Snag Your Ticket for Wine Country Celebration

The last weekend of August, just before Labor Day, is already the hottest weekend of the summer, says Wölffer Estate winemaker Roman Roth. But it just got hotter.

In an evolution, HARVEST East End will now be holding its annual wine and food festival on the grounds of the popular (and swanky) Hampton Classic horse show in Bridgehampton. In past years the Hampton Classic—which has existed in some form since 1900, and today draws crowds of up to 50,000 people—featured Long Island wine as part of a Wine and Food Classic that was discontinued. But now that emphasis on local food and drink for the horse-watching crowds will return.

“It’s a magnificent set-up,” says Roth, who is chair of HARVEST. “The foundation is laid to help us reach our potential,” in terms of exposure for the local wine region and fund-raising for local charities. HARVEST, a fund-raiser for East End Hospice, the Peconic Land Trust and the Group for the East End, is produced by Merliance, formerly the Long Island Merlot Alliance, and the Long Island Wine Council, and showcases the wine of the members of the wine council and the food of East End restaurants. It’s the only event of its kind on the East End, a rare chance to taste from dozens of wineries in one place.

In addition to the change in venue, the format of this year’s HARVEST is different. The popular 10-mile dinners—prepared by selected local chefs with ingredients from very nearby and served in intimate home settings—will still be held, but the wine salons have been dropped as well as the sit-down dinner. The walk-around tasting of wines and dishes from local restaurants—the crown jewel of the event, which sold out last year—has been expanded to accommodate even more attendees.

And although the majority of wineries are on the North Fork, Donnell Brown Stires, executive director of Merliance, says the South Fork exposure is going to be great.

“There are still people who don’t know wine is being made on Long Island,”  says. “I think it’s going to be a really positive thing.”

Shanette Cohen, executive director of the Hampton Classic agrees. “We’re thrilled,” she says. “It’s a nice opportunity for our patrons, who would not typically make the trip to the North Fork in the summer.” Also new this year is the event’s media sponsor, yours truly, Edible East End. “It always strikes me,” says Brown Stires, “how the event and the magazine are mirror images of each other. Leafing through the magazine is like walking around the event’s tasting, and vice versa.”

HARVEST will be held Saturday, August 25, from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $125, after August 11 they are $150. VIP tickets are $250, and for those ticket holders the gates open at 5 p.m.

Last year the event raised $31,000 for the charities.