John Clift has been the sommelier and beverage director at Atria in Edgartown for nine years. For six months of the year he works every single day at the restaurant, and now at Hooked, too. For the rest of the year he travels for both business and pleasure, which in his case amounts to the same activity. He visits wineries all over the world. This past winter he visited California, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Italy, Egypt and Abu Dhabi.
This description of Mr. Clift’s off-season lifestyle is not intended to generate envy, although it certainly could. Rather, it is to show his bona fides as a man who knows not just a lot about food and wine, but also understands the joy in discovering new tastes at affordable prices. His research is about to be the Vineyard’s gain.
On May 9 through 12, Mr. Clift, along with cofounder Angela Vezzose (also of Atria), are hosting a wine festival on the Island. The four-day festival will take place at restaurants and homes around the Island and include an array of tastings and dinners plus an oyster and wine cruise. Billy Manson of the Wild Food Challenge fame will be cooking a locally-sourced meal on Thursday, May 9, beginning at 7 p.m. What does one pair with stinging nettles anyway?
“It is cool to see how an event can come to life,” Mr. Clift said. “You are emailing people all over the world and then it comes together almost organically. We have had to turn wineries away.”
To market the event, Mr. Clift offered a poster challenge. The winner was Zoe Fisher, whose poster features 12 wine bottles, each one decorated with a particularly Vineyard them. “Once you look at it, you spend time with it,” Mr. Clift said. “You want to read all the different wines.”
After the festival Mr. Clift’s handiwork can continue to be enjoyed at Atria, Hooked and at home, too. He is in the process of opening a boutique wine shop and coffee bar in Nevin Square. The shop should be open by May.
For more information about the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival visit winefestmv.com.