As the pieces of each week’s master plan started to fall into place, Hannibal Smith, the leader of the “A Team” (a popular TV series from the 1980’s), was fond of saying, “I love it when a plan comes together.” After the huge success of the North Fork Crush, the first Wine & Artisanal Food Festival for the North Fork of Long Island organized by NY Wine Events held at Jamesport Vineyards, I’m sure that the organizers were repeating Hannibal’s words.
Their plan for the festival was a rousing success from start to finish. Though it officially started at 2pm, my group was processed a good 45 minutes before the actual starting time of the event. So, instead of waiting on line until zero hour when the doors opened, we were able to mingle around the vineyard, sip on wine, hang out at a picnic table and chat with fellow wine revelers as the vendors setup their tables. So, that was a nice touch.
While there were 500 attendees at the afternoon session, the wait at any one vendor was never longer than a few minutes. And because the event was held in an open area, there was plenty of room to spread out. As the afternoon progressed and people wandered away from the tents to other areas of the vineyard (sitting on the lawn, relaxing at the Jamesport tasting bar behind the tasting room or hanging out listening to jazz bassist Kenny Harris) the wait for wine and/or food became less and less. Another plus.
At many events the food choices are minimal, or the food runs out before the tasting is over, but at the North Fork Crush the food choices were varied and continuous. Among the highlights for me was a sampling of goat cheese from Catapano Dairy Farm, the chocolate Merlot sorbet from Frosae Wine Sorbae , Salsa di Parma from Patrizia’s Delights, an assortment of cakes from Blue Duck Bakery Café and an olive oil tasting at Vines & Branches. This was in addition to the crudities and cured meats available in both tents.
And oh yes, there was wine. I started my tasting with a trio of old favorites, the Albarino from Palmer vineyards, the Pinot Blanc from Waters Crest and the La Fontana from Raphael. Next, I decided to try some new wines. My first stop was Coffee Pot Cellars, where I had their Beasley’s Blend, a non-vintage Bordeaux Blend named after Adam and Laura’s fun-loving pug. Afterwards, I had the 2014 Pinot Blanc from Harbes Family Farm. And finally I visited Saltbird Cellars, where winemaker Robin Epperson-McCarthy proudly served up the wines from the newest North Fork winery. There I had a duo of Sauvignon Blancs and their Chardonnay. All very impressive.
Unfortunately, I had a graduation party to attend, so there was only time for a few more wines. Even though I’m a big fan of both Prosecco and Chianti, I skipped the wines from Italy (and also walked past the herb and fruit wines from the Caribbean) and decided to stick with the theme and spend my remaining time with a few more Long Island wineries. First stop was the Long Island Merlot Alliance, where I tasted a cooperative Merlot made from grapes from six different Long Island wineries. Continuing that theme, I had Merlots from Lenz and Osprey Dominion. Fittingly, I ended the day with a chat with Dean Babiar, the winemaker of Jamesport Vineyards, where I tasted their Bordeaux blend, the Melange de Trois.
All in all, a well-executed plan. Hopefully, as with a classic TV series like the A-Team, this show will live on in reruns for many years to come.