For over a decade now, the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival (MVFWF) has brought visitors to the Island — in the form of both attendees and participants. Chefs, vintners, restaurateurs, gastronomes, and educators will descend on Edgartown for four days and five nights this week. As well as dinners, tastings, and other opportunities to sample the offerings of chefs and winemakers, the festival will include a variety of events that will inspire, inform, and entertain.
The festival’s mission reads, “The MVFW Festival stays rooted in the Island’s rich tradition of farming and fishing, inviting you to meet local culinary talent, and the farmers, fishermen, oyster producers, and artisans they work with — adding guest chefs and vintners from around the world for a unique-to-the-Island celebration.”
To those ends, the festival will kick off with two Vineyard-centric events. This year the festivities will begin a day earlier than usual with an evening spotlighting local farms. Fresh off the Farm will feature cuisine prepared by Island chefs, using ingredients from various Vineyard farms. The proceeds from this opening event, to be held at the Agricultural Hall, will benefit two local organizations, Island Grown Schools and the Agricultural Society’s Farmers Program.
Day two of the festival will start off with another event honoring local products. Bubbles & Shellfish will offer attendees the opportunity to sample native shellfish paired with a variety of Moët Champagnes.
Sponsored by the Edgartown Board of Trade, the festival will also include a presentation by awardwinning architect Patrick Ahearn, whose firm has made a tremendous impact on the preservation of historic Edgartown. Ahearn will talk about his mission to combine traditional architecture with the ideals of modernism, as set out in his new book, “Timeless.”
All in all, the festival will include 20 signature events, ranging from a fudge and red wine pairing at Edgartown’s Murdick’s Fudge to a lobster roll tasting to extravagant wine dinners held at private residences and upscale restaurants.
This year, the festival has moved from the currently under-renovation Harbor View Hotel to the Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Katama. Many of the events, such as the Grand Tasting on Saturday, the always-popular Joseph Carr Wine Dinner, and the Deconstructed New England Clambake, will take place at the Winnetu — either at the Dunes Restaurant or under a tent on the spacious lawn. The other events are scattered around the Island at private homes, the Daniel Fisher House, and a dinner at l’Etoile Restaurant. There’s even a new event, a 10K Run/Walk Brunch, centered around the Katama General Store.
Along with local chefs Scott Ehrlich of the Dunes and l’Etoile’s Michael Brisson, the festival will import top chefs from Boston, New Jersey, and elsewhere. Among the latter is Charlie Foster, executive chef at Woods Hill Table in West Concord. The farm-to-table restaurant focuses on grass-fed proteins, raw milk cheeses, and organic produce sourced from the restaurant’s Farm at Woods Hill in Bath, N.H.
A trio of chefs from top restaurants in New Jersey will prepare a six-course dinner paired with wines from the Vineyards at Knights Bridge in Sonoma County on Saturday, and a New England seafood dinner at the Winnetu on Friday.
A repeat event that has proven popular in the past is titled Italian Salumi & Specialties 101. Educator, expert, and epicure Marco Mocellin will lead guests on “a spirited tour through one of Italy’s best-kept-secret regions — Liguria” through an interactive experience featuring artisan cured meats and cheeses and olive oils from Italy, paired with Italian wines.
The festival appeals to both locals and visitors from points far and wide. MVFWF director Dawn Curtis Hanley says, “Anecdotally, probably at least 50 percent of the attendees each year are from off-Island. We have loyal visitors from Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, as well as a lot of people from the Boston area, Connecticut, New York.”
The festival has grown in popularity as well as range of offerings since it was founded 11 years ago. “We’ve expanded our wine portfolio this year,” says Hanley. “There will be a lot of new high-quality wines, and a different roster of participating chefs.”
The MVFWF’s reputation has allowed the organizers to attract new participants every year. “I know that the winemakers really love this festival,” says Hanley. “It’s a little more of a boutique festival. The guests are able to interact in a really meaningful way with the attendees.”
And those attendees tend to be searching for more than a wine-and-dine event. “I would say that the audience we attract is a fairly sophisticated one,” says Hanley. “They’re really curious. They want to learn more about the wines, to take the time to understand.”
Visitors will also get the chance to experience the Island and the joys of the shoulder season. “We want people to fall in love with the Vineyard,” says Hanley. “We want them to have a great experience all around. To sample great wines and great food and to explore Edgartown and the surrounding areas. To learn more about the Island.”
Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, Oct. 17 to Oct. 21, at various locations around the Island. For the full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit mvfoodandwine.com.