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The visual essay features old and new photos that illustrate the evolution of the North Fork’s winemaking industry. (Credit: David Benthal for Southold Historical Society)

While reveling in your favorite North Fork red or white it’s easy to forget how the vintage came to be.

Sure there’s the vines and the fruit, but the enjoyment can ultimately be credited to field laborers and winemakers who bring that grape to glass. Their process is the modern-day application of a decades-long legacy of winemaking on the North Fork.

On Wednesday, January 17, the Southold Historical Society will explore that rich history during a gathering aimed at developing a visual essay illustrating the evolution of the East End wine industry from the early days to today. More than 50 photos will be selected for inclusion.

“We want visitors to understand the wine industry beyond just going to a wine tasting,” said Karen Lund Rooney, executive director of the Southold Historical Society. “We want people to understand that it’s not possible without the work done in the fields.”

(Credit: David Benthal for Southold Historical Society)

Vineyard owners, historical society members, academics and everyday members of the community will be on hand to share relevant memories, anecdotes and insights into the industry’s past, present and future. The interactive effort is a part of the society’s renewed mission to engage the community through its history while keeping the future in mind.

“It’s about how the historical society can support the community in learning about its culture, but it has to also be a conversation about the future and how the wine industry has influenced how we identify [as North Forkers],” she said.

The visual essay was made possible through a $2,500 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. The funds allowed the society to hire local photographer and frequent northforker contributor David Benthal to capture the wineries through his lens. His work will complement the historic photos used in the visual essay.

The free event begins at 6 p.m. at the Ann Currie-Bell House at 55200 Main Road in Southold. Registration is required. Call 631-765-5000 or email [email protected] to sign up. The evening includes a light complimentary dinner.

Can’t make it to Wednesday’s event? The visual essay will be exhibited at the Ann Currie-Bell House from June through October.

(Credit: David Benthal for Southold Historical Society)