Nantucket Wine & Food Festival Owner Isn't Selling Or Rebranding, Lawsuit Filed

NANTUCKET, MA — The woman known to many as the wine queen of Nantucket is suing a Waltham-based company over what she believes is an attempt to steal the wine and food festival she’s been running on the island for over a decade.

Nancy Bean has operated the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival since 2013, drawing thousands of people to the island annually just for the event.

In a lawsuit filed against David Gordon and the Gordon Companies, she alleges that Gordon’s recently launched Nantucket Food and Wine Experience is an attempt to confuse the public and effectively take over her festival, complete with a “false and misleading media blitz” that said Bean’s festival had been purchased and rebranded, claiming, essentially, that it no longer exists.

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That, Bean and her attorney said, is not true.

“For nearly three decades, the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival has been a beloved island tradition. Since joining its leadership over 15 years ago, I’ve been a part of its growth into a world-class celebration of wine, culinary excellence, and island spirit,” Bean said in a statement.

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“We’ve faced challenges, but the unwavering support from our community, patrons, and vendors has always seen us through. The recent outpouring of encouragement has been deeply touching. It reminds us why we pour our hearts into this festival year after year. As we look ahead, we’re filled with gratitude and determination. The Nantucket Wine & Food Festival is more than an event – it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of our extraordinary island and its people.”

In June, a news release was sent to multiple media members stating there was “new management overseeing the newly branded Nantucket Food & Wine Experience for 2025.” Further, the release highlighted that “one of the nation’s longest running food and wine events returns to Nantucket on May 14-18, 2025.”

That’s not true, the company later conceded, as they had not purchased the festival. The May 14-18 dates are also the same as Bean had already announced for her 2025 festival.

“We have partnered with the White Elephant in a multi-year deal to produce a new event. In no way are we affiliated with any other event or festival on Nantucket,” a portion of the clarification read.

The initial release further stated that White Elephant Hotel, which has hosted the festival Bean runs for years, had committed to hosting the Gordon event, something they now face litigation over as part of the lawsuit.

“We are honored that our harborside hotel will continue to serve as the official host for this dynamic partnership with The Gordon Companies. We look forward to carrying on the tradition of providing food and wine excellence for locals and visitors alike on beautiful Nantucket,” White Elephant Resorts President Khaled Hashem said in the statement.

As part of the lawsuit, Bean and company are seeking legal action against White Elephant for breach of contract, as the hotel is currently in an agreement to host Bean’s festival in 2025.

The lawsuit, and conversations with people close to the situation, point to a longer-term effort to take over the festival.

Patch learned that representatives from the Gordon Companies had inquired about potentially buying the festival prior to their announcement that a new one would be launched, but that no formal agreement had ever been reached and Bean had previously outrighted declined their offers.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Gordon had enlisted counsel well-known to their company to advise Bean on the process of buying out a former partner of the festival in 2022.

Through this, the lawsuit alleges, the attorney shared confidential information about the festival’s performance, vendor relationships, sponsorship agreements and event planning as part of the group’s “plan to take over the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival from the Nantucket Wine & Food Parties.”

As for the Wine & Food Festival in 2025, Bean still plans to host the event, but where that may happen is undecided.

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