Wine drinkers and jazz lovers have a reason to get excited: the popular Winterfest Jazz on the Vine concert series is officially underway.
About 100 guests gathered in the ballroom of Hotel Indigo East End Friday evening for Winterfest’s kickoff event.
Mike McGowan of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (LICVB) said at a press conference prior to the kickoff event that the founders and organizers of Winterfest “gave us the product we desperately needed,” when they began the first set of concerts five years ago, setting up an event that brings large crowds during an otherwise quiet time of year.
He said the concerts invite residents of western Long Island and the tri-state area to the East End, where they support the local economy by shopping in boutiques and dining in restaurants on the north and south forks, places “they know they want to come back to come spring.”
The LICVB sponsors the yearly concert series along with the Long Island Wine Council and East End Arts. This year, 71 concerts — the most performances in Winterfest history — will go on at participating wineries and at Hotel Indigo East End. Pat Snyder, executive director of East End Arts, said the lineup is especially impressive this year, as the great majority of scheduled musicians have been nominated for Grammy Awards.
Admission to each concert is $15 per person and includes a glass of wine.
The first concert is set for Feb. 11.
Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, said more wineries are participating this year than ever before.
“Wineries and other businesses are beginning to recognize that this program has transformed this region into a winter destination,” he said.
Last year, 6,000 people bought tickets to Winterfest and an estimated 10,000 people flocked to East End wineries during Winterfest season.
After the press conference, guests drank local wine and feasted on light fare while listening to a jazz jam lead by the Steve Watson Trio, a Winterfest headliner.
Eileen Sanger and her husband Freddy Profit came to the kickoff event from Miller Place and sipped full glasses of peppery Bedell Cellars Cabernet Franc during the kickoff.
Veteran Winterfest goers, Ms. Sanger and Mr. Profit are especially excited for the Tessa Souter Group, which is performing at Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards on Feb. 25.
“[Winterfest] is a great attraction for Long Islanders,” Ms. Sanger said. “The wineries are a nice place to spend a cold day.”
“[Local wineries] have a great product out here,” she added.