According to her official website, the 1971 song “Anticipation” was written by Carly Simon while she waiting for Cat Stevens to pick her up for a date. It was also famously used by Heinz Ketchup in the late 1970’s and early 80’s in television commercials that showed happy diners watching the ketchup slowly oozing out of the bottle. The song, or at least the title, expresses my mood in the days leading up to the annual east end wine and food festival. Who will be there? Will there be any new wines released at the festival? Any interesting library wines in the VIP lounge? And what barrel tastings of soon-to-be-released wines will be featured. So, I thought I would do a little investigative reporting to see if I could get a scoop on the wine end of the festival.
But first, a few words about the event. As was the case last year, Dan’s Papers is organizing the Harvest East End, which is the 7th annual festival and is the final event in the Dan’s Taste of summer series. And like last year, it is being held at McCall Vineyards and Ranch in Cutchogue. Perusing the lineup listed on the event’s website, I counted about 30 wineries and 25 restaurants. (This is a food festival, not just a wine festival.) While the wineries cover the length and breadth of Long Island (from One Woman in Southold to Brooklyn Oenology in Williamsburg Brooklyn) the restaurants are mostly from the East End.
And now to the results of my investigation. The first person I contacted was Rich Olsen-Harbich, the winemaker at Bedell Cellars. I asked him if there would be any exciting wines being poured from Bedell Cellars. He admitted that they haven’t finalized the exact list of what they will be pouring, but reminded me that “all my wines are exciting.” True enough, Rich has been making great wine on Long Island for some 30 years. OK. Let’s try it again. When I talked to Juan Micieli-Martinez, the winemaker and general manager at Martha Clara, I revised my question a bit and asked him if they would be pouring anything unusual or rare. Again I struck out. Juan informed me that while they would be pouring some great wines at the event there was nothing unusual or rare. The regular wine list offered in the tasting room features many top flight wines, many of which they will be pouring. So, while his statement was not exactly earth shattering news, it was an accurate account. Twenty-five years ago, having a tasting of world class wines from Long Island would have been considered both unusual and rare. But a lot has changed in twenty-five years and great wines are pretty much the status quo. The response from Zander Hargrave, the winemaker at Pellegrini Vineyards, was pretty much the same. “We are always trying to feature something great.” A Mike Wallace I’m not.
A change of tactics. When I spoke to Dean Barbiar, the winemaker at Jamesport Vineyards, I asked him if there be any new releases at the Harvest Festival. This time I struck pay dirt. “We will pour the 2015 Cinq Blanc which is being released this week. It’s the first year the Albariño was harvested and used in the blend”. Being a big fan of the Albariño from Palmer Vineyards, I found this news quite exciting. Adam Suprenant, the winemaker at both Osprey’s Dominion and Coffee Pot Cellars, confided that they will be pouring a sneak peak of the 2013 Meritage from Coffee Pot. Laura Klahre, Adam’s wife and the tasting room manager at Coffee Pot, added that they will also be pouring the 2010 Meritage in the VIP lounge. Not exactly in the same class as Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward uncovering the Watergate Scandal, but for a lover of Long Island wines these revelations were headline news.
Gabriella Purita the General Manager at One Woman Wines & Vineyards stated that “Harvest East End is such a great event because it brings together everything that the North Fork is about in one of the most North Fork of environments – The McCall Ranch, which showcases the land that provides us with the bounty of food and wine we are so lucky to enjoy here on the North Fork.” Most reporters would keep at, hounding people for more details. But I had a couple of interesting tidbits about wines being served and a nice quote to end my report. So, I was done. Time to sit back with a glass of wine (Long Island, of course) and ponder with anticipation the upcoming festival. As I sipped my wine and thought about the current status of Long Island wine, I was reminded of another Carly Simon song which seemed equally appropriate: “Nobody Does it Better.”