Last weekend was the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival. One of the signature events, the Grand Tasting continues to get better and better with each year.
Now in its ninth year, the new location, the expansive Grand Lawn at the Harbor View Hotel, was close to perfection. The weather was gorgeous, a perfect Fall day with the sun shining and a breeze. This festival gives people a very good reason to come to the Vineyard during the Fall.
There’s a certain kind of magic that happens at these events. I am not sure if it’s because you know you’re in for great wine and a lot of fun or if it’s because it’s a great excuse for adults to have a playdate during the day. You can feel the energy in the air.
This Grand Tasting featured over 300 winemakers, spirits, breweries, gourmet foods, and restaurants. With that said, even the most seasoned connoisseur would have the chance to try new things.
Everywhere you looked, there were beautiful wines for the choosing. Red and white of all different varieties from all around the world. It’s like an amusement park. Pay your admission ticket and find your favorites.
One of the things that I love about events like this is finding one of your favorites, like Dylan’s Ghost, the artisanal vineyard of renowned wine maker, Joseph Carr. In the past, I was only familiar with the Cabernet. Can you imagine the delight of discovering that there were two new additions, a Malbec and Red Zinfandel.
Add to that, Joseph Carr was at the event pouring the wines (incognito – the hat and causal clothes didn’t fool me). I enjoy chatting with him about wine and was very impressed with his new additions. The Zinfandel was really, really good
Along with past favorites, I met a new to me vintner, Bryan Page from Revolver Wine Company and Page Wine Cellars. It’s so nice when the actual wine maker is at the festival. The conversations you have about wine together, what you learn is thrilling. Also, I learned that I am slightly in love with his Cabernet.
With Revolver, I opted for what I call a wine flight, and this was my strategy for the event. I like to start with the lighter of wines of the vineyard and work my way through to the most bold. I used to just sip types I like, but after having a wine flight at Down Island (a restaurant in Oak Bluffs), I have a whole new strategy.
What was nice was that most people pouring wines liked this. It allowed for a more dynamic interaction, and more education for me. Because even though the event is fun, there is an educational and a work component to the Grand Tasting.
Talking with Bryan and the passion and love that goes into wine making, it’s incredible. Learning about what goes into wine, an amazing wine, one that is not mass produced (though we need those too), is a gift. A reason why the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival is so spectacular. People are willing to share so much.
I am always pleased to learn about new champagnes at the Grand Tasting. As a person who enjoys a good champagne campaign, finding new vintners is always exciting.
The one that really stood out to me was Gosset – one of the oldest champagne producers in France, but has yet to really break through the US market which is saturated with a number of popular brands. The pricing is similar to that of let’s say Vueve, but it can be nice to bring something new to the rotation.
If you needed a break from the grapes, Guinness and Wash A Shore beer – the Buddha Pale Ale, the first of their beers, has become an Island staple. There was also a good selection of hard cider companies.
For bourbon drinkers, there was Woodford Reserve with bourbon samples and their delicious Fall Punch with bourbon and apple cider. This is a cocktail that would warm you up on chilly days.
Island Cocktail was there as well, I first got hooked when trying their custom cocktails at the kick off event to the festival, Fresh Off the Farm.
This time the ladies had frozen Rosé, garnished with local mint and cranberries- so lovely and refreshing.
In addition to the enjoyment of the liquid kind, there were some great bites to eat from a number of local restaurants. Chef Jimmy Alvarado, the chef at Isola, had a beautiful beef carpaccio which kept me coming back for more.
A pleasant surprise was the addition of Garde East, a new restaurant that opened in the early Summer. Chef Robert Sisca is amazing in the kitchen and it was so nice to catch up with him a bit about the new restaurant. He’s looking forward to opening again in next year.
This year’s Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Grand Tasting at the Harbor View Hotel was truly an amazing event. With pops of local food and beverages, paired with stellar wines from around the world, there was much to see, sample and learn.
It’s the perfect way to spend a Fall weekend with friends on Martha’s Vineyard! Save the Date for next year’s festival. Wonder what fun is in store since it will be the 10th year!