05/16/14 10:00am
05/16/2014 10:00 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Taste North Fork shuttle bus stops are now scheduled for 25 locations during Veteran’s Day weekend.

Six months after touting their collaboration on the first-ever Taste North Fork weekend in November, organizers from three local tourism and agricultural promotion groups have announced they won’t team up for the event again this year.  (more…)

11/19/13 5:00pm
11/19/2013 5:00 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Love Lane business owners donated a portion of their proceeds from the first-ever Taste North Fork event to benefit the family of fallen Shelter Island Solider Joseph J. Theinert.

There was wine, oysters, music and more during the first-ever Taste North Fork event this Veterans Day weekend, but the merchants on Love Lane in Mattituck never lost sight of the real meaning behind the holiday.

Amid the festival activities, local businesses owners were also busy collecting funds for the construction of the Strongpoint Theinert Ranch, a center that will enable veterans to reintegrate, reconnect and plan their futures after returning home from war.

There is a personal connection for the business owners on Love Lane, as many are longtime friends of Chrystyna Kestler, who began the effort to build the ranch along with her husband, Frank, in honor their son First Lt. Joseph J. Theinert, who died in Afghanistan in 2010 protecting his troops from explosive devices.

The Kestlers are donating the land for the 1,100-acre ranch in Magdalena, N.M.

On Tuesday, a group of eight Love Lane businesspeople presented Ms. Kestler with a check for $1,300 for the project. The money is a portion of the proceeds from the Taste North Fork weekend and will go toward the design of the ranch, Ms. Kestler said.

“I’m overwhelmed, these shops owners are my friends,” Ms. Kestler said. “When Joe was killed they showed up at my house and were so supportive and they still are. It was unexpected and a lovely surprise because we’re trying to build this rehabilitative ranch and this will really help.”

11/18/13 4:00pm
11/18/2013 4:00 PM

KATHERINE SCHRODEDER PHOTO | Alan Martinez, third place winner in a “World’s Fastest Shucker” contest, shows off his work at Claudio’s Restaurant.

After the last tasting of wine was sipped and the final oyster was shucked, organizers of the first-ever Taste North Fork festival are hailing the event a success. So successful, in fact, the North Fork Promotion Council is already working toward repeating the event in six months.

On Monday, NFPC president Joan Bischoff said members voted unanimously to bring back the event sometime in March or April following the large spike in business the three-day Veterans Day festival brought to the North Fork.

“The enthusiasm of the North Fork is what is driving this,” Mr. Bischoff said. “We’re going to try to schedule it on a weekend where there is something already going on, like restaurant week. It will be a good way to start off the summer season.”

Taste North Fork was made possible through a portion of a $335,000 “I Love NY” grant, aiming to help promote agritourism on the East End. Since the East End Tourism Alliance, Long Island Wine Council and North Fork Promotion Council unveiled the plan in August the event has received an overwhelming response from local businesses and town officials, organizers said.

“Businesses had anywhere from 20 to 40 percent increases in traffic and sales,” said Bryan DeLuca, of East End Tourism Alliance. “We had some vineyards with 60 to 80 percent increases in traffic and sales. Overall it was a tremendous success. The was a lot of collaboration between the businesses.”

Throughout the long weekend more than 50 local wineries, restaurants, hotels and shops offered a full range of activities celebrating local wines and foods across the region.

Participants had the option of hopping on a free shuttle bus provided by Hampton Jitney that ran in a loop between Riverhead and Greenport. There were also feeder buses from the Cross Sound Ferry and Long Island Rail Road. The free ridership was another first on the North Fork.

“We had a lot of ridership,” Mr. DeLuca said. “Over 1,000 people took the jitney. Hopefully this will demonstrate to the county and the state that need to start funding something similar in coming years.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that he was pleased with the turnout.

“We launched the ‘Taste NY’ campaign earlier this year to highlight the superior products that are grown and produced right here in New York and last weekend’s “Taste North Fork” event marked our latest effort,” he said. “The event was a great success in promoting the local food and beverage products to New Yorkers and visitors, and we will continue to push this ‘buy local’ movement all across the state to support our vibrant agricultural industry.”

