Martha’s Vineyard is known for many things: Seafood, sunsets, and beaches to name a few. But, despite bearing the name Martha’s Vineyard, the Island currently boasts no actual vineyards or wineries. Historically, the Island has only been home to one such business, West Tisbury winemaker Chicama Vineyards, which was in business for 37 years until closing its doors in 2008.
Each year many people still arrive to the Island expecting to find sprawling fields of grapes, winery tours, or tasting rooms to enjoy an Island wine. While Martha’s Vineyard no longer offers a direct connection to native-grown grapes, the Island has managed to attract a long list of talented chefs, business owners, and festival organizers that have helped keep Martha’s Vineyard on the map as a wine lover’s paradise.
Visiting local wine shops
There is no shortage of wine shops on-Island, even in the winter months. In Edgartown the family-owned MV Wine and Spirits, located at the airport, offers unique wines including a collection of organic and sustainable options, as well as seasonal tasting events open to the public. For a smaller, more intimate wine shopping experience there’s Vintage MV Wine & Spirits in Nevin Square, where you can find a handpicked selection of wine, beer, and spirits for those seeking something unique. Vintage MV Wine & Spirits also offers private tastings, wedding and event consulting, home cellar development, delivery, and more.
The importance of pairing
Pairing great food and good wine is a no-brainer. Not only can a glass of wine at dinner make for a more relaxing meal, but coupling it with the right food can introduce even more complex flavors. The sugar, acid, alcohol, and tannins of a wine can take on new life when paired with the right food. Winter is often associated with richer comfort foods that pair well with heavy, robust wines like a Cabernet Sauvignon. With spring upon us, it’s time to start embracing lighter-bodied wines that pair well with more delicate food and make for a great outdoor sipping option, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
Many Martha’s Vineyard restaurants have trained staff on hand to help you navigate an often intimidating wine list. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation from your server, or sommelier if one is available. This time of year both Alchemy and Henry’s at the Harbor View provide cozy bars perfect for sipping and discovering new wines. Come May, Detente in Nevins Square is a go-to spot for foodies and wine lovers. They often offer wine-tasting dinners with winemakers, as well as collaborations with local food artisans and organizations. The Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs is now under new ownership, and we’re looking forward to seeing their new and improved wine list, which they’ve been curating with the help of John Clift from Vintage MV Wine & Spirits.
MV Wine Fest brings it all together
Enjoying wine on Martha’s Vineyard culminates with the MV Wine Fest, an opportunity to bring wine lovers and winemakers together to experience the benefits of wine pairing firsthand. The annual event, now in its fifth year, includes intimate dinners from local chefs, farm tours, and a lively Grand Tasting event. This year, wines from all over the world will be tasted, talked about, and teamed with gourmet dishes from local culinary talents including Justin Melnick of The Terrace, Carolyn King of the Edgartown Yacht Club, and master caterer Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch.
Private chef Gavin Smith of Food Minded Fellow will return to the MV Wine Fest for the second year and appreciates the connectivity it provides.
“In my business as a private chef, I love to collaborate with local farmers and fisherman. Many people, especially visitors, don’t realize how rich we are in local produce in addition to our fresh seafood. MV Wine Fest is a great opportunity to pair our local resources with world class wines, and really highlight the amazing flavors that can come to life in the process.”
The MV Wine Fest takes place May 11–14, across various locations in Edgartown, including the Kelley House and at private homes in the area. For tickets and additional information visit themvwinefestival.com.