Story & video: Winferfest 2012 now under way in L.I. Wine Country

BARBARAELLEN PHOTO | Vicki DeRosa of Wading River gives out tastings of red mulled wine.

Nearly 300 people turned out at Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard Saturday for one of the first shows of Winterfest 2012.

Richard Rubin, the winery’s CEO, said this year’s kickoff was more successful than last year despite the light snow that covered the North Fork earlier in the day.

“Bad weather tends to put a lot of fear in people, but we’re very thrilled with the turnout,” he said. “It just shows that Winterfest is a really popular event that people look forward to.”

There are 71 concerts set for this year’s Jazz on the Vine series, the most in the annual event’s five-year history.

Some 6,000 people in total flocked to East End for last year’s concerts, and Winterfest organizers expect that number to grow this year. Tickets to all Winterfest concerts are $15 and include a glass of wine.

In addition to the Winterfest activities, the Baiting Hollow Vineyard offered barrel tastings of its 2010 Red Velvet wine, which will be available for sale this summer. The tastings were paired with mini Red Velvet cupcakes.

Denise and Nate Brauner, a married couple from Brooklyn who learned about Winterfest through a Groupon offer, described the Red Velvet wine as “stunning.”

“Everything has been perfect,” Ms. Braunner said. “We’re having a great time. The wine, music and atmosphere is fantastic.”

The Christine Spero Group, a music group from the Catskills area, had its first Winterfest experience this Saturday at the Sound Avenue vineyard.

The group’s leader, Elliot Spero, described the event’s turnout as “wonderful.”

“This is a great crowd,” Mr. Spero said during an intermission. “It took us four hours to get here because of the weather, but it was worth it.

“The snow made it into a true Winterfest.”

[email protected]

Check back at for more Winterfest photos.