Winterfest Kicks Off on the Twin Forks!

Winterfest occupied Long Island’s wine region last February and March, and it plans to outdo itself this year!

Now in its sixth year, Winterfest takes the heart of winter—a harsh, bitterly cold season—and warms it up to a tolerable level with two great things, fine wine and smooth jazz.

This year Jazz on the Vine will be the theme of the fest that will offer over 70 superb performances at 19 different North Fork and South Fork wineries. With an admission price of only $20, which includes a complimentary glass of wine, there is no better way to spend a wintery weekend on the East End!

Winterfest will span six straight weekends from February 9 to March 17, and will run in conjunction with other outstanding offers from local businesses, restaurants, bed & breakfasts, and limo/transport companies.

Last Friday during a kick-off event at the Hotel Indigo in Riverhead, the East End Arts and Winterfest partner the Long Island Wine Council, along with others, revealed their much-anticipated schedule, which will also include two performances at the soon-to-reopen Suffolk Theater in Riverhead.

“We are proud of our wine region and to support the jazz art form,” said Pat Synder of East End Arts. “It was a big year for us, Wine Enthusiast magazine recently named our wine region one of the top 10 best wine travel destinations, one of only two in the country.”

The kickoff event, a preview of further great things to come later this winter, featured a quaint jam session with the Steve Watson Trio, followed by several guest performers from last year’s fest.

The room was packed, the audience heavily concentrated in the bar area; servers hurried through the crowd with plates of cheeses and other appetizers. Steve Watson and his trio got down to business, leading a new quintet in a performance that jumpstarted the evening, picking up momentum, getting stronger and sharper as it went.

Jazz aficionados, wine enthusiasts, and others just there to enjoy the evening carried on without a care in the world with the music, while others socialized throughout the room. Winterfest was here, picking up where it left off last March.

For those who could not make the kick-off event or for those who are new and don’t know, Winterfest was created to be an oasis and as an economic response to bitter cold winter. During these six weekends, jazz and Long Island wine are used to draw locals and tourists alike out for a pleasant weekend.

“Our sixth annual Long Island WinterfestJazz on the Vine program will be the best yet, with an outstanding line-up of musicians performing in winery tasting rooms,” says Steve Bates, Executive Director of the Long Island Wine Council. “The past five years have clearly demonstrated that great music and fine wine combine to make the East End a wonderful winter weekend destination.”

Wineries are now helping to form the core infrastructure of jazz on the East End of Long Island. Traditionally, the winter is both a slow season for jazz musicians and vineyards alike, due to the chilly weather, but this six-weekend smorgasbord of affordable fine wine and soothing jazz has allowed the region to become economically stable, even in the off-season.
Over the past five years, this winter festival has generated approximately $3 million in additional revenue, helping Long Island to become one of the top 10 best wine regions in the world.

This year’s Winterfest is not to be missed, with over 70 performances at 20 different venues, including 19 wineries and the beautiful Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. Check out for more details.

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