“At Harmony Vineyards, our mission is to be in harmony with both humanity and nature, which also carries over to the idea of music and merriment as well. Our tasting room even has a musical theme; its logo is a stylized treble clef!”
Drink-in Movie Series
Begins at dusk
Thursdays, starting May 16, 2013
Ray Anderson Classic Jazz Albums Live Concert Series Concert 1
Sunday, May 19, 2013 (Sundays thereafter)
169 Harbor Road
Head of the Harbor, NY 11780
If you enjoy classic movies, excellent wines and fabulous jazz music, then head on down to Harmony Vineyards for a relaxing night out! Located in Stony Brook, Long Island, Harmony Vineyards is primed to hit all the right notes –with both their wine and entertainment– and will be hosting two fantastic event series to kick off summer. If you’ve never heard of this local gem and want to really change things up this summer, read on!
The first series, dubbed the “Drink-In Movie” screening series starts at dusk on Thursday, May 16 and will be held weekly on Thursdays, weather permitting. Guests will be able to enjoy a free screening of some classic films, including Casablanca, Splash, Sideways and even the original rendition of the Great Gatsby; all while enjoying some of Harmony’s best wines, which will be available by the bottle, glass or flight.
The second is the “Ray Anderson Classic Jazz Albums Live Concert Series.” Starting this Sunday, May 19, these performances give visitors the chance to hear international trombone virtuoso and local university director, (Stony Brook Dept. of Jazz Studies,) Ray Anderson, play some of jazz’s greatest hits with an all-star band. Covering Miles Davis to Duke Ellington, Anderson will be highlighting some of jazz’s most famous albums for the enjoyment of the vineyard’s guests. The concerts will be presented on the outside grounds adjacent to the Harmony Vineyards Tasting Room. The first performance will be at 5PM and feature Miles Davis’s 1959 work, “Kind of Blue.”
The Drink-in Movie and Concert Series both start in the middle of May and run throughout the summer. LIB Magazine was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with the owner of Harmony Vineyards, Mr. David Acker. (pictured below) Read the exclusive Q&A below to find out more about their summer-long events, the history of the Harmony Vineyards and the company’s dedication to charities!
Hi, David! LIB Magazine and its readers were curious to learn more about your own personal history with wine as well as the history of the Harmony Vineyards and its early days. What can you tell us?
We here at Harmony Vineyards are very historically minded; you know that in the early days Long Island was mostly farmland, correct? I bought East Farm back in 1998 from a family that kept the land true to its farming roots, which has lasted for 300 years. You know, there have only been five owners of East Farm, myself included. The first owner was a man named Richard Smith of Smithtown and the house—well, a mansion originally- itself dates back to 1690. We also turned the main house into a tasting room and decided to move the structure from the center of the farm to a road that is situated right in front of one of the vineyards as well.
In the past, the land had been used for growing crops like green peppers and tomatoes, but they are such boring crops. Since the land is on the waterfront—basically right by Stony Brook Harbor, I decided to take advantage of the unique growing opportunities and decided to use the land to plant grapes instead.
In the beginning, we wanted to focus on the Chardonnay in the Chablis style and red wine in the Bordeaux style. However, from 2005 to 2007 we also wanted to focus on different vintages as well.
Speaking of the tasting room, we finally opened it to the public in June 2013 after pouring in a lot of time and effort to transform it for the modern era. Our visitors love it and love our vineyard as well. Since we’re the only waterfront vineyard, a visit here is a lovely way to spend the day, enjoying fine wine.
So David, is there a unique process that Harmony Vineyards does that sets it apart from the other Long Island-based vineyards?
I think so! The main one is that we are a charity platform and our proceeds go to funding social causes. We donate to both Island Harvest and City Harvest, which are some of the largest food collection organizations in New York. We also donate to The Stony Brook Foundation, Pink Rock, and the East African Center for Women and Children too.
Another aspect that sets us apart is that we’re located right near the water. That means it’s very windy and the close proximity to the harbor means that our grapes have less mold and mildew; plus it also means we don’t have to spray them as much, either! The climate here at Harmony Vineyards is a few weeks warmer than the rest of Long Island, which allows us to have a two week longer growing season. It’s actually very similar to Bordeaux, France and really, there’s no reason not to expect that our grapes would be of lesser quality. Both Harmony and Bordeaux have the same sandy soil, are located forty one degrees north, have the same angle towards the Sun, and the exact same growing period as well.
