It can be easy to forget just how many wineries there are here on Long Island. A quick moment on Google reveals that there are literally dozens of wineries (or at least wine brands) on the East End.
And yet, even the region’s biggest fans—people who hit the wine trail multiple times a month—will discover their favorites over time and eventually find themselves visiting a certain handful of wineries more than the others. I’m guilty of this myself, though in my defense it’s mostly because I usually have my kids with me and not every tasting room that has wines I love is ideal for families.
The local, regional and even national wine media is guilty of this too. There aren’t that many Long Island wineries getting consistent media coverage. Part of that is the lack of organized regional marketing, but it’s also laziness. A lot of writers who visit the area only for a day or two tend to visit the ones that they’ve already read about elsewhere. It’s a disappointing cycle.
This story is meant to—I hope—break that cycle. Even if just a little bit.
Here are five wineries where you can find great wine that maybe you wouldn’t expect, or maybe you just haven’t heard about yet.
The traffic on Sound Avenue/Route 48 is bad this time of year. The popularity of Harbes’ fall farm fantasy land is a big part of that. And I completely understand why you wouldn’t visit Harbes Vineyard expecting great wine (the tasting room is behind the main farm stand, by the way). But guess what? The wines are good—really good. They are better than they need to be, given the foot traffic the Harbes family draws to the property. They could get by with mediocrity in the bottle and still sell a ton of wine. But many of the wines far exceed that need in terms of quality. Wines to make sure you try include the NV Blanc de Blancs, 2015 Syrah and the 2014 Red Blend.
For those driving from points west, Sparkling Pointe is a longer drive than most tasting rooms. You have to drive by a lot of great wine on your way there—and if you think you don’t like sparkling wine, you may not make the trip. You should, even if you don’t think you like bubbly. They make a wide range of styles—red, white and pink—with a few wines that are a bit sweeter and softer that will appeal to even those who aren’t crazy for sparkling wine. On a recent visit I was blown away by the quality of all of them, but if I had to pick a few favorites to recommend, they’d be the 2014 Blanc de Noirs, 2010 Brut Seduction and 2017 Cuvee Carnival Rose.
To many, Clovis Point is a bit of a mystery. Visit their website and you might no be sure if they are still open. The last vintage report is from 2014 and if you look at the wine list…. it’s blank. But trust me—they are very much still open and winemaker John Leo is making some of the best red wine on the North Fork. The reds are the focus here, so make sure you taste the 2015 Vintner’s Select Merlot and the 2017 Petit Verdot. All the reds are good though.
If you’ve visited Raphael, you’ve tasted Anthony Nappa’s wines. He’s been the winemaker there for many years. But because The Winemaker Studio, where Nappa’s eponymous label is available for tasting, is on Peconic Lane between Rt. 25 and Rt. 48, it flies a bit under the radar. The White Pinot Noir has gotten some press attention over the years, but for me, it’s the reds that are the real stars. Make sure that you taste the 2017 Bordo Antico, an unoaked Cabernet Franc made from organic grapes, the 2017 La Strega Malbec and the 2014 Reserve Merlot. Oh, and the dessert wines named for his two boys.
If you haven’t heard about Chronicle Wines yet, you will. It’s the latest project from winemakers Alie Shaper (Brooklyn Oenology, Haywater Cove and As If Wines) and Robin Epperson-McCarthy (Saltbird Cellars). In addition to their own lines of wines, they are collaborating on Vinette—two new wine spritzers available in cans and now Chronicle Wines. Best of all, the duo also owns Peconic Cellar Door, a shared tasting room that is right next door to The Tasting Room. When you’re there, make sure that you taste the As If 2018 “Gratidude” Pet Nat, Brooklyn Oenology 2018 “Broken Land” Orange Wine, Saltbird Cellars 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and Saltbird Cellars 2016 Harbinger Red.