Locavore Twilight picnic draws crowd to Hunt Country

John Christensen
Jon Hunt talks with guests about some of the locally-grown produce at the Hunt Country Twilight Picnic Aug. 18.

Well over 100 guests joined the Hunt family for a twilight picnic to remember among their beautiful vineyards  at Hunt Country Vineyards in Branchport Saturday, Aug. 18 to witness the official opening of Hunt Country’s Locavore Room, devoted to the sale of locally produced foods and to the spirit of “Supporting the home team!”

Everyone enjoyed a bounty of Finger Lakes-produced foods, prepared by Chef Mary Campbell of Medleys Cafe in Prattsburgh, including fresh organic vegetables from Jonathan and Caroline Boutard Hunt’s Italy Hill Produce, located right on the Hunt family’s farm, and delicious locally-raised meats.

The excellent menu included;

• Tomatillo gazpacho with garlic croutons

• Grilled corn and black bean salad with cilantro

• Balsamic glazed grilled vegetables

• Grilled organic, locally-raised 100 percent grass-fed beef, served with fresh herb and gorgonzola pesto over wilted greens

• Sweet and sour Thai barbecue free-range chicken

• Ice creams, sorbets, local fruit, and cookies made from local ingredients

• Hunt Country wine of choice for the adults, or grape juice.

Live music  was provided by Washington D.C.-based “The Stick Mob,” featuring daughter/sister/vocalist Suzanne Hunt, along with Marcos Harkness on guitar and mandolin, and Kathleen Mogelgaard on fiddle.

The perfect sunny day and cool night under a white pavillion, overlooking the vineyards and fields that produced much of the food, was an unparalled setting for the “farm to table dinner” envisioned by matriarch Joyce Hunt. Pater familias Arthur Hunt supervised haywagon rides through the vineyards, while heir-apparent Jonathan gave an informational guided tour of Italy Hill Produce’s organic operation, experimental successes and failures, and their future plans. Seventh generation Will Hunt at 19 months, already shows his keen interest in everything growing on the family farm.

Jon and Caroline explained that only three acres are currently producing vegetables, with most of the work done by their own hands, but that next year, there will be 24 certified organic acres where old concord vineyards have been pulled out.

Those fields, currently planted with buckwheat, will be put to use for a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, small grains, popcorn, and pasture-raised chickens.

The Locavore Room at Hunt Country Vineyards and the Farm to Table Dinner are just the latest expression of the Hunt family’s seven-generation-long commitment to the agricultural economy and diversity of Yates County, the Finger Lakes, and New York State.

For more information about Hunt Country Vineyards, visit www.huntwines.com. Look for Italy Hill Produce on Facebook.

About 100 guests enjoyed local foods and wines at the Hunt Country Twilight Picnic Aug. 18.