Long Island Feature
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The white-sand beaches of the North Fork encircle a broad, central agricultural belt that, it turns out, has near-perfect conditions for ripening European grape varieties like merlot and chardonnay. Now that the quality of Long Island wines rivals that of the world's top labels, the North Fork draws serious wine lovers and sightseeing fun seekers alike. Navigating the North Fork wine trail is really about deciding how often to stop, as all but 3 of the region's 30 wineries are on Route 25, which runs east–west through the fork, or on Route 48, running north of and parallel to Route 25. Each winery has its own personality; some encourage a quiet focus on the wine, whereas at others you jostle for a place at the lively bar. Some are in old barns that retain rural charm in wide-planked wood floors, heavy beams, and old farming equipment. Summer weekends—particularly when bad weather foils beach plans—attract droves of winery-hoppers. Fall brings harvest festivals and day-trippers buying fresh vegetables at farm stands and mixed cases of wines for the holidays. Off-season, the wineries are very quiet, and you're likely to be showered with extra attention.
Long Island Wine Council. 631/369-5887. www.liwines.com.
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