LI Wine Country Bounty and a History of Harvest East End

Long Island wine will be flowing on August 23 at the annual Harvest East End. Though this is the first year that Harvest East End and Dan’s Papers have entered into a partnership, the event is celebrating its fifth anniversary. And, much like Long Island Wine Country, it’s only gotten better with age.

Largely the brainchild of Wölffer Estate Vineyard winemaker Roman Roth, the inaugural Harvest East End took place in September 2010 at Wölffer Estate’s horse farm property in Bridgehampton. A charity-minded event since its inception, money raised that year went to the Peconic Land Trust and East End Hospice.

“Every great wine region needs a great wine festival,” says Roth of his inspiration for starting Harvest, citing the celebratory mood of the wine festivals in his native Germany as what he wanted to emulate. The 2010 event was a weekend of wine-related events, with 10 dinners held at private locations throughout the East End, each hosted by an East End winemaker and a regional chef; programs on wine-making and tasting; and a culminating gala dinner and live auction of Long Island wines. Now, the event has matured into one evening that underscores all of the highlights of the region.

“We started off trying to copy great wine events—10-mile dinners, dancing, a tasting beforehand, the greatest wine event you can make,” explains Roth. “But the East End has its own unique dynamic that we addressed by making one beautiful event. Long Island is different than other wine regions. [Going to a single evening event] is what people really enjoy. And, they can easily immerse themselves in the wine country by visiting all the vineyards. [A weekend-long] event is not requested or required.”

Harvest first became a single-day festival last year, wherein attendees are able to experience and explore numerous facets of the industry, learning and tasting what exactly makes Long Island Wine Country unique. More than 40 winemakers and 30 top regional restaurants from across the two forks will be on hand.

“The highlight of Harvest is that you can meet every winemaker,” Roth adds. “It’s a boutique industry, really hands-on. [The winemakers] will be out here, behind their tables, pouring wines, walking around, talking. There’s an energy to the room.”

This year, Long Island winemakers will be bringing library wine. “It’s like a pedigree,” says Roth. “It will show that we can make wines that age, [which is] an important goal in the wines we make that sets us apart from the more commercial wines being made.”

Since its inception in 2010, Harvest East End has raised $153,000 for charity. This year’s event will benefit the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Foundation and Peconic Land Trust. Harvest will honor Chef Tom Schaudel and food and wine critic Florence Fabricant. Schaudel is the executive chef of aMano in Mattituck, A Lure in Southold and, his latest venture, the Petulant Wino in Aquebogue.

Though the event was held on the South Fork in 2011 and 2012, this is the second consecutive year that Harvest will be held at McCall, which was voted the 2013 New York Winery of the Year by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. While Roth could see the event coming back to the South Fork, he enjoys that it celebrates Long Island Wine Country, and is not specific to one fork.

“If it were up to me, [the whole region] would just be called the East End of Long Island, not the Hamptons and North Fork,” says Roth, emphasizing that there is a spirit of community that reaches over both forks. “There’s no rivalry… Well, only a friendly rivalry,” he muses.

Dan’s Harvest East End is on August 23 at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue. For tickets and more information, visit DansHarvestEastEnd.com.

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