On Saturday, September 17, Food & Wine Magazine’s HARVEST EAST END Festival and Harvest Moon Gala brought out nearly all 44 of the winemakers on Long Island and several of the best restaurants from the East End for a tasting event hosted by the Long Island Merlot Alliance and Long Island Wine Council.  With over 1,100 wine and food enthusiasts in attendance at The Ludlow Farm/Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton, this was a chance to compare local wines from each vineyard and check out the 2010 vintage barrel samples before anyone else.

Held in conjunction with the fall grape harvest, the evening featured a live auction that raised $31,000 to benefit East End Hospice, Group for the East End and the Peconic Land Trust.  The only Long Island wine auction of its kind, it featured custom bottles with special commissioned art labels as well as exciting experiences that were generously donated by local businesses.

A four-day, three-night trip to Bermuda went for the highest bid of the night at $5,000, with the second highest bid coming in at $4,500 for a 12-person wine dinner at Shinn Farmhouse featuring Top Chef Tom Colicchio cooking the winner’s meal.  Appearances by another Top Chef, Carla Hall (who can currently be seen on ABC’s The Chew) and former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez topped off the evening.

With so many great wines to savor it was hard to pick a favorite, but our vino addiction was particularly piqued with the blends from Clovis Point, Raphael, and Channing Daughters Winery.  Over 15 different restaurants offered light bites from their menus, and several topped our list: Southfork Kitchen’s cucumber gazpacho, The Riverhead Project’s heirloom tomato tartlet (amazing!), and Rugosa Restaurant’s chocolate candied beet cake (you don’t know what you’re missing!).

“HARVEST is a great community effort, bringing together our charity partners, local food, local wine and our neighbors across the East End,” said Roman Roth, event chair of HARVEST EAST END, who also happens to be Executive Vice President of the Long Island Merlot Alliance, and a winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyard.  “It’s a true representation of our fall harvest bounty,” commented Roth.