, when the winery building was opened, the property was renamed Wölffer Estate Vineyard. With exterior ochre stucco walls and interior terracotta floors designed to resemble Tuscan architecture, the winery is regarded as one of the classiest on Long Island.

Wölffer leaves a son and daughter from his first marriage, two daughters from his second marriage, and his grandchildren.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York