A three-night stay for two at a top Bermuda resort with airfare and three bottles of Long Island wine was the top-money prize at Saturday's Harvest East End Auction and Gala Dinner, bringing in $5,000 out of a preliminary total of $31,000 raised for three East End charities.
The auction and dinner, preceded by a tasting under a tent featuring 28 wineries and 18 restaurants, took place at the Ludlow Farm in Bridgehampton.
The dinner, featuring dishes prepared by William Holden of West End Café, Carle Place; Tom Schaudel of A Lure, A Mano and CoolFish and Noah Schwartz of Noah's, Greenport, drew 400 attendees, including a handful of luminaries including National Public Radio host Faith Middleton, “Top Chef” finalist and host of ABC's “The Chew” Carla Hall and SNY announcer and former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez.
Some 500 visitors during late afternoon Saturday tasted barrel samples of wines produced in 2010 as well as recent and older vintages. Among the hundreds of wines being poured was the New York State No. 1, Martha Clara 2010 Riesling. Food offerings featured local produce, duck, seafood and Mecox Dairy cheese. And for those with a sweet tooth there were dessert wines and chocolates.
“It turned out pretty well,” said Darnell Brown, the executive director of the Long Island Merlot Alliance and chief organizer of the event.
Meanwhile, a six-course dinner for 12 prepared by chef/winemaker David Page and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio at the Shinn Estate Farmhouse in Mattituck garnered $4,500 and was the second biggest auction prize among the dozen gaveled by Charles Antin, associate vice president and wine specialist at Christie's, the New York auction house. Numerous smaller lots, including bottles of Merliance with artist-commissioned original wine labels, were sold at a silent auction. Results of that auction were not immediately available.
The auction and dinner wrapped a three-weekend industry celebration that benefited East End Hospice, Group for the East End and the Peconic Land Trust. The event, organized by the Long Island Merlot Alliance and Long Island Wine Council, also included 10-mile dinners prepared by local chefs using local ingredients at private homes and a series of educational seminars that provided behind-the-scenes looks at viticulture and winemaking on the East End.
Attendees appeared to be enjoying themselves, with the main tasting tent becoming a sea of people by 6 p.m.
“We're having a wonderful time. We're doing the whole event,” said Robin Helner-Reich of Center Moriches as she worked her way around the tasting tent.
“There's a lot happening. We met Keith Hernandez,” said Michael Scarola, whose family owns Scarola Vineyards in Southold.
“This is such an amazing event. And we're getting to help the area we live in,” said Michael Cinque, owner of Amagansett Wines & Spirits.
Wine producers also were pleased.
“I love events like this,” said Barbara Smithen, the owner of Sherwood House Vineyards in Mattituck, noting that people who taste wines at this and similar events often follow up with visits to the winery.