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Tareq Salahi with Prince Charles
|Born||Tareq Dirgham Salahi|
|Alma mater||University of California, Davis|
|Occupation||vintner; former public official; television personality|
|Spouse(s)||Michaele Salahi (divorced)
Lisa Spoden (2016–present)
Tareq Dirgham Salahi is an American vintner, winery owner and television personality. In 2002, he was named National Man of the Year by the national Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for his fundraising work. He later captained the US polo team. In 2006, Salahi started his reality-television career by being featured on the CW Network Where the Elite Meet. He then was a cast member of the Bravo reality show The Real Housewives of D.C..
He and his ex-wife, Michaele, gained national notoriety in November 2009 by crashing a White House state dinner in honor of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In 2010, the couple were featured in the Bravo reality television show The Real Housewives of D.C.
- 1 Family
- 2 Education
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Television and films
- 5 Oasis Winery
- 6 Celebration Retreat
- 7 Public service
- 8 Polo
- 9 White House party-crashing
- 10 Journey for the Cure Foundation
- 11 Reality television
- 12 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election
- 13 2014 Congressional election
- 14 Wine Tour and Travel Businesses
- 15 Hotels At Sea
- 16 See also
- 17 References
- 18 External links
Salahi's father, Dirgham Salahi, immigrated to the United States from Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine in the 1940s. His mother, Corinne, is from Belgium. Dirgham was educated as a petroleum geologist and worked in the Middle East and U.S. He retired and settled in Virginia, where he became owner of an estate farm, which he subsequently turned into one of the first Virginia Farm Wineries. Corinne Salahi is the founder and director of the Montessori School of Alexandria, Virginia.
Salahi attended primary school at Ascension Academy in Alexandria and high school at the Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, Virginia where he graduated in 1987. He graduated from the University of California, Davis in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in oenology and business management.
Salahi met Michaele Holt at a 2000 baby shower thrown in McLean, Virginia by real estate developer N. Casey Margenau and his wife Molly. They married in 2003 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. The reception was held at the Salahi family winery and was prepared by 46 chefs, hosted in a 36,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) tent, and culminated with a thirty-minute fireworks display and an eight-foot wedding cake. The guest list included 1,836 guests, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Margaret Heckler and numerous high profile US State Department, CIA, US Senate, US Congressional and other high profile diplomatic guests, including at the wedding US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy to quip that he needed to issue "subpoenas" to the bride and groom.
On September 13, 2011, Salahi reported Michaele missing and perhaps kidnapped after Michaele had phoned him to say that she was on her way to her mother's house, but, according to her mother, had not arrived. She was located soon afterward when law enforcement authorities discovered she had run off with Neal Schon, guitarist for the rock band Journey, and had not wanted Salahi to know where she was. Michaele had met Schon earlier and had remained in a very close friendship with him.
On September 16, 2011, Salahi filed for divorce from Michaele on the grounds of adultery and abandonment or separation. Tareq refiled the case shortly thereafter with amendments, but Michaele also filed for divorce on December 15, 2011, citing the grounds of not paying for her lavish lifestyle including hair costs exceeding $3,000 each time and constructive desertion. On December 22, 2011, Tareq responded to Michaele's divorce suit with a new filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, desertion and constructive desertion.
On August 20, 2012, Judge Dennis L. Hupp granted a final divorce decree to the Salahis following a contentious settlement proceeding. Hupp also entered a dismissal order for a $50 million personal injury  lawsuit that Tareq Salahi had filed against the entertainment company, Journey, Schon and Sonata. Hupp placed the settlement, including the divorce decree, under seal.
Television and films
Salahi has appeared on television shows and specials worldwide. His first TV Show appeared on the CW Network “Where the Elite” meet for 3 years. The epicurean television show featured programming about Polo, Food, Wine & Fashion.
In 2010 NBC Universal/Bravo reality television show cast Salahi on The Real Housewives of D.C. He went on to appear on shows and specials on HBO, E!, History and numerous outlets. also featured on NBC Saturday Live in a spoof and appeared on CBS Late Show with David Letterman.
History cast Salahi on America's Book of Secrets.
Salahi was featured in celebrity boxing match when he fought Jose Canseco on a DirecTV pay per view special in 2014.
Salahi is a long-time vintner and winery owner. He has released numerous red/white/blush wines and champagnes during a 30+ year career. His 1999 champagne was named in the “Top 10 Best Champagne and Sparkling Wines in the World” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, one of the world’s most respected wine publications.
