For the fourth consecutive year, the East End’s top chefs and personnel from the finest vineyards will gather in one place for an evening of food, wine and charity.
And for the first time, the event will be held in its rightful place: the North Fork.
As part of the Long Island Wine Council’s ongoing celebration of the local wine region’s 40th anniversary, Harvest East End, the area’s premier tasting event, will skip over the Peconic Bay from the South Fork this weekend to Cutchogue. The event, organized by the wine council and sponsored by Wine Enthusiast magazine with support from Merliance, the Long Island Merlot Alliance, will run from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at McCall Wines on Main Road this Saturday, Aug. 24.
About 1,500 people are expected to attend.
“It’s really going to be a special celebration for the region,” said Steven Bate, executive director of the wine council. “The set-up this year is wonderful. It’s really going to be a lot of fun.”
Event chairman Ron Goerler Jr., owner of Jamesport Vineyards and current wine council president, said the move to the North Fork is a great way to honor the pioneers who put Long Island Wine Country on the map back in 1973.
“We are still a very young industry, and what I like to see is that there’s still growth,” Mr. Goerler said. “Even in a down-turned economy people are still investing in this area and that’s exciting.”
This year, Harvest East End will feature tastings of current wine releases and samples of not-yet-released varieties from 42 East End wineries. And 30 top local chefs will prepare dishes incorporating flavors and ingredients from the region’s farmers, fishermen, cheesemakers and other food artisans. A complete list of participants can be viewed at harvesteastend.com/festival-tasting.
“I don’t think there’s any other event out here where you can go to taste 40-plus vineyards at one time,” said event planner Lisa Furst of Agency 21 Consulting.
Last year’s event, which took place during the Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, raised more than $45,000 for its beneficiaries: East End Hospice, Group for the East End and Peconic Land Trust. This year’s proceeds will benefit those organizations again, along with the Long Island Farm Bureau.
“It’s great that they have decided to include us,” said farm bureau executive director Joe Gergela. “We’re going to target this funding for the purpose of helping the next generation coming along in the industry.”
The other beneficiaries are happy to share.
“It’s a worthy organization to split the pot with,” said Aaron Virgin, vice president of Group for the East End. “The local food purveyors, chefs and winemakers are allies in East End agriculture and it makes sense to help the next generation of farmers.”
Since the event was launched in 2010, more than $137,000 has been raised for the nonprofits, according to the Long Island Wine Council.
Tickets for the event are $150 per person for the general admission tasting, which runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
A VIP tasting option, known as the “Vin-IP experience,” presented by Lincoln Motor Company, costs $250. It offers wine aficionados, collectors and connoisseurs a richer experience, including early entrance at 6 p.m. Guests will be greeted with sparking wine and offered exclusive access to a Library Lounge, where older vintages and special selections will be served. Early entrance also offers a more private experience with winemakers and the region’s best chefs, Ms. Furst said.
McCall Wines owner Russ McCall is excited to host his peers this weekend.
“I’m delighted to host it,” said Mr. McCall, whose vineyard was named Winery of the Year at last week’s 2013 New York Wine & Food Classic. “Luckily we have a big farm with 100 acres. We’re hoping to raise lots of money for these four charities. It’s an opportunity to give back to the community.”
With Cyndi Murray and Rachel Young