Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival: A true collaboration

Ralph Stewart

It’s only appropriate that there is a festival to celebrate the namesake of our Island. Wines from all over the world will be tasted, talked about, and teamed with dishes made by local chefs during the first Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival.

John Clift, wine director at Atria Restaurant in Edgartown, and Angela Vezzose are the founders and organizers of the weekend. “We’ve done events in the past and outgrew the venues,” said Mr. Clift. “We realized that there was a demand.” This year the festival will support the Local Wild Food Challenge and the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club.

The event kicks off Thursday, May 9, with a rosé reception from 3 to 5 pm at Atria in Edgartown. Attendees will be transported to the South of France sipping on Provence Rose from Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel while sampling light appetizers.

The weekend will be filled with wine dinners featuring fare from Island chefs inspired and paired with wines from top Vineyards. Dine in Katama with hosts Wilson and Ellen Saville on a five-course dinner prepared by chef Matthew Safranek of the Home Port Restaurant in Menemsha, paired with a range of wines from Rombauer Vineyards. Or head to l’etoile Restaurant in Edgartown for an evening of food and wine with chef and owner Michael Brisson and wines from Soter Vineyards.

If you prefer bold, full-bodied red wines, the King of Cabernet dinner at Atria is not to be missed. The night will feature cabernet sauvignon from some of the top producers in California, including Frog’s Leap Winery, Hewitt Vineyards, Louis M. Martini Winery, Palmaz, and Trinchero. The wines will be paired with dishes prepared by chef and owner Christian Thornton, chef Michael Rottman, as well as other Island chefs.

Chef Justin Melnick of The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn in Edgartown will team up with Stephanie Putnam from Raymond Winery to showcase a range of wines paired with an innovative menu filled with local ingredients. Mr. Melnick describes the process of choosing wines and creating dishes to complement them: “I taste the wine and try to picture what comes into my mind. I tasted a crisp white wine and I thought of local seafood,” he said in reference to the first dish on the menu, a “fruits of the sea” seafood ceviche paired with a 2011 chardonnay. The menu consists of a wide range of dishes such as braised wild boar ragu with hand-rolled fettuccine pasta and lemon mascarpone cheese, and it features vegetables from Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown.

Expect a dinner filled with local treats at The Farmer’s Table Dinner, with Krishana Collins of Tea Lane Farm joined by her farming friends. The farm-to-table dinner will be prepared by chef Aaron Zeender and each course will include local ingredients paired with organic wines from Frog’s Leap Winery.

For the more adventurous, join chef Billy Manson of the Local Wild Food Challenge for a dinner made entirely of foraged foods from Martha’s Vineyard. Enjoy what the Island has to offer accompanied by wines from Longboard Vineyards, presented by owner and wine maker Oded Shakked.

Wine tasting is not only reserved for the nighttime. During the day, sample Sweet Neck Farm oysters and Spanish wines from Martin Codax on an oyster cruise around Edgartown Harbor. “There are a lot of great Spanish wines coming into the States,” said Mr. Clift, “These wines tend to have lower price points and deliver with good varietals.”

On Saturday, May 11, enhance your wine knowledge and repertoire at the Grand Tasting event held at the Rod & Gun Club in Edgartown. The day will feature wines from more than 200 wineries around the world and food from local vendors. “Try to come to the grand tasting,” recommends Mr. Clift for beginner taster. “There will be a wide range of wines to taste and representatives of wineries to talk with.”

Don’t miss the finale on Sunday, May 12, at Détente Restaurant in Edgartown. A bottomless mimosa and Bloody Mary brunch hosted by La Marca Prosecco and Deep Eddy Vodka will round out the festivities. Chef and owner Kevin Crowell will make sure to end the weekend with a bang.

Event prices range between $25 to $150, according to the website.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit