File image (credit: AP)

THE place to officially kick off the summer season of wine is – hands down – the Nantucket Wine Festival, May 18-22.  Winemakers from around the world gather on Nantucket’s tiny slip of an island for a jam-packed four days of food and wine indulgence. Here are some highlights, along with a few suggestions for when you need a break from the action. Zig when everyone else is zagging, and come away with a true taste of the real Nantucket.

Great Wines in Grand Houses

Various days and times
Imagine yourself tucked away in one of Nantucket’s gorgeous private homes, being led through an intimate tasting with the winemakers themselves from any number of world-class estates. Alex Gambal. Signorello. Miner. Cliff Lede. Amapola Creek. Just you, them, and the wines. Oh, and the multi-million dollar home you’re borrowing for the afternoon. Panoramic vistas of Nantucket included. Event details & tickets.

A Century of Tawny Porto, Tasting with George Sandeman

Friday, May 20 at 10:30 a.m.
Ever wonder what, really, is the big deal about aged tawny ports? Make a beeline to this tasting to find out for yourself. Partly because you’ll taste through ports that are 10, 20, 30, and 40 years old. And partly because you’ll taste them with the heir to the Sandeman house. When you’re born with port in your blood, you get to know a thing or two. Might as well learn for yourself at the source! Event details & tickets.

File image (credit: AP)

Harbor Gala at the White Elephant Hotel

Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m.
Sometimes it’s all about efficiency. Like getting your best wines, foie gras, and caviar all in one place over the course of a single evening. That’s what happens Thursday night at the Harbor Gala. Here’s what – and who – you’re in for: Andy Husbands of Tremont 647, Deborah Hanson of Taberna de Haro, Gabe Thompson of dell’anima (Manhattan), Rick Bishop of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and Liliana Dougan, Nantucket’s own Pasta Goddess. Event details & tickets.

Post-Gala Party with Cisco Brewery

Thursday, May 19 at 9:30 p.m.
Even a wine lover in the middle of wine heaven needs a taste of something different. Get your palate cleanse on at the beach, after the Gala on Thursday night until the wee hours of the morning. Cisco Brewery will be there to taste through their new line called the Woods; beers will be paired with food from Galley Beach’s resident chef. Go for the beer. The food. The cocktails. The after-party. Or all of the above. Event details & tickets.

Celebrity Chef and Winemaker Auction Dinner

Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m.
Even if you aren’t in a bidding mood, this is the place to take in some serious auction action. Auction items include a private dinner party at Tim Mondavi’s house in Napa. (Seriously. He also happens to be the honored Luminary of the Year.) Drinks at the auction dinner? Veuve Clicquot and Newton Vineyards. Food? Prepared by Brooke Vosika, Executive Chef at the Four Seasons in Boston. Can you go wrong? Nope. All proceeds benefit the Nantucket Historical Association. Event details & tickets.


Credit: Ara Charder

(credit: Ara Charder)

Take a Walk

Think cobblestone streets. 86 miles of beaches. Historic architecture (Nantucket boasts the largest concentration of pre-Civil War architecture in the country). Window shop. Feel the sand in your toes. Exhale.

Feast Locally

Get off the beaten cobblestone path, too, and duck into one of the island’s renowned restaurants. They’re renowned for different reasons, which makes it all the more fun! Check out American Seasons – all-American wine list, local produce. The Chicken Box – fried chicken plus live music. Siam to Go – for snacks like Thai Green Curry and fried dumplings. Hungry yet?

Yoga and Pilates

Chill out with Mellow Yoga, Meditation, or Taoist Yoga at the Yoga Room. Or work on your core with the woman who introduced Pilates to Nantucket, Lisa Silveira, back in 1994. It’s all about balance.

Visit Triple Eight Distillery

Triple Eight Distillery is home to Nantucket’s first legal spirits producer, and in 2000 they started producing Notch, Nantucket’s first single malt whiskey. Happily, Triple Eight Distillery is open daily AND it’s right next door to Cisco Brewers and Nantucket Vineyard on Bartlett Farm Road.

Get a Little Historical

Maybe that means shopping for vintage clothes or home items (be sure to stop by Current Vintage, located at 4 Easy Street. Maybe it means visiting the Whaling Museum for an in-depth look at Nantucket’s commercial formation. Or maybe it means checking out the Maria Mitchell House, home of one of the first female astronomers.

Cathy Huyghe is the founder of, a website about drinking wine every day in the Boston area, and Red White Boston, a for-profit marketing service that designs and promotes wine events in the Boston area.


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