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Grapes ripening at Clovis Point vineyard in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file photo)
Grapes ripening at Clovis Point vineyard in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file photo)

As tough as this winter has been, between icicles and snowdrifts the East End’s wine and music fanciers have had numerous alluring opportunities to venture out to enjoy a wide variety of concerts staged by Winterfest: Live on the Vine.

Now in its ninth season, this collaborative effort between East End Arts, the Long Island Wine Council and Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau (with support from Suffolk County and title sponsor Suffolk County National Bank) has expanded its offerings to include jazz, blues, world, singer-songwriter, soul, bluegrass, jam and country music.

This weekend is Winterfest’s last. Barring an unwarranted rogue blizzard, you may choose from concerts at eight wineries on Saturday and six on Sunday, with others at venues ranging from ALure Restaurant to the Long Island Aquarium, Hotel Indigo and Bay Street Theater. Wouldn’t David Clark’s tribute to Billy Joel go nicely with a fine glass of merlot at Bedell Cellars? How about rollicking good music from everyone’s favorite, Gene Casey, at Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue? While you’re there, pick up honeyed treats made by Blossom Meadow’s beekeeper, Laura Klahre.

All of Winterfest’s events are posted on its website, liwinterfest.com.

If you are unmotivated to move but still seek entertainment, check out one of my favorite websites: winebusiness.com. Not interested in the business of wine, you say? Ah, but this site has links to so much more than the dull announcements of who’s been promoted at Demptos or who’s got used tanks for sale. Let’s explore a few stories from this site:

There’s a photo of a guy funneling feed down the throat of a goose with the headline, “Animal rights groups can sue Napa restaurant over foie gras.” After California passed a law prohibiting the manufacture or sale of foie gras in 2012, chef/managing partner Ken Frank of La Toque restaurant protested the ruling by serving the delicacy “for free” as part of an $80 tasting menu. So the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent a spy to dine there three times, then sued to halt the servings. The chef claims he’s “protesting the law, not breaking it,” and described his menu choice as “my way of dumping tea in the harbor.”

In another report, we learn that Gallo Wines wants to settle out of court with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which has charged Gallo of “intentional or negligent disposal of hazardous waste,” failure to properly label waste storage containers, failure to adequately train staff in waste management and failure to “adequately notify” the DTSC about six fires and explosions at the facility between 2006 and 2011.

Less explosively, bud break was reported to be three weeks premature in parts of California in early March, leaving tender shoots susceptible to spring frosts. Growers have sprinklers, smudge pots and fans ready, but have seen some vines “fried” by frost. (Bud break on Long Island is usually the first week of May.)

In England, wine critic Tim Atkin takes Bordeaux producers to task for showing raw, unfinished wines to the market “en primeur” (as wine futures). He criticizes the traditional practice as “ridiculous” and “out of touch,” recommending that producers wait five years before marketing such “backward” barrels.

In Australia, wine critic “Champagne Jayne” has been sued for copyright infringement by the CIVC (Champagne’s inter-professional organization), which claims she writes about sparkling wines other than Champagne. Really, Jayne, what were you thinking?

Also champagne-related is the news that one of the top salesman at giant wine and “booze” distributor Southern Wine and Spirits dumped out bottles of Laurent Perrier Rosé at the Hustler’s Club as a stripper clutched his crotch. He was protesting the brand’s abandoning his company for another distributor, Winebow.

Who knew champagne was such a hot topic?

Trying to make its own brand of wine “more hip,” the Split Rail winery in Nampa, Idaho, is bottling its wine in beer cans. They call their new product Strange Folk.

In Portland, Oregon, there is no shortage of either litigious or strange folk. There, a woman is suing Enzo’s Café Italiano, asking $100,000 for “rude service.” She had reserved a table for two on Valentine’s Day, but showed up alone, explaining that her husband “decided not to go because he was still full from lunch.” When the busy restaurant staff asked her to move to the bar, she exited in a huff without paying for the two glasses of wine she had consumed. So “devastated she cried for a day,” she wants a public apology along with her $100,000.

See? There’s plenty of entertainment in the wine world. Even without cat videos.

Ms. Hargrave was a founder of the Long Island wine industry in 1973. She is currently a freelance writer and consultant.

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