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11/10/13 5:14pm
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Scott Oliver serves chowder to Keri Ann Mahoney of Shelter Island outside Front Street Station.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Scott Oliver serves chowder to Keri Ann Mahoney of Shelter Island outside Front Street Station.

The Taste North Fork event had mixed weather for its second full day of activities showcasing local farmers, vintners, restaurants and businesses.

Greenport Village was crowded with hundreds of people enjoying demonstrations and tastings at the large tent in Mitchell Park and in many of the restaurants and shops.

11/09/13 6:11pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Love Lane Sweet Shoppe owner Jackie Wilsberg paired up with Really Good Jams of Cutchogue at Saturday’s Taste North Fork festival.

Love Lane in Mattituck was crowded with visitors for day one of the Veterans Day weekend Taste North Fork event on Saturday.

Participating merchants will be donating a portion of their profits to benefit veterans.

Taste North Fork continues all weekend. Check back tomorrow to see photos from Greenport’s festivities.

Fore more information on Taste North Fork, check out northforker.com.

11/08/13 7:00am
11/08/2013 7:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Chef Rosa Ross will hold a special cooking class at Scrimshaw in Greenport on Saturday as part of the Taste North Fork promotion.

A 2011 study completed by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council concluded that one of three critical issues facing the region’s natural assets is “expanding infrastructure for ecotourism and tourism.”

According to that study, one hurdle in reaching the goal of using those natural assets fully is “limited public access to some notable natural areas.” Recognizing that problem, this weekend’s Taste North Fork will serve as a pilot program to identify some pros and cons of offering free shuttle bus service to the public from hamlet to hamlet, all the way from Riverhead to Orient Point.

Taste North Fork was funded as part of a $335,000 grant funneled through the Long Island Regional Development Council, and tourism businesses from wineries to bed-and-breakfasts will offer discounts. It’s often said that studies sit on the shelves long after they’re completed, so it’s nice to see the area getting funds back from Albany to inject some late-fall life into the economy.

So get out and Taste the North Fork this weekend.

Read about Taste the North Fork events on northforker.com

10/22/13 5:00pm
10/22/2013 5:00 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Taste North Fork shuttle bus stops are now scheduled for 25 locations during Veteran’s Day weekend.

With less than a month to go, details of the first-ever Taste North Fork festival are falling into place with more than 50 local wineries, restaurants, hotels and shops signing up to participate.

On Tuesday, Hampton Jitney released the official list of more than 20 stops (see below) the free shuttles it will be making on Veteran’s Day weekend.

The three-day event will feature a full range of activities celebrating local wines and foods across the region. Wineries, as well as local breweries and distilleries, will be invited to offer special tasting menus paired with foods from local restaurants.

The buses will run in a loop between Riverhead and Greenport. There will also be feeder buses from the Cross Sound Ferry and Long Island Rail Road. Stops will be made at each location approximately every 45 minutes during business hours.

The pilot program is being made possible through a portion of a $335,000 “I Love NY” grant, aiming to help promote agritourism on the East End. Since the East End Tourism Alliance, Long Island Wine Council and North Fork Promotion Council unveiled the plan in August the event has received an overwhelming response from local businesses and town officials, organizers said.

Southold, Greenport and Mattituck have all signed on to host their own “mini-festivals” in honor of Taste North Fork through the holiday weekend.

North Fork Promotion Council president Joan Bischoff said he hopes the shuttle program can continue next year for the entire summer season.

“We have to make sure it’s not a bridge to nowhere,” he said. “We would like some sort of annual event in the slow season to bring in tourists.”

