Dan’s Harvest East End gathered together a who’s who of Long Island winemakers and top local chefs at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue on Saturday night, and one of the biggest fans of eating and drinking local in all of New York State was there to toast the festivities: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
With a crowd of guests and media gathered under the soaring tent at McCall, Cuomo spoke glowingly about the increase in the number of vineyards across the state, the thousands of job that new vineyards have created, the rise in tourism dollars driven by our food-and-wine industry, and the world-class level of wines. He also turned a statewide spotlight on Long Island Wine as the award for the New York Wine & Food Classic Winery of the Year was presented to Macari Vineyards.
“This is a great event,” said Cuomo, who was upstate earlier in the day filming a fishing event with ESPN, then hosted the 2014 Long Island Wine and Craft Beverage Tour, which made stops at local wineries and, of course, Dan’s Harvest East End. “We wanted to come down here to present the Winery of the Year Award since the winner is from the North Fork. Winning Winery of the Year is a really big deal, and its great to be able to do it at this event.”
Other Long Island wine winners include Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard’s Cheval Bleu (Best Dessert Wine): Wolffer Estate 2013 Grandiose Rosé (Best Rosé Wine), Martha Clara 2012 Chardonnay (Best White Wine), Sparkling Pointe 2005 Brut Selection (Best Sparkling Wine) and Macari 2010 Cabernet Franc (Best Red Wine)—the last two were also named “Best New York” at the Classic. Cuomo wouldn’t pick a favorite wine from the island, or the state (smart politics there, Mr. Governor), but he didn’t even blink when asked the red-or-white preference. “I’m a red man,” he said.
Dan’s Harvest East End, which raised funds for the Long Island Farm Bureau and Peconic Land Trust, also honored chef Tom Schaudel and New York Times food writer Florence Fabricant during the festivities. The two set a convivial mood while receiving their awards, as Fabricant expressed her longtime appreciation of Long Island Wine (and offered good-natured apologies to Dan’s Papers while giving her shout-out to the Times), and Schaudel wondered aloud if he was recognized because of all the support he’s shown Long Island wine or all the Long Island wine he’s consumed over the years.
Schaudel’s restaurants Alure Chowder House and Oyster-IA, aMano Osteria and Wine Bar, Jewel and Petulant Wino joined some 30 others in wowing the culinary crowd with tastings that showcased local bounty and gastronomic creativity. Master Purveyors grilled up steak and lamb and poured perfectly paired wines right alongside their servings. Love Lane Kitchen’s Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup delivered a perfect comfort food for the wine-tasting set. SCGP Café from Stony Brook University doughnuts, one variety a decidedly grown-up take on the jelly variety, oozing a jelly made with of Jamesport Vineyards wine. A long line was not disappointed by the made-right-before-your-eyes red-corn tortillas and zesty guacamole of Brooklyn’s Taco Santo. Noah’s shucked Pipes Cove oysters, Jamesport Manor Inn dished out Peconic Bay Clam & Jamesport Corn Fritters…the lineup was a true gastronomic delight.
As a celebration of the best the East End has to offer, Harvest East End has grown over its five-year run to become the premier food-and-wine event on the North Fork, a reflection of the overall growth in local winemaking, farming, fishing and locavore culture that Cuomo has been a strong proponent of since taking office. For wineries, he’s impressed by and proud of “the growth of all of it—the 50% increase in vineyards, the quality,” he said, as more than 150 Long Island wines were being poured and tasted mere feet away. “But also it’s not just vineyards. It’s breweries, its cideries, it’s the whole industry. With the tourism and the people and the interest that it brings, that’s a great thing.”