Lenz Winery, at 38355 Main Road (Route 25) in Peconic, always feels like a good North Fork pitstop (sort of like the Milk Pail in Water Mill, on the South Fork). There’s the soaring barn that serves as tasting room, the range of excellent wines from Eric Fry–including reds made from some of the oldest merlot vines in the country–and close proximity to foodie destinations like Sang Lee Farms and Catapano Dairy in Peconic, the Love Lane food strip in Mattituck, and now a Saturday afternoon farmers market at the winery planned for April 23, in celebration of Earth Day. (See below for a full list of farmers and foodmakers who will be there.)
The market was the brainchild of Dorothy-Dean Thomas, who first envisioned this “pairing of local agricultural businesses with winery tourism” eight years ago. Thomas also launched the winery’s Dinner in the Vines program, modeled after the Farmers & Chefs Markets that they used to hold in her hometown of Napa, CA, and she said chefs might be featured at the occasional Lenz market in the future.
Helping to implement the market were also East End edible supercouple Tom and Mary Morgan, both founders of the local Slow Food chapter. Tom heads up sales at Lenz Winery and Mary has lately been helping with winery promotions. (Mary, a grantwriter, also works with the Peconic Land Trust, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Edible East End.)
The Lenz farmers market sets a nice precedent at a time when Long Island wineries have been wrestling with town restrictions on serving food alongside their wines. The restrictions, encouraged by restaurants who say they are protecting their food-offering turf, do seem problematic from the perspective of the eater. And second of all, most restaurants seem tickled pink to have thriving wineries in their midst, not just so they can serve their wine, but because they know popular wineries bring more restaurant customers.
In fact, this past winter, Lenz rolled out a weeklong wine-focused prix fixe promotions at a string of like-minded restaurants like–from west to east–the The Fifth Season in Port Jefferson, Luce & Hawkins and Jamesport Manor Inn in Jamesport, aMano in Mattituck, the North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, and Scrimshaw in Greenport.
The market will feature a range of food-makers, some of whom are familiar to those who frequent other East End farmers markets. Among those confirmed are A Taste of the North Fork, BeePharm, Blossom Meadow Honey, Biophilia Organic Farm, Bulgar USA, Catapano Dairy, Garden Fusion, Home Grown Shocolates, Little Lexi’s Barkery, Martine Abitbol Le Poem, Mecox Dairy, Naturally Handmade by Susan, Food for Forks, Sacred Gardens, Sacred Sweets, The Tea Plant. Five additional monthly markets will be held at Lenz throughout the summer, all from 5-8 p.m., on the following days: Friday July 1, Friday August 5, Saturday September 3 and Saturday October 1. For more information, visit lenzwine.com.