2010 will mark the year that the East End started two traditions to celebrate the region’s emerging (though many will say eternal) status as a food and wine destination.
Over the weekend of June 25, winemakers and food artisans will assemble for the inaugural Long Island Wine & Food Festival, intended-like similar festivals in Aspen and Hilton Head-to lure visitors to the area. “It’s something the region has been discussing for awhile,” says Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue, the event’s main organizer, supporter, spokesman and champion. Following a kick-off reception at Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead, wineries will offer classes, pairings and book signings. On Sunday a grand tasting, with participants from 50 wineries and dozens of restaurants and food makers, will be held in Mitchell Park in Greenport. Bed-and breakfasts are offering discount packages, restaurants are devising their own promotions, such as forgoing a corkage fee for local wine. Visit www.longislandwineandfoodfestival.com for more information and tickets.
Meanwhile, on the South Fork, organizers are crafting a twoday spectacular that will include a series of 10-mile dinners in private homes or on yachts and the region’s first-ever wine auction to benefit the Peconic Land Trust and East End Hospice. Organized by the Long Island Merlot Alliance and the Long Island Wine Council, the event, on September 24 and 25, kicks off with Saturday-morning wine salon seminars.
That evening’s Festival Tasting at Wölffer Estate in Sagaponack will host 800 guests and offer local wines and wine-friendly selections from 12 East End restaurants, paired with dozens of farmers, fishers and other food makers.
The most wine-interested guests, including many collectors due to come out from New York City and points beyond, will stick around for a dinner-prepared by chef Keith Luce of Jedediah Hawkins Inn and the husband-and-wife team of Gerry Hayden and
Claudia Fleming, owners at North Fork Table and Inn in Southold-followed by a live auction of unusual and rare bottles of Long Island wines, as well as particularly dramatic (and pricey) half barrels of merlot. “Look at Bordeaux, Napa and other regions, and auctions are a key part of sharing wines with the world,” says co-creator Roman Roth, winemaker at Wölffer. “And they are very fun.” Tickets, available at www.harvesteastend.com, start at $125 for the Festival Tasting and go to $300 for a Saturday pass that includes one seminar, the tasting and the dinner.