What's Next for Fauquier Winery: Chateau Shaq?

After family disputes, Tareq Salahi and wife Michaele want to buy Oasis, the family vineyard. But will they have to go up against Shaquille O'Neal? All could be revealed on Tuesday.
After family disputes, Tareq Salahi and wife Michaele want to buy Oasis, the family vineyard. But will they have to go up against Shaquille O'Neal? All could be revealed on Tuesday. (Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Remember "Falcon Crest," the '80s prime-time soap? There's a real-life version brewing in Fauquier County, featuring an award-winning vineyard, a family feud, backstabbing, money, sex, lawyers, polo ponies . . . and special guest star Shaquille O'Neal.

Who is the mysterious buyer vying with Tareq Salahi to buy Oasis Winery? Could it be O'Neal, said to have fallen in love with the place this summer?

Flash back to 1977, when Corinne and Dirgham Salahi bought a Hume, Va., vineyard and went into the wine biz. Tareq, their only son, grew up to marry a blond model, play polo with Prince Charles -- and turn Oasis into a magnet for oenophile socialites.

But trouble simmered beneath the bucolic surface. As Dirgham's health failed, Corinne and Tareq had a bitter falling-out over control of the winery; this past summer they asked a court-appointed overseer to step in. "Everybody was mad at everybody," said Tareq's lawyer, Paul Morrison. Court receiver Huntley Thorpe asked Tareq to manage the business, with the intent of finding a suitable buyer -- possibly Tareq himself.

But then Corinne put Oasis on the market for $6.5 million -- without her son's knowledge, claims his lawyer. Around the same time, the NBA superstar, divorcing from his wife, started making trips to the horse-country winery with assorted love interests. When a corporation called Tuscan Ventures signed a contract for Oasis, word quickly spread that Shaq was the buyer.

Was he? Tareq Salahi's wife, Michaele, told us yesterday that she and her husband sat down with O'Neal to discuss their vision for the future and left thinking he would join their bid. But O'Neal's business associate Mike Parris said that while O'Neal was very interested, it became "too complicated." Parris says Tuscan Ventures isn't Shaq; Michaele insists it is Shaq, supposedly trying to poach the vineyard from her husband.

A hearing to present potential buyers to the court is scheduled for Tuesday. Stay tuned.

J-Lo, Still Mum on the Mommy Question

Jennifer Lopez is still dancing coyly around the question of whether she and Marc Anthony are expecting, leaving it to a variety of knowledgeable insiders to deliver the news. Still awaiting official confirmation from Diddy, Jennifer Garner and the counter guy at Burger King.

* Damien Fahey, MTV host, told Us Weekly, "I've been around a lot of pregnant women. She walked around like a pregnant woman, sat like a pregnant woman and stood like a pregnant woman."

* Dayanara Torres, Anthony's ex-wife, told reporters she expects her kids will be excited to get a new step-sibling, if indeed that's what's about to happen.

* Cris Judd, J-Lo's ex-husband, told People he can't wait to meet the new baby.

* Roberto Cavalli, designer of J-Lo's concertwear, told People, "She requests something very special because she is waiting for the baby. . . . Every week she is getting bigger."

A Little Halloween Potty at the Office

Robert Brokamp, stalled at work.
Robert Brokamp, stalled at work.
Not another Larry Craig costume! It's the Halloween '07 cliche. But the fun-lovin' financial-services folks at the Motley Fool insisted that, no, the one that showed up yesterday at their Alexandria office was different. Retirement expert Robert Brokamp didn't just evoke the senator, he did the whole darned Minneapolis airport bathroom stall (played by a cardboard refrigerator box). "He sat in there for much of the day," said Fool rep Chris Hill, "just working on his laptop." (See a larger version of the photo.)

LOVE, ETC.

* Setting a date: Congressional sweeties Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who will tie the knot Dec. 15 in a small ceremony -- mostly family, we're told, probably no colleagues -- in Asheville, N.C., where her father lives.

* Turning our stomachs: The New York Post's Page Six, which reported yesterday that Lance Armstrong, 36, spent much of Monday night at a Manhattan bar making out with 21-year-old Ashley Olsen -- yes, Mary-Kate's twin, and yes, we know: Ewww.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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