08/21/16 10:36am
The crowd at Dan's Harvest East End. (Credit: Madison Fender photos)

The crowd at Dan’s Harvest East End. (Credit: Madison Fender photos)

The crowd was dense and the wine flowed freely at the 7th annual Dan’s Harvest East End Saturday night at McCall Vineyards and Ranch in Cutchogue.

Food and wine lovers came together at this annual celebration to sample the best of the North and South forks. More than two dozen wineries were on hand to pour their wines, while over 30 of the region’s best chefs and food purveyors served up samples of their specialities.

The party was once again organized by Dan’s Papers and the Long Island Wine Council and the Food Network’s Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian served as host for the second year in a row. (more…)

08/19/16 10:09am
Dan's Harvest East End will once again be held at McCall Vineyards and Ranch in Cutchogue. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file photo)

Dan’s Harvest East End will once again be held at McCall Vineyards and Ranch in Cutchogue. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file photo)

This Saturday evening, Aug. 20, at 7:30 (or 6:30 if you splurge for the VIP ticket), McCall Wines in Cutchogue will host Dan’s Harvest East End, organized by Dan’s Papers and Long Island Wine Council. Part of the proceeds will benefit Long Island Farm Bureau and HRHCare, two worthy causes.

These types of events are a lot of fun. There’s a lot of wine, a lot of food and it’s always good to see so many of the “Who’s Who” in the local culinary and wine world. But as someone who tends to eschew large crowds, who also likes to taste wine in a slightly more controlled setting, they aren’t my favorite things in the world. With so many food vendors and revelers doused in perfume and cologne, it’s difficult for me to taste the wines as well as I’d like. Some writers are far better at it than I am, admittedly. (more…)

08/10/16 5:27am
The crowd at Harvest East End, held again at McCall Wines in Cutchogue. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

The crowd at Harvest East End, held at McCall Wines in Cutchogue in 2015. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Celebrate the bounty of the North and South Forks at the 7th Annual Dan’s Harvest East Endat McCall Vineyards and Ranch in Cutchogue on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

Organized by Dan’s Papers and the Long Island Wine Council, this popular late summer wine and foodie event showcases the region’s wines, chefs and food purveyors. (more…)

05/14/16 6:00am
Our Lenn Thompson says that when it comes to making changes to the Long Island wine region, the industry should show, don't tell. (Credit: Randee Daddona for northforker)

Our Lenn Thompson says that when it comes to making changes to the Long Island wine region, the industry should show, don’t tell. (Credit: Randee Daddona for northforker)

The internet is a place of quick judgments and irrational over-reaction. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that when the Long Island Wine Council, led by executive director Steve Bate and marketing director Ali Tuthill, met with the Southold Town Board to discuss some recommended changes to how local wineries operate, people lost their minds. Lost. Their. Minds. (more…)

04/19/16 2:09pm
A tasting flight. (Credit: Randee Daddona for northforker)

A tasting flight. (Credit: Randee Daddona for northforker)

Tastings limited to one-ounce pours and mandatory reservations for groups of six or more could become new standards at wineries across the region.

The Long Island Wine Council presented the suggestions, developed by a committee of 15 member wineries, at the Southold Town Board’s Tuesday work session.

The council, which hired marketing director Ali Tuthill last year, is undertaking a branding initiative to promote the region as a premier wine destination. Primarily, that means a shift from agritainment-centered business models — think large concerts and festivals — to a renewed focus on wine education at its 43 member wineries.

Tuthill and Wine Council executive director Steve Bate appeared before the board to present the recommendations.

“We’re going back to our roots,” Tuthill said. “This is taking a pause and taking a hard look at our industry.”

Enacting uniform policies among its members is one way the council feels it can help elevate the region’s image. It hopes doing so will ultimately lead to bigger profits for wineries.

The council has hired a public relations firm, Hanna Lee Communications, to help spread its message. It has also worked with Hospitality Quotient, a consulting business associated with restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, to develop the new recommendations.

“I think there will be a thread between all of us,” said Juan Micieli-Martinez, winemaker and general manager at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. “I don’t know if in the past there’s been this thread.”

Micieli-Martinez said Martha Clara has already implemented some of the council committee’s suggestions. Notably, it no longer hosts live music on weekends.

“The focus will be on the great wines we are producing as a region and the great service that will be offered by our fantastic, well-trained tasting room personnel,” Micieli-Martinez said.

As for the council’s proposed reservation policy, Tuthill told the Town Board that an unexpected group of visitors can overwhelm tasting room staff, making the experience less educational for other guests.

“It can really turn a nice day sour,” she said.

Other policies proposed by the council include providing customer service training for tasting room staffers, prohibiting the on-site consumption of food from outside establishments and setting a standard price for wine tastings. They also recommended phasing out the practice of allowing customers to consume bottles of wine on-site.

On Tuesday, some Town Board members expressed support for the recommendations.

“Anything we can do to help, let us know,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell told Tuthill.

Councilman Jim Dinizio described the suggestions as an opportunity to return to the North Fork wine industry’s roots, which he described as “wine, cheese, crackers and maybe a guitar player.”

“To me, it’s not a change but a welcome step back,” he said.

vchinese@timesreview.com

Clarification: The proposed changes are recommendations and not binding policies the wineries are forced to adapt. It will be up to the individual businesses to decided which changes to pursue