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Summer Season Kickoff: MVwinefest

How do I even begin to describe the fabulous experience of MVWinefest? From the moment Dave and I arrived on the Vineyard Friday afternoon, a glass of wine was never further than arm’s reach and the ocean was always within view. We started the weekend festivities at the Real Men Drink Pink event at the Vineyard Square hotel. As a huge fan of rose, it was great way to kick off a fabulous couple of days. We were able to mingle with other MVWinefest guests and the other bloggers who attended the trip. One of the bloggers was my friend, and cookbook author, Dan Whalen of The Food in My Beard. Dan was on island to compete in the Bubbles & Burger Battle as well as host a delicious dinner with Peak Organic Brewing. I’ll elaborate more on both of those events a little later.

With several glasses of rose downed, we headed next door to The Sydney which became our home for the weekend. Part of the Lark Hotel group, the Sydney underwent a massive renovation last year and is a shining beauty of Edgartown. Sitting above l’etoile restaurant, The Sydney is a laid back, yet very Martha’s Vineyard chic property. Check-in was a breeze as our key was left outside the door to our room. Arrangements were made ahead of time via email which explained the self check-in process and a phone number was provided for questions. As with all Lark Hotels, the room was stunning utilizing bold patterns and colors against a neutral backdrop. One of our favorite parts of stay with Lark Hotels is the bedding and pillows. Fluffy, beyond soft, and lush are the only ways to describe the bedding through the collection. We dropped off our Hudson Sutler duffle bags, changed outfits, and headed to 119 North Water Street for a dinner hosted by Frog’s Leap Winery.

The Sydney

All of the dinners during MVWinefest take place in gorgeous luxury homes which are all for sale. Both of my dinners were at 119 North Water Street which is listed for a casual $8 millions dollars and situated right on the ocean. With views of Edgartown Light and Chappy, it was truly breathtaking. The dinner was prepared by Peter Lodi of Blue Crab Kitchen. Each of the 7 courses was more delicious and indulgent than the next and expertly paired with Frogs Leap wine. My favorite of the evening was a 1990 merlot that was opened exclusively for this event. Frog’s Leap is the only solar powered winery in Napa, adding to its appeal. It was a leisurely 3 hour dinner that ended with great conversation between the guests, homeowner, and chef. After such a large meal, we headed back to The Sydney to sink into those plush, luxurious sheets for the night.

One of the most charming amenities of The Sydney is the locally curated breakfast box that is delivered to your doorstep each morning. A mixture of sweet and savory breakfast items, there was ample breakfast choices for both Dave and me. Plus, piping hot Chilmark coffee. It was a real treat to have breakfast in bed two days in a row. While the breakfast box was ample, we were scheduled for a breakfast at 44 Water Street, another home for sale in Edgartown hosting a meal during MVWinefest. Because I can’t get enough sweets, I ordered a delicious waffle with heaps of whipped cream and fresh fruit. To get a jump on the day, hair of the dog was necessary in the form of a mimosa AND bloody mary. And no, I’m not apologizing for it. Post breakfast, we headed outside to an awaiting Stagecoach Taxi for a private island tour lead by Nancy Gardella of the Edgartown Chamber of Commerce. Already being familiar with MV, I was hesitant to take a tour, assuming I knew all there was to know about the island. However, Nancy was a fabulous tour guide pointing out lesser-known sites as well filling us in on local history, lore, and trivia. The tour looped us through Gay Head Light and Menemsha, two of my favorite places on the island. To top it all off, we cracked open a some cans of Lila wine to toast Nancy and a successful tour.

Next up we met up with Dan at the Bubbles & Burger Battle complete with unlimited Veuve Clicquot. Not bad for a mid-Saturday afternoon. Dan and the 3 other chefs served up their finest sliders for guests to sample. I had one of each. Dave had 7 sliders total… We each voted for our favorite, then cried when Dan’s Isaan Beef Burgers did not turn out victorious. Beyond Dan being a friend of mine, his burgers were honestly the most delicious and juiciest of them all. A short walk from the MV Museum (where the burger battle went down) was the Grand Tasting at The Kelly House or THE event of the weekend. With wine as far as the eye can see, we sampled wine from around the world alongside local beers and spirits. Perhaps one of the highlights was Latitude Beverages sampling the Lila Wine I mentioned earlier. Yes, wine in a can does taste just as good as the stuff from the bottle. Plus it’s a hell of a lot easier to drink while walking down the street.

At the Grand Tasting with the most fabulous ladies on all of MV

The Grand Tasting was just around the corner from The Sydney where we decided to enjoy a bottle (ok bottles) of wine on the front lawn. One of the best spots to see and be seen in Edgartown, the lawn at The Sydney was the perfect spot for people watching, and a little bit of heckling (because after a day of drinking, it comes with the territory.) After another quick change (and another bottle of wine), Dave and I headed back to 119 North Water to attend Dan Whalen’s Peak Organic Brewing dinner. I said it before, Dan and I are buddies, but his dinner was one of the highlights of the weekend. Laid back, easy, yet incredibly delicious, Dan has a way of balancing creative preparations in familiar dishes and flavors. For me, the best of the six dishes was the skirt steak tacos with homemade corn tortillas. I could have eaten about 20 of them. Peak Organic Brewing paired beers with each of the courses including their Maple Collaboration that we expertly mixed with their Nut Brown Ale. Nothing like topping off a day of drinking with mixing a couple beers and drinking more. (Photo by SmithBites)

Sunday morning came all too early with a hangover that not even a handful of Advil could quell. But we rallied (because we’re troopers like that) and headed back to 44 Water Street for a Oyster & Bubbles brunch around the quaint pool in the $4 million home’s back yard. The event was indulgent to say the least, sipping champagne and slurping oysters at 11am. I was able to wrangle the group of bloggers to snap a photo with Marnely Murray, MVWinefest organizer, and our host for the weekend. Marnely put together an amazing itinerary that was all encompassing and showed all the best MV has to offer. Ms. Murray, thank you for being such a gracious host.

To top it all off, we received VIP gift bags chock full of swag from Polar Seltzer, Norton Point Sunglasses (photo shoot coming soon), Barkthins, Pretzel Crisps, Lila Wine and Murdicks Fudge. I’m lucky enough to receive gift bags at events regularly and I have to say, this is one of the best I’ve receive in recent memory. It was a magical weekend for Dave and I on MV and one not soon forgotten. We look forward to attending MV later in the season and staying at the newest Lark Hotel, The Christopher, very soon.

Lark Hotels and MVWinefest provided travel consideration in exchange for event coverage. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

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