New Exhibition Explores Long Island History Through Wine in Southold

Wine grapes on the vine
Photo: Courtesy Southold Historical Society

Long Island’s relationship with wine goes all the way back to the 1640s when early settlers trained native grapes to grow in arbors behind their homes. Later, the Prince Nursery Company began growing and selling European wine grapes in the late 1700s. The rest, as they say, is history.

Southold Historical Society is exploring this history in a new “visual essay,” Clink! A Toast to Long Island Wine from June 30–October 7. The special exhibition focuses on Long Island’s past by way of winemaking through photographs, paintings, graphs, quotes, music and objects pertaining to the local wine industry.

The visual essay comprises sequences of photographs and other imagery, either original or found, including a series of pictures Southold Historical Society commissioned professional photographer David Benthal to take of area wineries and vineyards. These and photos of the changing workforce, among others, provide a critical commentary of the wine industry on Long Island over the past 40 years. It’s a compelling visual for one of the region’s most well-known traditions.

Part of the "Clink! A Toast to Long Island Wine" visual essay
Part of the “Clink! A Toast to Long Island Wine” visual essay, Photo: Southold Historical Society

Some materials for the show were collected by crowdsourcing via a call for local contributions. The Museum also brought locals in for a roundtable session to help sort through Benthal’s photographs and choose the best images.

At the exhibition, visitors can learn about how and why North Fork soil is perfect for growing wine grapes, and how weather affects the vintage. Viewers will also receive a map of local vineyards and wineries in case the visuals inspire a spontaneous wine tour.

You’ll already be right in the heart of wine country, so hey, “wine not?”

Made possible by a grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, Clink! A Toast to Long Island Wine opens Saturdays and Sundays (and by appointment Wednesdays), 1–4 p.m. from June 30–October 7 at Southold Historical Society’s Mayne Gallery in the Ann Currie-Bell House on the Museum Complex (55200 Main Road and Maple Lane) in Southold.

The Museum is suggesting a donation of $5 per person or $10 per family for entry.

For more information, contact the Southold Historical Society at 631-765-5500, email [email protected] or visit

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