Nantucket Wine Festival 4 min read

Vintners and consumers are exceptionally enthusiastic about a very special event that takes place in May on the historic island of Nantucket, thirty miles off Cape Cod. Now in its 19th year, the Nantucket Wine Festival (NWF) has become one of the most coveted wine and food affairs in the country.


Virtually overnight, the laid back, impossibly charming vacation spot transforms into an epicenter of world-class wines and spectacular food. Over hundred and fifty wineries and dozens of restaurants await your presence, ready to entice you with some of the most memorable sips and mouth-watering bites that are sure to wow even the most sophisticated palate. NWF brings together vintners, chefs, wine personalities and three thousand gourmands from around the world.


The program is quite extensive and features over sixty events taking place over a course of five days.  The event offers wine tastings, educational seminars, cooking demonstrations, lovely luncheons and extravagant dinners. A unique feature is the The Great Wines in Grand Homes offering attendees the rare opportunity to attend intimate and ultra exclusive wine dinners featuring renown winemakers and chefs in Nantucket’s private homes.


In a conversation with Donald Patz, of Patz and Hall, about the event, one theme kept coming up – the organizers thoughtful and considerate approach to the event’s agenda. In the world of a prominent vintner who attends a great number of events on the regular basis an opportunity to have a quality festival experience is rarer than one might imagine. Patz spoke fondly of the stellar selection of presenters, exceptional wines, and the high quality of seminars. He noted that the event is known for it’s outstanding organization and execution. From a vintner’s point of view, this event offers an excellent opportunity to connect with his supporters; to facilitate that to perfection is no small feat.


As a consumer, I can attest to the world of difference between a nice experience and simply a great one. All of the events I attend are pleasurable affairs; many with a healthy dose of education. Very few qualify as intimate, thoughtful gatherings, where one can have a heartfelt exchange with a vintner and/or chef of your dreams.


In that spirit, here are some key Napa Valley wine personalities, most of whom I know personally, and can validate the thoughtful choice, presenting their brands:


  • Sean Larkin, of his namesake brand, which is focused on Cab Franc.
  • Michael Browne, winemaker of cult Pinot Noirs, Kosta Browne and Cirq.
  • Austin Peterson of Ovid Vineyards, which specializes in masterful Bordeaux blends.
  • Matt Hobbs of Paul Hobbs wines, famous for his sublime Russian River Valley Pinots.
  • Kale Anderson of Pahlmeyer, the winery that redefined California Merlot.
  • Stuart Bryan of Pride Mountain Vineyards, the brand that is synonymous with extraordinary mountain-fruit reds.
  • Remi Cohen of Cliff Lede vineyards, the industry’s biggest rock star, literally.
  • Daniel Daou, whose passion for viticulture is matched only by his winemaking prowess. Find out more about Daniel and DAOU Vineyards here.

Here is a sampling of activities to get you in the mood:


  • A tasting of aged classic California Cabernets of Ridge, Montelena, Beaulieu Vineyard, Stags’ Leap Wine Cellars and Joseph Phelps.
  • 1945 Bordeaux paired with a once in lifetime dinner prepared by Chef Brooke Vosika, formerly of the Four Seasons in Boston.
  • Treats from Oregon, presented by Lynn Penner-Ash herself, one of the most renowned winemakers in the region.
  • In the mood for bubbles? No problem… your options are to sip and savor legendary Champagne Krug or pop in for a luxurious Champagne Ruinart Brunch. Ruinart’s winemaker, Frédéric Panaïotis will pour 2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and 2002 Rosé.

As a California wine lover, I look forward to a whirlwind tasting journey of some of my favorite wine regions such as Sonoma Coast (Flowers), Mayacamas Mountains (Long Meadow Ranch), Napa/Sonoma (Pride Mountain), Diamond Mountain (Lokoya) and Pritchard Hill (Ovid).


Vintner and winemaker Daniel Daou, one of the luminaries featured, had this to say: “We are excited to present our finest wines to the discerning consumers attending the Nantucket Wine Festival. This will be the first grand event DAOU attends on the East Coast, and we believe that the style of our wines will bode well with the sophisticated palates who support this superb event.”


If you are still not convinced, consider this: vast majority of the festival’s events are for the charity; with proceeds benefiting many of the island’s non-profit organizations. This year, NWF is committed to support a bevy of youth programs, including the Nantucket High School Culinary Arts Program. What can be better than supporting future culinary talent while partaking in the gifts of the present one?


Food (and wine) for thought. On May 13th-17th, you could be doing household chores or rubbing elbows with the finest chefs and winemakers in the country, while sampling their wares. If you are a bona fide oenophile, foodie, or bon vivant, you are in for days of unadulterated pleasure. See you soon.


Ilona Thompson

Ilona Thompson is Editor-in-Chief at PalateXposure, a destination site for oenophiles, gourmands and luxury travelers. She also recently launched #Wine, a site dedicated to wines and spirits reviews, and #Photography, a site devoted to high-quality wine, food, and travel related photography.

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