Tareq Salahi has reopened Oasis Winery as a private custom crush operation. In early 2016 he released two new wines titled “Real Housewinos” and had the name trademark protected.
In 1977, the Salahi family founded the Oasis Winery on their estate farm in Hume, Virginia. They planted some of the first Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines in Virginia, establishing the fifth winery in Virginia. The Salahis developed the business into a 15,000-case-a-year operation, and, according to court papers, grossed as much as $1 million in annual revenue in some years. The vineyard's Meritage line won Gold Medals at the 1994 and 1996 world wine championships. In 1998, Oasis launched a Cuvee "Celebration" sparkling wine which also garnered top awards.
In 1994, they formed Oasis Vineyard Inc. and appointed Tareq managing director. Tareq eventually gained a 5% minority interest in the vineyard. According to court papers, Tareq also began operating a new business out of the vineyard, Oasis Enterprises, which was developed to raise ancillary income as a venue for polo events and other functions such as weddings. Oasis Enterprises included a limousine operation, wine country tours, and an events-and-catering business. A dispute arose amongst the Salahi family regarding business matters between Oasis Vineyard and Oasis Enterprises, and the winery started losing money. A lawsuit was filed, in which the Salahi family alleged, according to court filings, that assets were misdirected to Oasis Enterprises from the winery and that Tareq was misrepresenting himself as the President of the winery. Tareq fought the charges and made counter allegations against his parents and their lawyer. He began to seek investors to buy the property from his parents, but no deal was ever reached. The winery ceased operations, and the lawsuit was dropped without resolution.
On October 6, 2010, Dirgham Salahi died and Tareq issued a statement that read "In recent days, we have come together as a family."
In mid-2011 Tareq's wife, Michaele Salahi was sued by two different parties for fraudulently taking payment for wine tours that were never delivered. On April 23, 2012, the Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli II, filed suit against Tareqs wife, Michaele Salahi for violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act for failing to conduct tours that were purchased, failing to provide refunds for canceled tours and other companies as official partners that had relationship with her business. Soon afterwards, Tareq announced that he would run against Cucinelli in the 2013 election for Governor of Virginia.
In May 2013, the land and buildings of the former Oasis Winery was sold at auction for $1.1 million in order to satisfy creditors, marking the end of the Salahi family involvement with Oasis Winery. The buyer was undisclosed but it was later revealed that Tareq purchased back the assets and started wine productions again. Tareq's mother Corinne was the sole beneficial owner of the property at the time of sale.
In February 2014, Tareq Salahi was required to obtain a permit to continue renting out his home to short term visitors on airbnb.
Tareq Salahi opened up one of his homes as an Airbnb accommodation partner in 2013 and guests frequent the Shenandoah Wine Country home called “Celebration Retreat”.
When the local government of Warren County, Virginia, attempted to stop him from renting out his private property, Salahi sought help from both the Virginia court system and general assembly. House Bill (HB812) is still in committee at the legislature.
Tareq Salahi sat on the board of the American Task Force on Palestine, and in 2002 Tareq was named National Man of the Year by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in recognition of his fundraising achievements.
Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore appointed Tareq in 2000 to a three-year term on the Virginia Wine Board. At the conclusion of that term, Virginia Governor Mark Warner nominated Tareq as chairman of the Virginia Wine Tourism Office. Tareq was one of 15 board members of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, a "board that shapes Virginia's tourism policy", appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine in 2006. Kaine told MSNBC:
Tareq had served on the state's wine board under both Gov. Gilmore and Gov. Warner, and when his term on the wine board finished, he and the tourism board wanted him on that board because he's a great promoter—you won't be surprised to hear me say that.
During his time in office the Virginia Wineway, Loudoun Wine Trail, Blue Ridge Wineway and Virginia Wineries Alliance were created, attracting, according to a USDA study, 980,000 wine tourists to the state, of which 336,000 visited Piedmont wineries.
After the White House gatecrashing incident in 2009, Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment wrote a letter to Gov. Kaine asking for Salahi's removal from the board: "Mr. Salahi's recent outrageous behavior and personal promotion in regards to trespassing in the White House is not the face we need for Virginia tourism…I would appreciate you taking swift action to avoid any further negative situations." Salahi resigned from the Virginia Tourism Board on December 7, 2009.
