02/03/13 5:00pm
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO  |  Papo Vazquez, left, with Willie Williams on saxophone at Raphael Vineyards during last year's Winterfest.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Papo Vazquez, left, with Willie Williams on saxophone at Raphael Vineyards during last year’s Winterfest.

It’s that time of year again when visitors from across the Northeast flock to Long Island Wine Country for Winterfest Jazz on the Vine.

The six-weekend jazz-and-wine celebration kicked off Jan. 25 with a media event and party at Hotel Indigo in Riverhead, with shows booked at select winery tasting rooms Feb. 9 and 10. The festival runs through the weekend of March 16 and 17.

Now in its sixth year, Winterfest has helped the local wine region evolve from a seasonal tourist attraction to a year-round getaway, boosting business at local hotels, restaurants and B&Bs, area businesspeople say.

RELATED: Complete series schedule for Jazz on Vine 2013

In addition to attracting visitors to tasting rooms during traditionally slow months, Winterfest has proved a factor in the North Fork’s recognition as a top wine destination, said Rob Salvatico of the Hotel Indigo. “It used to be that roughly after Thanksgiving you could shut your doors until mid- to late April or May,” Mr. Salvatico said. “Now the weekends are rocking from Valentine’s straight through Saint Patrick’s Day. There’s a lull during Passover and Easter, but then it starts to pick right back up again.”

Mr. Salvatico said from a revenue perspective the numbers Winterfest brings to the region are enough to transform a winter Saturday to a summer Saturday, and last year’s event brought nearly 10,000 visitors to the North Fork over the six weeks.

“Jazz on the Vine is the theme of Long Island Winterfest,” he said, “I don’t think they intended for it to always be jazz, but it was so popular that it’s become a fixture. If you’re a jazz enthusiast, this is going to become a destination for your yearly jazz jaunts.”

He said the popularity of Winterfest hit a new high in 2012 for it’s fifth year anniversary, when Hotel Indigo held a kickoff showcase event for the first time in their ballroom, and supper-style events throughout the six weeks.

“On Saturday nights the musicians would come back to the Hotel Indigo and have jazz jam sessions in our bistro and it was so popular we had to turn people away,” he said. “Every weekend was just wild.”

This year’s event shows no signs of slowing down, according to the president of the Long Island Wine Council trade group, Ron Goerler.

“We have the most acts ever this year,” Mr. Goerler said. “We chose 72 acts to perform at 30 wineries over six weeks. We had 250 people apply to play during Jazz on the Vine this year, so that shows just how much it’s growing.”

Mr. Goerler said the region used to get money from Suffolk County and New York State to fund the festival, but wineries had to charge cover fees for events after grants began drying up.

But that didn’t stop people from visiting, he said.

“Last year we had a record 7,500 people come out for the event and with the region being named [by Wine Enthusiast magazine] one of the top four wine regions in the world to visit in 2013, I’m looking forward to seeing how many people come out this year,” Mr. Goerler said.

The event brought people from as far south as Philadelphia and as far north as upper Westchester and Connecticut, along with folks from New York City and New Jersey, according to Mr. Salvatico, who said Winterfest has “without question” been part of Hotel Indigo’s success through 2012.

“Winterfest actually gave birth to our having live music on Fridays and Saturdays,” he said. “We do that throughout the year now. Anyone can play Muzak all day, but having live music a couple times a week adds an air of elegance and style to the facility. It’s an amenity for our guests and a draw for people locally to come have dinner with us.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

01/27/13 1:05pm
GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO  |  Steve Watson Trio performed Friday night during the kick-off event for Winterfest.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Steve Watson Trio performed Friday night during the kick-off event for Winterfest.

An evening of food and live jazz helped kick off 2013’s Winterfest Friday night at The Hotel Indigo in Riverhead. Winterfest, a jazz and wine festival held at North fork wineries, will run on weekends between Feb. 9 and March 17.

The kick-off event in the hotel’s ballroom featured live jazz by the Steve Watson Trio, along with eight other planned sit-in musicians, who also played throughout the evening.

The winter festival’s theme, Jazz on the Vine, has become a fixture during the event’s six-year run, according to the hotel’s owner, Rob Salvatico. He said the link between jazz and Winterfest has made the the mellow music form something visitors have come to expect along with their glasses of local wine.

“This is going to become a destination for people’s yearly jazz jaunts,” he said.

Mr. Salvatico isn’t the only one singing the off-season extravaganza’s praises.

