After weeks (maybe months)Final_logo
of preparation (much more than I ever anticipated), I'm finally ready, willing and able to announce the newest endeavor I've undertaken — TasteCamp EAST 2009, a wine blogger event that will bring more than a dozen wine bloggers to Long Island wine country May 1-3 this spring.

The concept for TasteCamp is a simple one: getting enthusiastic bloggers together in a region that is new to them to taste as much wine as possible and speak to as many winemakers as possible over the course of a weekend. Most smaller, lesser-known wine regions in the world would love to get their wines in front of bloggers, but with TasteCamp, the bloggers will go to them.

So, in partnership with the Wine Bloggers Conference folks, TasteCamp was created by yours truly and a small band of fellow bloggers, including Melissa, Erika, John and Becky.

With me at the helm, it should come as no surprise that we're doing the first one right here on Long Island, with plans to hold the event in the Finger Lakes and Virginia over the next couple of years.

The idea behind adding "EAST" to the end of the name is that if people want to take the concept and run with it in their respective locales, they should. I'd love to know that someone wants to plan TasteCamp NORTH up in Michigan wine country, or maybe TasteCamp SPAIN. Are you listening Catavino? These events are meant to be for wine bloggers, by wine bloggers. And to be about the wines.

Anyway, back to this year's event…

When I first started knocking the idea around in my head, and anyone who knows me knows that I'm a man of a million ideas (follow through is sometimes an issue, however), I thought I'd be lucky to get a half dozen bloggers to say "yes," come to Long Island, and spend the weekend tasting.

But before I knew it, through inviting a few East Coast WBC 08 alums and some other East Coast wine bloggers, we were completely booked before I even had a chance to write this post!

That's the downside to the first one — we're still getting our feet wet with this and Long Island wine country is a relatively small strip of land. We just had to cap it at 30 people. For that, I apologize. (If you'd like to come to TasteCamp EAST 2010, shoot me an email and we'll get you on the invite list.)

For 2009, the festivities will start Friday, May 1 with a reception and dinner at Raphael, co-sponsored by Raphael and the Long Island Merlot Alliance. The plans are still forming, but it looks like we'll be the first to taste a couple single-vineyard sauvignon blancs from Raphael and also get a preview of LIMA's 2006 Merliance as part of a three-year vertical of that co-produced wine.

The plans for Saturday, May 2 are still coming together, but I can tell you that we'll be making visits to five different wineries, including lunch at Shinn Estate Vineyard, which will featured the wines of and be co-hosted by Shinn Estate Vineyards, Jamesport Vineyards and Macari Vineyards. After lunch, I'm hoping that, in conjuntion with the Long Island Wine Council, we'll be able to give wineries that we won't have time to visit a chance to pour for the group.

I'm sure that a lot of people will be traveling back home early on Sunday May 3, but we'll be shooting down to the South Fork of Long Island, aka the Hamptons, to visit Wolffer Estate and Channing Daughters Winery as well. For the beer lovers in the group, we may even stop off at Southampton Publick House on our way back west.

Keep an eye out for more details as they are worked out. And again, I really am sorry that we can't accept any more attendees!

Special thanks go out to PJ Sedgwick, a friend of mine (even if she doesn't drink wine) who created the TasteCamp EAST logo.