Salahi is an experienced horseman who started show jumping at age eight and competed in numerous international Grand Prix events before taking up polo at 16. He was a regular competitor on the U.S. National Team and his Oasis squad won two U.S. Polo Association National Arena Titles in 1997 and 1998.
Salahi was involved with sponsoring the Courage Cup in 2006, a polo charity event to raise funds for urban youth to experience equestrian activities. A dispute over control, vendor payment, and use of proceeds from the Courage Cup reportedly led the Salahis to found the America's Polo Cup in 2007. Allegations of misuse of proceeds from the new charitable event arose, and in December 2009 the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services opened an investigation into the annual event.
The 2010 America's Polo Cup match took place on June 12 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with teams announced as United States and India. The advertised ticket price for the event was $95 per person. The event had an attendance of about 250 people, with food from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and PF Chang's China Bistro. Reports of the event stated that the players who represented India were actually of Pakistani origin and were from Florida. A spokesman for the Embassy of India stated that neither the Embassy nor the government of India had any association with the event. The event's website and the US team's uniforms identified an Indian company, Kingfisher Beer, as a sponsor. A spokesperson for Kingfisher denied that the company had sponsored the event. Yashpal Singh, the president and chief executive of Mendocino Brewing Company, Kingfisher's parent company, stated,
We are not sponsoring this event and have informed the people managing this event of that. ... We have sent legal notices to this effect, and he keeps on advertising us as a sponsor. I don't know what world he's living in.
White House party-crashing
In November 2009, Tareq and Michaele Salahi entered a state dinner despite lacking an invitation. Michaele Salahi is a member of Bravo's The Real Housewives of D.C., and the show filmed their preparations for the dinner and followed the couple to the White House. Tim Burke, who directed MTV Blaggers!, in which a group of friends gatecrash high-profile events and parties, lied and said he was contacted by Salahi a week before the White House incident. He falsely claimed Salahi asked him for advice on tricking his way into a black-tie event. Later when the United States Secret Service interviewed Mr. Burke, he admitted he was untruthful when faced with criminal charges for potential perjury to a United States Federal agent. He was discredited and MTV later terminated Mr. Burkes contract with MTV.
Following the event Salahi was requested by the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee to appear at a hearing on December 3, 2009, but he refused to attend. On December 9, 2009, the Committee on Homeland Security voted 26 to 3 to subpoena Tareq Salahi, and 27 to 2 to subpoena Michaele, for a hearing on the alleged gatecrash scheduled for January 20, 2010. The Salahis invoked the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution at the hearing. The Salahis' attorney, Stephen Best, described the Congressional inquest as "...not a hearing looking for information. This was an opportunity for a public flogging."
Journey for the Cure Foundation
In 2009, Salahi's ex-wife Michaele was listed as the director of the "Journey for the Cure Foundation" connected to the rock band Journey. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Office of Consumer Affairs issued a press release that cautioned consumers that "Journey for the Cure Foundation, 14141 Hume Road, Hume, Virginia, has solicited contributions from Virginia citizens for allegedly charitable purposes. However, as of May 13, 2009, this organization had not registered with or been granted the appropriate exempt status by the Commissioner as required by law".
On February 28, 2012, the Virginia Attorney General's office announced a settlement with Salahi, where he would pay a fine for the violations. According to the attorney general:
"Journey for the Cure claimed on its Internet web site that "proudly, 100% of our financing goes directly to find the cure and we have no paid staff." Based on bank records obtained through the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs' (OCA) investigation, the attorney general alleged that only 33% of JCF's expenditures in 2007, and 0.6% of its expenditures in 2008 went directly to disease prevention-related charities. Significant amounts were instead spent on fund raising overhead"
The attorney general's office also alleged that the charity filed inaccurate financial statement with state regulators, and solicited in Virginia from 2004 to 2009 without obtaining the proper registration. It also failed to maintain proper fiscal records and failed to provide the state with required financial information when it stopped soliciting contributions there in 2010.
Salahi's wife at the time was accused of personally violating the solicitation of contributions law by signing a notice that said the foundation was registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs when it was not, and signing a registration statement that made false claims about the foundation's financial information and history.
In the settlement agreement, Tareq Salahi agreed to pay on behalf of his wife $2,500 in civil penalties and $7,500 to compensate Virginia for attorney fees, and the Journey for the Cure organization will pay $25,000 in civil penalties.
