A common question that gets asked on the Island is “Where are the vineyards on Martha’s Vineyard?” The answer is simple: there are none! Truth be told, Martha’s Vineyard isn’t an ideal place for farming grapes. With sandy soil, unpredictable weather, and high deer populations, grape production is a very difficult task - but how, then, did it get the name?
A Brief History. Believe it or not, the Island got its name from the many wild vines that still cover the Island today. The Island has had several names, but was named Martha’s Vineyard after the daughter of explorer Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602. There actually weren’t any proper wineries on the Island until 1971, when Chicama Vineyards opened its doors in West Tisbury.
Chicama Vineyards took on a great challenge by growing grapes on Martha’s Vineyard, especially since many of their grapes were of European variety. Their grape vines covered 50 acres, with varieties such as Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Zinfandel, and more. The business was family owned and operated by the Mathiesens, and ran for over 30 years before closing its doors in 2008.
Shop Local. Since the closing of Chicama Vineyards, there haven’t been any wineries or vineyards on the Island, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find good wine on your trip! Both Edgartown and Oak Bluffs offer several liquor stores, including Rosewater Wine and Spirits, Our Market, and MV Wine and Spirits, to name a few.
Wine and Dine. Many restaurants across the Island offer a variety of local and imported wines. Spark romance at Detente in Edgartown, which has an extensive wine list alongside New American cuisine. Take it to-go at Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, which offers a selection of sparkling, white, and red wine paired with fresh seafood. Or, escape to Italy in Vineyard Haven’s La Soffita, which offers authentic modern Italian dishes with a very large selection of wine.
Get Bad. Another local business does use grapes to make alcoholic beverages, but not in the way you might expect! Bad Martha Farmer's Brewery uses grape leaves harvested on the Island as an ingredient in their draft beers. Their brewery and tasting room on Upper Main Street in Edgartown provides a full experience with fresh beer, charcuterie, outdoor games, and live music.
Washashore to enjoy Offshore. Offshore Ale Company is the only brew-pub on-Island, serving award winning small batch craft beer year round since 1997. The brewery offers several varieties from crisp and malty to bold and hoppy, amidst a casual “boathouse-style atmosphere.” Housed in the iconic City Ale and Oyster building (the business’ original name that still decorates the front of the building today), Offshore Ale is located at the corner of Kennebec and Healy avenues in Oak Bluffs. The brew pub has become well-known among locals and visitors alike, a popular gathering place that also offers wood-fired pizza, local seafood, and a genuine commitment to community.
Savor the Flavors of Fall. In the month of October, the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce will be celebrating the rich food offerings across the Island with a series of unique culinary happenings, including the annual Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival which will be reimagined this year, but still just as delicious. Consider visiting us in October to get a full taste of what the Island has to offer!
As the weather warms and restrictions are being lifted, many of Martha’s Vineyard’s beloved events and happenings are popping back up on the calendar, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Finally, a sense of normalcy is returning and our Island is anticipating a bustling season like no other.
Here’s a round-up of some of the highlights we’re looking forward to for the upcoming months, which is sure to be a constantly evolving list. For a daily calendar of events on Martha’s Vineyard visit the calendar here. We look forward to a happy, healthy, and festive summer and we hope we’ll be able to enjoy it too
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is kicking off the season with the return of its popular Drive-in Series at the YMCA in Oak Bluffs. Each showing is pay-what-you-can, but make sure to order your tickets in advance! Find the full schedule for Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival showings and community events for summer 2021 here.
The Vineyard Artisans Festival returns with their Memorial Day Festival at the historic Grange Hall in West Tisbury. This Festival exclusively features all-Island artisans with local handmade crafts such as jewelry, ceramics, clothing, and more! The Festival runs on May 29th and 30th from 10 am - 4 pm and will return weekly on Sundays starting June 13th.
Starting Saturday, June 12th, the West Tisbury Farmers Market returns! This farmers market is Martha's Vineyard's oldest, largest, and finest open-air market. Featuring goods such as Cottage City Oysters seafood, chocolate from Enchanted Chocolates, Island Bee Company honey, flowers from Tea Lane Farm, Grey Barn cheese, and so much more! Consider stopping by the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury on Saturdays through October, and Thursdays starting July 1st.
After a hiatus in 2020, the Chilmark Flea Market is set to return in late June. The Flea Market is hosted by the Chilmark Community Church and is open from 9 am – 2 pm Wednesdays and Saturdays, June 30-September 11. It’s the oldest outdoor venue on the Island boasting an eclectic array of goods sure to satisfy any shopper. Discover high-quality handmade items from Vineyard artists and craftsmen, antiques, imports, and vintage finds.
The Vineyard Cup Regatta will be hosted on the 10th and 11th by Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard on the waters of Nantucket Sound and Vineyard Sound. The proceeds from the two-day sailing race help support the year-round maritime programs of Sail Martha’s Vineyard.
The following weekend, Edgartown Yacht Club is hosting their Edgartown Race Weekend. The weekend kicks off with the ‘Round-The-Buoy Races, starting Thursday, July 22nd through Friday, July 23rd. Following on Saturday is the ‘Round-The-Island Race.
In Vineyard Haven on the weekend of the 23rd of July, Beach Road Weekend returns! Hosted in Veterans Memorial Park from Friday to Sunday, enjoy live music from jam band moe. and blues-rock band Tedeschi Trucks. Make sure to get your tickets in advance!
Starting Thursday, August 5th through August 9th, the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival will be hosted at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and the Chilmark Community Center. This series will feature 15 of the country’s leading authors over the course of 5 days, and each talk will be live-streamed so those who can’t join, can join in virtually!
That same weekend is the Chilmark Road Race, which will be virtual this year, which means you can be anywhere in the world and join in! This 5k race helps fund the Chilmark Community Center. Online registration starts June 1st.
To our delight, the Agricultural Fair is back! From August 19th - 22nd, the Fair is being hosted at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury and will be following COVID-19 safety guidelines and precautions. With food, shopping, and activities for the whole family to enjoy, the Agricultural Fair is a must every year.
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