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Making Long Island's wine country successful

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Dan's Harvest East End, a wine and food festival organized by Dan's Papers and the Long Island Wine Council, brought together over 40 local vineyards and 30 top chefs representing the rich agricultural resources that stem from the Long Island region. The fifth annual event took place Saturday night at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue, NY, on the North Fork wine trail. McCall's is nestled within miles of vineyards on RT 25. All of these neighboring vineyards offer open doors for the public. Since 2010 Harvest East End has raised over $153,000 in funds that benefit Peconic Land Trust and the Long Island Farm Bureau.

At the start of the event, NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo presented a new advertising campaign that will promote Long Island's wine and beverage industries. The state will allocate $300,000 to increase international awareness of the region's tourism opportunities, such as North Fork's wine trail, open distilleries and a number of restaurants owned by top chefs who source from local farmers.

Cuomo explained that the campaign will also include partnerships with New York City's transportation companies to increase travel options for visitors coming from the city.

"New York's agricultural industry produces some of the best craft beverages in the world, and its small businesses support jobs and tourism revenue in communities across the state,” said Cuomo.

Jim Waters, owner of Waters Crest Winery, explained that Long Island's wine country produces about 500,000 cases a year which are mainly distributed within the tri-state area.

"We're a very tiny region yet we compete in the global market," said Waters.

Fundraisers like Harvest East End are great promotional tools that have increased Long Island's wine sales. But Waters notes that considering the wide distribution and size of California's vineyards, there will never be a saturation of Long Island wines on the market.

Nonetheless, the Long Island Wine Council aims to increase awareness of the success these wineries have had in preserving land across the region despite its small size.

A representative from Coffee Pot Cellars explained that not only does Long Island's wine industry create jobs, "it also protects the local environment from being over-developed with suburban housing."

The Peconic Land Trust and the Long Island Farm Bureau protect land values on the East End, and protect farmers' interests on the state and national level. Charity benefits like Harvest East End are programs that aim to fund these organizations and keep the East End in an open-space direction by providing a channel for sustainable resources to flourish.

Vineyards like Palmer, Martha Clara, and McCall are all major players in Long Island's effort to boost eco-tourism and the local economy.

You can visit the North Fork's wine trail by taking I-495 E to RT 25 or take the LIRR to Mattituck station and work your way from there.

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