The Salahis appeared in 2010 on the Bravo reality television show The Real Housewives of D.C.. The couple clashed with other featured cast members, and the conflicts continued after the show aired. The production was not flattering to the Salahis, and included coverage of the White House gate crashing in detail. Critics have noted that the show's producers edited the material in ways that exaggerated the truth.
2013 Virginia gubernatorial election
On April 25, 2012, Salahi announced his candidacy as a Republican for Governor of Virginia in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election. When making his announcement, Salahi stated that his candidacy would avenge a lawsuit that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, who was hoping to become the Republican gubernatorial nominee, had recently brought against him. He added that the lawsuit had made him realize the amount of taxpayer money that politicians waste. On December 4, 2012, Salahi announced the establishment of the website "Crashthevote.com" to promote his candidacy. The website stated that his platform included: Promoting the Commonwealth of Virginia; Promoting the Military, both our troops and defense workers; Increasing Jobs; Pro-Business; Pro-Tourism; Pro-Agriculture; Less Tax; Kill the Car Tax; Pro Eco-Friendly Energy Production.
On January 14, 2013, Salahi announced that he would run for governor of Virginia as an independent. He stated that he had been informed that his refusal in December to sign a pledge of support for all 2013 Republican candidates could disqualify him from the Republican nomination process. He explained that he could not "agree with anything that Cuccinelli believes in."
Salahi failed to submit the necessary signatures to the Virginia State Board of Elections by the June 11, 2013, deadline and did not appear on the ballot as an independent. He transitioned his run into a write-in campaign and said he would pursue a congressional seat if he didn't win the governorship. Salahi was also scheduled to have a film document his campaign by Campbell Media Group, but the production company faced legal allegations for targeting and scamming its film subjects.
Salahi was one of two significant declared write-in candidates for Governor, along with John Parmele, Jr., a Navy retiree. All write-in candidates received 11,087 votes, 0.49% of the total votes cast.
2014 Congressional election
In December 2013, Salahi announced that he was running in the Republican primary for Virginia's 10th congressional district in the 2014 elections, to succeed Frank Wolf, the retiring Republican incumbent. However, he withdrew from the 10th's Republican primary and switched to the Independent Greens in March 2014 to run for Virginia's 7th congressional district seat currently held by Eric Cantor. Salahi attempted to collect 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. In June 2014, Salahi submitted 2,051 signatures to the Virginia State Board of Elections, but only 480 of them were valid and he will not appear on the ballot.
Wine Tour and Travel Businesses
As of 2015, Salahi owns several Virginia-based businesses, including Connoisseur Traveler and Blue Ridge Wine Way, the latter of which made news for owing $34,000 in unpaid bills to a limo company as of January 2013. He also rents out his home on Airbnb.
Hotels At Sea
In November 2015, Salahi announced his engagement to Northern Virginia socialite and his business partner Lisa Spoden, who also serves as CEO of their joint venture, Hotels at Sea (Salahi serves as Chairman), which operates as a cruise line for companies looking to charter cruise ships. Hotels at Sea augments major sporting and other special events worldwide where there is a lack of hotel space; docking their cruise ships at the events full-time. They work with event sponsors, companies associated with events, large groups and enthusiast organizations involved in these type of major events and provide cruise ships for Corporate meetings & Conventions. The company focuses on bringing cruise ships to augment accommodations at events occurring near oceans. Public events where Hotels at Sea plan to have a presence, include the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, the World Cup of Sailing in Bermuda 2017, the World Cup of Soccer in Sochi 2018. They also provide private cruise ship charters for entertainment programs, sporting events, corporate meetings, music festivals and medical care at sea programs.
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- Errin Haines (17 January 2013). "Company founded by Tareq Salahi owes $34,000, Md.-based limo service claims". Washington Post.
- "Salahi needs permit to rent house to tourists". NVDaily.com.
- Heil, Emily (2015-11-10). "White House crasher Tareq Salahi is engaged". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
- Tareq Salahi at the Internet Movie Database
- Oasis Winery (website of Tareq Salahi)
- Oasis Winery (website of Oasis Winery)
- America's Polo Cup Washington DC June 2010
- Tareq & Michaele Salahi wedding video
- Official Guest List for White House State Dinner
- Washington Life coverage of incident and Salahis[dead link]