Referring back to the history of the farm for a moment, as I mentioned before, what is now our tasting room was once a mansion that harkened back to the 1690s. Well, one of the farm’s barn was featured by the widely-recognized American painter William Sidney Mount, as he was first cousins with the owner at the time and lived right around the corner. We have a copy of the painting in the tasting room, and if you look closely you can see his cousin playing the fiddle in the barn!
Another thing that sets us apart is that like other vineyards on Long Island, we also will be holding events-only we have a 3-foot high movie screen and a jazz concert series.
Speaking of the summer events, can you tell me where you got the inspiration for the “Drink-In Movie” and jazz concerts?
At Harmony Vineyards, our mission is to be in harmony with both humanity and nature, which also carries over to the idea of music and merriment as well. Our tasting room even has a musical theme; its logo is a stylized treble clef!
With the jazz concert series, it is due to the fact that jazz is such an important part of American history and as you know, history is quite important to us here at Harmony Vineyards. Plus, Ray Anderson, who is one of the top trombonists, also runs the Jazz department here at Stony Brook University and I proposed the jazz nights as a way to give the proceeds to their program.
With the “Drink-In Movie” series, it again ties into both the historical themes of the tasting room and history of classic and silent movies as well. We’re going to be showing the original “Great Gatsby” in honor the remake coming out and some wine-related films such as “Sideways” and “Bottle Shock” too. Check out our event calendar online to see what movies will be playing each week!
Is there a certain kind of “special” that Harmony Vineyards does for either groups or as a way to educate guests beyond the average wine tasting events? Like a lecture or something similar?
We plan to have a lecture series this fall where a few professors from Stony Brook University talk about marine science in a way that is easy for visitors to understand and that will be meaningful for them too.
David, what is your favorite wine, both in general and from Harmony?
My favorite wine is a Bordeaux blend, which is why I decided to focus on creating my own. My favorite blend is from 2008; the vintage is full-bodied with a very “jammy” taste. It’s a toasty wine with a great nose and a great finish!
With regards to the movies, will there be any theme weeks? Can you also tell me about the process of picking the wines for the movie nights—was it random or did you decide to try and pair them with the film you were playing?
We haven’t thought about having a theme week, but it’s a great idea! We didn’t pair the wines with the movies, but that could be interesting if we could pull it off.
Where did you come up with the idea of the jazz concerts and was it difficult to pick a musician to feature? What was the process like? Is there any jazz musician you’d like to feature in an upcoming event and why?
Honestly, it wasn’t really difficult because we are very lucky to be surrounded by so much local talent. I’d really like to feature a renowned guitarist named Steve Salerno though. There are also two classical musicians I am friendly with who are both recording / touring artists and I’m working on enticing them to come to Harmony for a performance.
On Harmony’s official website, it stated that you have an art gallery. Would you mind telling me more about it? How do you decide which artists to feature?
Since the tasting room was originally a mansion, we decided to turn a number of rooms in the house into art galleries, both for emerging artists and ones who are already established. It’s a great venue that allows people to stop by and see their work!
I usually pick artists that I like, and I haven’t offended anyone yet! (laughs) In the past, we’ve had a few pieces from Salvador Dali and in terms of emerging artists, we also featured a collection from an artist in Connecticut named Sophie Swan, who is super talented.
Artists can contact us via email or by phone, and we sit down to look at their work. We give them a few months to do a show and it’s a great way for them to get exposure, especially since visitors could purchase a few of their pieces as well.
Can you name three fun facts about yourself, the “Drink-In Movie” or jazz concerts that people might not know about you?
Well, with the movies, I was sitting in the vineyard one evening and thinking that this one wall of the house could make a great movie screen. Thanks to how the dinging room wing was constructed, one side is a blank white wall; basically a waste of empty space. So I grabbed a projector to see how it would look, and since it is about three stories high, my idea worked and the “Drink-In” series was born!
With regards to the tasting room, we have a funny inside joke that it was so heavy, it took two people to move. Also, my background is as an inventor of medical devices with a focus in cardiology.
Is there any other unique fact about Harmony or yourself that you’d like to mention?
Yes! Compared to other Long Island vineyards, we are short driving distance away from Brooklyn and an hour and ten minutes away from Manhattan by car. For those who don’t drive, you can also take the LIRR here as well. Honestly, you could go back and forth from Harmony in the time it would take you to visit the other wineries on the Island. It’s not a difficult commute at all!
Well David, it’s been an absolute pleasure to chat with you. We here at LIB Magazine would like to thank you for giving you the opportunity to talk to us about Harmony Vineyards, it sounds like a great place to visit!
To learn more about Harmony Vineyard’s “Drink-In Movie” and Jazz Concert series, please visit their official website.