Grazers and imbibers under the tent at Mecox Farm in Bridgehampton
Long Island wine--especially tastings of the astonishing 2010 vintage--and local food created and served by some of the East End's most notable chefs were the star attractions, but it was the gathering itself that brought smiles to the huge crowds in attendance. The sense of community and cohesion wrought by the weekend-long Harvest East End events is easily the best thing that has ever been created for a wine and food community growing by leaps and bounds despite a sluggish economy and consumers still worried about their future. But none of this really mattered on this weekend--this was a time to rejoice, share gossip and laughter, learn about all things wine and food and just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
Bedell's "Gallery" Chardonnay, consistently one of Long Island's best
Virtually all of the nearly 50 Long Island wineries were represented at the Festival and some of the area's best young local restaurant chefs were on hand to personally serve oversized "bites" of their specialty dishes, most of which were made with locally sourced seafood, cheeses, vegetables, lettuces and, in at least one case, beef. How terrific is it to walk around with a generous pour of Channing Daughters' well upholstered 2010 Lagrein, McCall's rambunctious new Pinot Noir Rose and Bedell's rich and buttery "Gallery" Chardonnay while pairing it with a roasted tomato and beet soup, ricotta tartlet or fluke crudo? Some thoughtful wineries even brought small oak casks and served tastings of their 2010 vintage with a wine thief--offering a barrel-tasting experience for the uninitated.
Russell McCall poured his outstanding Pinot Noir and new "Marjorie's Rose" from the Pinot Noir grape.
Celebrated winemakers like Christopher Tracey from Channning Daughters, the inestimable Roman Roth (who is largely credited as the brainchild of Harvest East End) and Russell Hearn, star of Pellegrini and his own labels, Suhru and T'Jara and maverick Russell McCall, winemaker and pasture-raised beef purveyor, snaked through the crowded tent chatting up friends and fans and comparing notes with chefs like The Riverhead Project's Greg Ling, Southfork Kitchen's Joe Isidori, Noah's Noah Schwartz and rock & roll chef and East End elder statesman Tom Schaudel, among many others.
TRP's Greg Ling, a young chef who has winning ways with seafood and heirloom tomatoes.
Egos were checked at the door as everyone celebrated the landmark 2010 vintage and the bounty of sustainable local food sources popping up on the East End like mushrooms in a cow pasture on a dewy morning. Perhaps best of all, the the live auction of Long Island wines and "experiences" raised $31,000 for charities such as East End Hospice, Group for the East End and the Peconic Land Trust.
The Suhru (acronym for Sue and Russell Hearn) bottlings showed the great variety in wines made on Long Island
Seeing everyone gathered in one place and catching up, feeling good about being part of something truly special in some small way made this writer proud to call the East End home, at harvest time and throughout the calendar year.