The list of stops are as follows:

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard

Bedell Cellars

Castello di Borghese

Clovis Point

Coffee Pot Cellars

Duck Walk Vineyards

Jamesport Vineyards

Jason’s Vineyard

Kontokosta Winery

Macari

Osprey’s Dominion

Palmer Vineyards

Pellegrini Vineyards

Pindar

Raphael

RoanokeVineyards

Sannino Bella Vita Vineyards

Sherwood House Vineyards

Sparkling Pointe

Waters Crest Winery

LI Spirits Craft Distillery

Greenport

Southold

Mattituck

Orient Point (Cross Island Ferry connection)

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10/21/13 11:30am
10/21/2013 11:30 AM

Village Board members are set to discuss Greenport’s role in the first-ever Taste North Fork festival during its work session Monday night.

The event, scheduled for Veteran’s Day weekend, will feature a full range of activities celebrating local wines and foods across the region.

As a part of the program, a shuttle bus service will connect each of the participating wineries, hamlets and local businesses for the festival. Each hamlet has also been asked to create their own “mini-festival,” showcasing its unique characteristics.

“It is a fantastic idea,” said Greenport Business Improvement District president Peter Clarke said. “It makes sense for Greenport. It’s a pedestrian spot. People could stop and see a lot of things at one time.”

Mr. Clarke said he thinks the village could be use as a hospitality center where visitors can learn about the different locations where the shuttle will stop. Mr. Clarke said he thinks the village could be used as a hospitality center where visitors can learn about the different locations where the shuttle will stop.

The pilot program is being made possible through a portion of a $335,000 “I Love NY” grant, for which the East End Tourism Alliance, Long Island Wine Council and North Fork Promotion Council applied earlier this year.

With less than a month to go, organizers are hoping to firm up the details of Taste North Fork this week.

The Village Board meets at 6 p.m. in the Third Street Fire Station.

10/03/13 8:28am
10/03/2013 8:28 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Farm stands like Barb’s Veggies in Peconic will soon be able to sell local wines.

Wine lovers will soon be able to pick up a bottle of local vino at their nearest farm stand.

Continuing his push to promote New York State vineyards Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed new legislation permitting the sale of wine at roadside farm markets.

“These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York’s wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.

Mr. Cuomo signed bills last Friday allowing farm stands to sell local wines and creating several new wine trails in upstate New York. They go into effect March 31, 2014.

On the North Fork, which already boasts an established wine trail, the farm markets law allows for sale of wine that is manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farm stands, according to the law.

While in 2009 the mere mention of allowing wine sales at supermarkets had liquor store owners furious and scared for their livelihoods, the new law is not drawing the same amount of criticism.

Jim Silver, general manager of Empire State Cellars in Riverhead, said he doesn’t think allowing farm stands to sell local wine would have a negative impact on his business.

“The seasonality of farm stands is so limited that I don’t think it will have an impact,” he said, adding that farm stands are restricted to carrying only two brands of wine and that climate control might cause a storage issue for farmers. “Do I think it’s a good a idea? Yes. Do I think it’s a great idea? No.”

Although the town and the Long Island Wine Council have a long history of disagreeing on wine-related issues, the law is a measure both groups are behind.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said. “It’s good not just for wineries, but farmers and the people selling produce.”

Steve Bate, the Wine Council executive director, agreed.

“I think it provides a terrific new opportunity for wineries and farm stands to work together to promote the sale of local products,” he said. “This is just the latest example that Governor Cuomo really understands and appreciates the importance of agriculture and agritourism to our state’s economy.”

Mr. Cuomo has spearheaded several initiatives to bolster the wine industry.

In July 2012, the governor signed legislation designed to support New York’s breweries and wineries, as well as increase demand for locally grown farm products and expand industry-related economic development and tourism.

The Empire state is home to nearly 500 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cider mills that account for more than $22 billion in annual total economic impact in the state and support tens of thousands of jobs statewide, the governor’s office said.

The state ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production, has the second-most distilleries and three of the top-producing 20 brewers in the nation, Mr. Cuomo said.

The 2013-14 state budget introduced several new initiatives to help improve the marketing of New York State-produced products, including a total of $7 million for Market New York and Taste NY to support a multifaceted regional marketing plan that will promote regional tourism and New York-produced goods and products.

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