Changes in store for Long Island’s annual wine gala

Big changes are at hand for Harvest East End, Long Island’s biggest annual wine event.

Edible East End, the regional foodie magazine, has signed on as presenting sponsor, the event has been moved up from mid-September to late August and the location has been moved to the site of the Hampton Classic horse show in Bridgehampton. Moreover, a big-ticket sit-down dinner and auction is gone and a VIP sparking wine reception and raw bar will be added.

Edible East End replaces Food & Wine magazine as the presenting sponsor of the event, which last year attracted 500 wine aficionados to the Ludlow Farm in Bridgehampton.

“We parted ways amicably with Food & Wine—a great publication with a full plate of great events,” said Donnell Brown Stires, event director for Harvest East End and Executive Director of Merliance, a merlot producers trade group that is one of the event’s sponsors. “Their forte is more ambitious multi-day events. As a single-day, walk-around tasting, Harvest just doesn’t fit into their portfolio this year.”

“Edible East End is the perfect partner for Harvest East End,”  event chair Roman Roth, said in a statement. Roth, executive vice president of Merliance, winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyard and owner of the Grapes of Roth, added, “The magazine celebrates local, seasonal wine and food, and the people who produce them, in the same way that Harvest does: in a thoughtful, elegant venue. Edible publishers Brian Halweil and Stephen Munshin have been supportive of Harvest from the event’s inception, and we are delighted that they will take on a larger role.”

Edible East End will be joined in promoting the event by its siblings, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn.

Last year’s Harvest event featured 28 Long Island wineries and 18 restaurants. Organizers said they anticipate the 2012 event will draw as many as 40 East End wine producers and 30 regional chefs.

Brown Stires said the organizers are considering doing a luxury raffle with prizes similar to the lots included in previous live auctions, such as vacations and luxe wine sets, but no decision has been made.

The vinous celebration, organized by the Merliance and the Long Island Wine Council, benefits East End Hospice, Group for the East End and the Peconic Land Trust. Last year, $31,000 was raised for the three charities.

Roth noted that Harvest East End and the equestrian show both draw a well-heeled crowd. The latter, the country’s largest hunter/jumper horse show, draws about 50,000 people over the course of a week.

“We hope to turn the heads of people who may come to The Hamptons without even realizing there’s a world-class wine region surrounding it. It’s a terrific opportunity for us,” Brown Stires said.

In 1990, Wine Spectator working with the wine council organized the first-ever Long Island wine industry gala, a barrel-tasting and barbecue, which drew 600 guests to the former Hargrave Vineyard in Cutchogue in its first year.  Each year, the location shifted to a different vineyard and at its peak the event attracted 1,500 guests. The event was discontinued after 1997, due to county health department concerns about food service at the event. A group of wineries held a joint barrel tasting in 2001, but some wineries balked at the $5,000 entry fee.

In 2003, Wine Spectator organized a new event, called the Long Island Wine Classic and held in conjunction with the Long Island Classic. It was attended by 750 people. It was repeated in 2004.

 

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