The 2019 Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival was a weekend unlike any other on island and I can’t wait to share all about it! If you’re a food and wine lover, this festival that takes place every October on Martha’s Vineyard, is the place for you!
Now, you might be wondering: “Oh I thought Marnely didn’t drink alcohol?” and you’re right – I still don’t drink booze, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the FOOD part of any food & wine festival. Plus, the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival is a client of my business Shored Up Digital, so working alongside the chefs, event planners, and rest of the team was just a dream come true.
2019 was the 12th year that the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival has been in action and I’ve been involved with it for the past three years, and let’s just say this year was the best ever! Every year the event grows not only in attendance, but in events, chef participation, and delicious food served. May this blog post serve you as an incentive to start planning your 2020 visit to Martha’s Vineyard and the October Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival.
Let’s starting with the grandest event of all,
The Grand Tasting:
Held at the beautiful Winnetu Oceanside Resort, the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival’s Grand Tasting was the highlight of the weekend’s celebration of all things food, wine, and Martha’s Vineyard. Guests had a chance to taste and savor the cuisine from top culinary talent from Martha’s Vineyard, Boston, and beyond, alongside sipping exceptional wines from around the world. The event featured tastings from 250+ winemakers, spirits, breweries, gourmet foods, and restaurants. A highlight of the Grand Tasting was the chef demonstrations featuring a line-up of well-known chefs and wine pairings and one of my favorite chef demos was one with Amy Traverso of Yankee Magazine!
Per usual, the best part of every event for me is the food and the food did not disappoint. Not only did we get a chance to try local foods, but restaurants from all over New England were in attendance, like my best friends Chris and Emilee Viaud, chef/owners of Greenleaf (pictured below), a seasonally inspired restaurant in Milford, New Hampshire. Above you can see the tasting bite that Chef Chris Viaud created for the festival and I know I am biased but I truly can say it was one of the best bites of food that weekend: toasted brioche topped with sweet potato, duck, and pickled red onion – what a sublime combination of flavors that was!
Another stellar and delicious bite was this caviar cannoli from Encore Boston Harbor and my oh my was it incredible. Imagine a crisp cannoli shell filled with a blue fish cream cheese filling and topped on both sides with caviar. What a decadent, luscious bite that was.
For the oyster lovers, the signature Oh Shucks! event is a must. This event was led by Dan Michaud for a view into the world of oyster farming and his favorite wine pairings from his recent trip to the Iberian Peninsula back in the Spring. We enjoyed a dozen oysters from right here on the Vineyard paired with six perfect pours from Spain and Portugal. Dan’s childhood friend owns one of the most important oyster hatcheries in the North East and he has gained an extraordinary amount of knowledge over the years about the world’s most sustainable seafood. This Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival seminar has sold out incredibly fast every year, so if you’re looking to attend in 2020, make sure to stay updated when tickets go on sale.
Chef Wine Dinners
One of the best parts of the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival are all the chef-led wine dinners held in private homes, hotels, and local restaurants. Chefs are paired with wine makers and wineries and together they create a menu that showcases both the food and the wine. The dinners are normally small and under 50 guests, so you really get to chat with the chef and wine maker during the meal, as well as connect with other food and wine lovers at your table.
Thrill of the Grill
This year, one of Spain’s historic Rioja producers, Campo Viejo, was pouring selections of Rioja, Rioja Reserva and Rioja Gran Reserva at this amazing Thrill of the Grill event, in addition to a signature cocktail, local beer and sangria. This “grill off” provided guests with the opportunity to enjoy charred bites prepared by our visiting chefs in a casual, fun setting. It’s the classic island experience to kickstart the festival weekend and we had some incredible food like grilled octopus, pork belly with chicharrones, and so much more. If you love grilling, this event is for you!
The flagship food, wine and drink festival of Martha’s Vineyard, the MVF&W Festival stays rooted in the Island’s rich tradition of farming and fishing, which in a way invites 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. This festival takes place right in the same town I live and work in, Edgartown, so it’s very special to see it all come together every year.
Conversation with Sam Sifton
This was a new event this year, sponsored by the Vineyard Gazette and Cook the Vineyard, in which they had Sam Sifton, food editor and columnist for The New York Times, alongside Susie Middleton, Island cookbook author and editor of the website and newsletter Cook the Vineyard, chat in a conversation about food writing and the rise of food-related media in the online-sharing. As a food writer myself, it was such an eye-opening experience to hear about the behind the scenes straight from Sam himself. The event then was composed of a second part, where guests paired dessert wines with three cookies: the classic New York Black & White Cookie, the Vineyard’s Vineyard Salted Cranberry Bar and the Harbor View’s Roxy’s Rainbow Cookie developed by Roxana Chiu and prepared by Executive Chef Patrice Martineau. Such a delicious and interactive event!
And before you read too much into this blog, I was actually working the event as you can see below! Managing social media for the 2019 Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival was incredibly hard work but so much fun – we were on our phones 24/7 that entire week, making sure to capture everything! Pictured below are my cousin Lorely (my forever Instagram model) and Makenzie Hall, event superstar at Harbor View Hotel. Another fabulous photo captured by David Welch Photography, but more about his fabulous work at the end of this post!
If you love lobster, this is THE signature event for you! Classic Maine? Connecticut hot buttered? What’s your favorite style of lobster roll? Amy Traverso, Yankee Magazine Senior Food Editor and co-host of public television’s Weekends with Yankee, hosted a lobster roll tasting prepared by Bettini’s Executive Chef Patrice Martineau, presented in three different styles. My favorite was the Japanese-style lobster sushi roll, which is serendipitous because it’s actually on the menu at Bettini and it’s called the Harbor View Roll: crunchy spicy lobster, avocado, mango salsa, and tobigo are the ingredients and just typing them makes me salivate – can’t wait to head over for lunch this week!
Champagne & Donuts
Oh goodness, this was the sweetest and most delicious way to end the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival weekend, because there’s nothing better than a fresh donut! Well, maybe a perfectly chilled glass of Champagne for those that drink. The Rosewater Family offered attendee’s the opportunity to taste not one or two but four of the exceptional champagnes from the Taittinger Family, who have demonstrated for nearly a century their ability to craft ‘completely unique’ champagnes, while walking us through the finer details of this bubbly gold (and pink) and explain the magical alchemy that leads to their house-made fried morsels of joy in a multi-course adventure in indulgence. My favorite bite were their insanely delicious apple fritters, whoa. I can only imagine champagne made the taste even better – well I know it did because everyone around me was swooning. This is the event for all those sweet tooth out there!
Overall, this is the festival for you and your friends if you love spending a relaxing weekend enjoying food and wine focused event in one of the best New England towns. Next year’s Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival dates are October 21-25, 2020 so make sure to set a reminder a few months before so when tickets go on sale you’re the first one to grab them. Stay updated by following the festival on Facebook and Instagram as well!
A note about the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival photos in this blog post: all the photos were captured by David Welch Photography, a talented local photographer on island. Working alongside David this food and wine week was a dream come true, a true professional and expert in his craft, the way David captured the events and attendees was perfect. If you’re having an event on Martha’s Vineyard, whether it’s an engagement, a wedding, family portraits, or you need new headshots, David Welch Photography is who I recommend 100%.