County Executive Steve Bellone said Winterfest’s recent bestowal of the “Arts Destination Marketing Award” by Americans for the Arts and Destination International, “acknowledges what we who live and work in Suffolk have long known — that our region is a fascinating and fun destination all year around.”

For more about Winterfest’s effect on the East End’s development as a year-round destination, pick up a copy of next week’s Suffolk Times.

01/10/13 5:00pm

Here’s something to warm you up for the winter: The North Fork of Long Island now has something in common with Rioja, Spain and Danube, Austria. All three regions were included in Wine Enthusiast’s recent list of the Top 10 Wine Destinations in the World for 2013.

The news comes three months after travel company TripAdvisor named Long Island one of the top five wine destinations in the country.

“You couldn’t ask for more positive news starting off 2013 than being named one of the world’s top ten wine destinations,” said Ron Goerler, president of the Long Island Wine Council and owner of Jamesport Vineyards. “It’s a shot in the arm this area needs right now … after Sandy, things got very quiet out here.”

But Mr. Goerler said with the approaching Winterfest, the North Fork’s annual jazz and wine festival, things will quickly heat up in North Fork wine region.

“As president of the Long Island Wine Council, I couldn’t be more excited for 2013,” he said.

Founding winemaker Kip Bedell of Bedell Cellars in Southold, was singing the same tune. As someone who has been making wine in the region for more than three decades, he said he “felt all along that this region has a potential to make world class wines, though like any region, we had a lot to learn and much has changed and will change in the vineyards in order to reach that potential.”

See the complete list of wine destinations by clicking here.

 

 

01/10/13 5:00pm

Here’s something to warm you up for the winter: The North Fork of Long Island now has something in common with Rioja, Spain and Danube, Austria. All three regions were included in Wine Enthusiast’s recent list of the Top 10 Wine Destinations in the World for 2013.

The news comes three months after travel company TripAdvisor named Long Island one of the top five wine destinations in the country.

“You couldn’t ask for more positive news starting off 2013 than being named one of the world’s top ten wine destinations,” said Ron Goerler, president of the Long Island Wine Council and owner of Jamesport Vineyards. “It’s a shot in the arm this area needs right now … after Sandy, things got very quiet out here.”

But Mr. Goerler said with the approaching Winterfest, the North Fork’s annual jazz and wine festival, things will quickly heat up in North Fork wine region.

“As president of the Long Island Wine Council, I couldn’t be more excited for 2013,” he said.

Founding winemaker Kip Bedell of Bedell Cellars in Southold, was singing the same tune. As someone who has been making wine in the region for more than three decades, he said he “felt all along that this region has a potential to make world class wines, though like any region, we had a lot to learn and much has changed and will change in the vineyards in order to reach that potential.”

See the complete list of wine destinations by clicking here.

 

 

08/01/12 12:00pm

COURTESY PHOTO | NY76.0844.24 makes a top-ranked floral, muscat wine, according to Cornell scientists. So what would you name it?

Love wine? Want to help name a new variety of grape?

Here’s your chance.

Cornell University is asking the public to help them name two new varieties of grape from their breeding program set to be released next year.

Grape breeder Bruce Reisch is the man behind the new varieties, including a cold-hardy white wine grape and an organic dark red one, currently named NY76.0844.24 and NY95.0301.01, respectively.

Mr. Reisch said the name needs to stand out among the 7,000 other varieties of grape and be “marketable, easy to pronounce and carry positive connotations,” adding that both foreign-sounding and names similar to well-loved varieties are popular.

NY76.0844.24, the white wine grape, was first created in 1976, a highly productive grape that ranks high in its winter hardiness. Mr. Reisch said it has “excellent wine quality and aromatic characters reminiscent of Gewürztraminer or a citrusy Muscat.”

NY95.0301.01, the organic red, was developed in 1995 and fast-tracked into production because of its promise as an organic variety. It is the first grape to be released from a “no-spray” vineyard, with good resistance to both downy and powdery mildews. Mr. Reisch said “it exhibits moderate body, good structure and blueberry flavor on the pallette.”

The winning names will be revealed between February 6 and 8 at the Viticulture 2013 conference in Rochester, NY.

“There are so many different flavors,” Mr. Reisch said. “Why shouldn’t people get excited about new varieties? They keep things interesting for the consumer and are often better for growers.”

Got name suggestions? Leave a comment below to let us know what your ideas are and don’t forget to copy and paste them in an email to Mr. Reisch at bruce.reisch@cornell.edu.