Southold Historical Society Crowdsources Summer Wine Exhibition

Share your antique corkscrews with Southold Historical Society
Share your antique corkscrews with Southold Historical Society, Photo: 123RF

Southold Historical Society is continuing efforts to crowdsource materials and content for Clink! A Toast to North Fork Winean upcoming summer exhibition, from June to October, about the wine industry on the North Fork.

Back in early January, Society Executive Director Karen Lund Rooney set this unique approach in motion, for this particular show, by sending out a call for local people to share memories about the wine industry and help choose photographs for the exhibition in a January 17 roundtable session. More recently, Rooney and her assistant, Deanna Walker, asked North Forkers to submit small wine-related artifacts to be displayed in Clink! A Toast to North Fork Wine.

Participants in the fruitful roundtable session viewed more than 100 photographs of area wineries and vineyards—and the people who run them—discussing which ones best represent the local wine industry’s history, and the order in which they should be arranged. Twenty photos were eventually selected for display in a visual essay for the exhibition, which  will be on view at the Society’s Ann Currie-Bell House. Additionally, they offered memories and thoughts, as only locals could, to tell the story of this vital East End business.

Rooney says the roundtable sessions first began in 2016 with the goal of shaping the Southold Historical Society’s focus. In time, they landed on more contemporary history, specifically the North Fork wine industry. “It served a lot of different purposes,” she explains, noting that local winemaking dates back to the settlers, but the industry is really just 40 years old.

Now is the time to preserve that history, “so we don’t lose that piece of it,” Rooney adds, also acknowledging that this particular story will attract more people to the museum.

Development of the visual essay is made possible by a grant from the Robert David Lion Foundation, which gave Southold Historical Society funds to hire local professional photographer David Benthal, who visited area wineries and took pictures for the exhibition.

In an effort to collect artifacts, the Southold Historical Society recently requested donations or loans of early winery hand tools, including such objects as vine or grafting knives, grape shears, corkscrews, wine thieves or any other interesting objects people might have. So far, they’ve received mostly paper items, but Rooney hopes more significant objects “from people in the field” will come in time.

The Historical Society did try plumbing the more than 25,000 artifacts in their permanent collection for items to show in Clink! A Toast to North Fork Wine, but “We were almost totally lacking,” Rooney says, though she did find some labels, bottles and announcements among the paintings, ceramics, decoys, decorative arts and furniture, documents, maps, books, textiles, farm equipment, carriages, tools, whaling objects and more. Unfortunately, she says, they found “nothing very meaty that would really put you there.”

But it might take some years for certain elements to be put in place. “This is an ongoing project,” Rooney points out.

That said, Clink! A Toast to North Fork Wine will begin with the photographs and, if people provide the content, ideally continue with a section of artifacts.

After the exhibition closes, it will be moved to a permanent home in the Society’s Barn Annex, where it can be expanded upon over time.

Anyone with objects for this exhibition can contact Executive Director Karen Lund Rooney at [email protected] or Assistant Director Deanna Walker at [email protected]. Or call 631-765-5500, ext 2 or 3.

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