Is there a vineyard on Martha’s Vineyard? It’s a deceptively simple question. With “vineyard” in the name, you’d expect to find some kind of wine-making traditions on the island, right? The answer may surprise you. It’s a story that harkens back to the first settlement of the island, beginning with an exciting journey across the Atlantic Ocean, and ending (in our version) appropriately on the balcony with a glass of vintage.
Settling the Age-Old Question: Is There a Vineyard on Martha’s Vineyard?
How Martha’s Vineyard Got Its Name
Brace yourselves, because we may have to break some hearts here. Martha’s Vineyard was founded in the early 1600’s by Bartholomew Gosnold, founder of the Virginia Company of London and leader of the first recorded European expedition to what we now call New England. Impressive, right? On May 21, 1602, he and his crew of 32 arrived on the shores of an island off the coast of Cape Cod. He observed many vines covering the island (the same varieties that can be seen today) and dubbed the tiny island Martha’s Vineyard after his daughter. Much to the despair of wine-loving visitors, however, grape-bearing vines were not included among the local flora. We like to say all this confusion is entirely Bartholomew’s fault.
But, Vino Aficionados Aren’t Entirely Out of Luck…
True, vineyards and wineries haven’t been a significant part of the island’s agriculture (Martha’s Vineyard has had exactly one wine-producing vineyard, which closed in 2008 after 37 years of production) but there are still plenty of ways to fill your wine glass on the island, including some very awesome festivals. In May, wine-lovers flock to the MV Wine Fest, a multi-day celebration of food and wine, with past events ranging from oyster adventures to Napa cabernet tastings. On a similar note, every October the island welcomes the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival for four days and four nights of island indulgence. The festival’s a la carte events list treats your tastebuds to the island’s farming and fishing traditions — paired with a glass of red or white, of course.
So, wine lovers, while there isn’t an actual vineyard on Martha’s Vineyard, we trust you’ll find a way to marry your island vacation with a glass of your favorite vintage. We may not have rolling vineyard hills to gaze at, but Vineyard Square does happen to be a short two-minute walk to a superb selection at Vintage MV Wine & Spirits — and to us, there’s nothing more enjoyable than a glass or two with an Edgartown harbor view.