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 Salvatore's which offers authentic modern Italian dishes with a very large selection of wine and indoor and outdoor seating.
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. Look out for food and beverage focused events in the fall including the Martha's Vineyard Oyster Festival and the Martha's Vineyard Food and Wine Festival. Consider visiting us in October to get a full taste of what the Island's culinary scene has to offer!
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