Wine Season is truly any season, but there’s something to be said of the romance of a warm twilight evening spent among the vines.
To that end, the warm months are the perfect months to enjoy a trip to the North Fork, where the summer days are warm and the rosé is cool. Here’s the perfect itinerary for a weekend getaway for the summer oenophile.
Where to Stay
Although it boasts a spare four staterooms, the North Fork Table and Inn is one of the most quaint and delightful places to stay on the Wine Trail. Better yet, you can get a meal fix downstairs at the restaurant, which is one of New York’s finest (the James Beard Award-winning team is known for a dedication to fresh, inspiring American cuisine). Continental breakfast is included in the stay. If the Inn is booked (as it often is), opt for the environmentally conscious Greenporter Hotel, which is only a short walk from the great restaurants and waterfront of downtown Greenport.
Up and At ‘Em
One key to winetasting from a professional: Don’t overload your day. You want to be able to enjoy your time at each winery and you’re bound to rush through and miss all of the good parts if you concentrate too intently on hitting every single one. Instead, your best bet is to curate the experience. Start with a trip to Palmer Vineyards, one of the North Fork’s oldest, where you can choose from any selection of wine flights. The tasting room resembles an old saloon, with its dark wood and antique features. It’s an inviting space to hang out, especially if the weather is less than desirable.
A Glass and a Slice
One of the best parts of the Wine Trail is the landscape itself, acre upon acre of verdant farmland. On your way back east from Palmer, allow yourself plenty of time to stop at the farm stands for fresh produce or a pie or two. Then head to Macari, a massive Southold winery home not only to estimable wines but also to some of Long Island’s best pizza, Avellino. You can sit on an expansive deck overlooking the winery while sipping whatever your heart desires—and Avellino’s truck is parked in the back lot and will pack your pies up to go, so you can eat them right out of the box, or wherever else your heart desires.
Wine and Dinner
If you’re planning to eat at the North Fork Table and Inn—which has one of the best Long Island-focused wine lists out there—make your reservation well in advance. Otherwise, consider a night at the Frisky Oyster, Chef Robby Beaver’s playful, fun Greenport restaurant. The Frisky Oyster also features tons of local wines, so you can eat your heart out while adhering to the old drinking adage What Grows Together Goes Together.
Easy Like Sunday Morning
When I think “easy like Sunday morning,” I think of rosé in a Provençal-style courtyard. Technically, Croteaux Vineyards doesn’t open until noon, which gives you plenty of time to stop by Southold’s Love Lane Kitchen for a Sunday-paced breakfast. After you’re done noshing, allow yourself to while away the afternoon at Croteaux, where the only wines on the sparkling and still menu are pink. If you’re less of a rosé drinker, McCall Wines, which sits on acres of pastoral Cutchogue farmland, produces delicious, full-bodied reds that can be enjoyed at picnic tables outside, beneath the shade of mature trees.
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A Nosh and a Nip
You may not need a proper lunch after sitting down to breakfast at Love Lane, but that’s just fine. At Mattebella Vineyards in Southold, you can choose among numerous outdoor and outdoor-ish seating areas and snack on tasty, noncommittal treats offered by the winery. The winery offers “light,” red, and vertical red flights at its laid-back, easygoing property, where you’re truly situated among the vines.
One for the Road
As you head back home, don’t forget to stop for dinner. At the North Fork’s very western edge, you’ll find the Preston House & Hotel, a scene newcomer with delicious dining options. The menu features local purveyors (see: Catapano Goat Cheese Tart with English peas and puff pastry), inventive plates (heirloom lentils and smoky carrots with crumbled feta and crispy chickpeas), Long Island seafood (oysters, clams, and scallop crudo), and de rigueur dishes (Crescent Farm duck confit with herbed artichokes and house-made chutney). There’s also an affordable bar menu and, of course, an impressive wine list that both highlights the region and honors the international tradition of fine winemaking. Dinner here on the way back from the Wine Trail is the perfect remedy to the Case of the Mondays that looms around the corner.
Featured image by Bridget Elkin.