Far from the busy avenues and yellow taxis is another world entirely.
Long Island’s North Fork is quaint and quiet. It’s surrounded on both sides by beaches, while roads wind through farmland. Fruit and flower stands dot the sides of the road, with many working on an honor system for purchase. Oyster farms are a dime a dozen, some of which you can find selling and shucking fresh goods roadside.
The North Fork is also home to Long Island Wine Country, home to more than 60 vineyards and tasting rooms that are constantly churning out remarkable wines and upping the ante on the wine-tasting experience just a hop, skip, and a jump away from New York City.
“Our location, just a little more than two hours from New York City and uniquely situated between two bodies of water–the Long Island Sound and the Peconic Bay–makes the North Fork as beautiful as it is accessible,” says Gabriela Macari of Macari Vineyards. “It might not be somewhere you’d expect to find quality winemaking, but we’re out here making it happen and pushing the envelope on what this region can do.”
However, it’s not been a secret that Long Island wines don’t always get their due when stacked against others from around the world. And, with the Finger Lakes also in New York, it’s tough competition. Long Island wines are distinctly unique and are beginning to command more attention from the wine world for an array of reasons. However, to enjoy visiting the vineyards of the East End, Marin Brennan, a winemaker at Corey Creek Taproom, notes that first-time or those newer visitors should keep an open mind when tasting wines from this region in order to appreciate them fully.
“The wines from our region will taste different, and that’s due to the cool maritime climate we have,” she says. “So, our characteristics are going to be different from other regions, even if it’s the same varietal. We want to be known for making terroir-driven wines that really showcase a sense of place.”
And, adds Macari, there will be something for every type of wine drinker on the North Fork, from novice to experienced sipper. “There’s an impressive amount of diversity when it comes to grape varieties on Long Island, in addition to cutting-edge winemaking.”
Yes, the wine is front and center, says Ken Cereola, general manager of Peconic Bay Vineyards, but that’s not all the area has to offer. “Long Island sits among the top for someone seeking a complete experience of everything a wine region could offer. Amazing vineyards, historic farmland, gorgeous beaches, and local restaurants bring wines from the vineyard to the table.”
While mainstays like Paumanok, McCall, Lenz, and Clovis Point are always great stops for tastings, several vineyards offer a one-of-a-kind experience in conjunction with delicious wine. Here are a few that will give you an extra warm welcome to Long Island Wine Country.
A family-owned winery with a commitment to sustainable farming and hand-crafted wines, Bedell has been a North Fork staple since its first vines were planted in 1980. The brand proudly shows off the terroir of its home, using only Indigenous yeasts to make the biggest impact. The winery has a plethora of different tasting experiences, too, depending on your style. Spend time outside on the deck or manicured grounds and gardens; hang in the contemporary tasting room, either at the bar or high-top table or book a more intimate tasting experience in a small private room overlooking the vines. No matter what you pick, the wines are so intricate and rich that you may have to go back a few more times to enjoy the full breadth of its portfolio.
Must try wine: Musée and/or Gallery
Corey Creek Taproom
Corey Creek is Bedell’s brand of small-batch and specialty wine. Winemaker Marin Brennan has leaned into the terroir of Long Island’s North Fork, creating sippers that highlight a sense of place. Brennan’s White Cabernet Franc has quickly become a favorite of locals and frequenters, so it’s the only experimental wine she’s repeated through multiple years. Brennan has also done an old vine rosé and a chardonnay aged on seashells from the North Fork shoreline. The nautical-themed tasting room is bright and fun, while the wide deck is the perfect place to hang out all day long. There are so many different wines to try here that you won’t want the same glass twice.
Must try wine: White Cabernet Franc
If your motto is “rosé all day” or “yes way, rosé,” then add Croteaux to your “must-go” list. The first (and only) wine in the U.S. to focus solely on producing this pink drink, the overall experience here is wonderful even if you don’t favor the flavor. Walking into the tasting garden, you’re transformed into the boho-chic garden of your dreams. Flowers grow wildly yet curated; blankets line the lawn benches; an old barn acts as both a tasting room as well as a boutique, and a rosé truck sits on the premises just begging to be photographed. Unlike other vineyards that prepare light bites like charcuterie boards and other nosh-ables, Croteaux has a selection of heftier eats, like lobster rolls, making it a great stop for a light lunch.
Must try wine: Sparkling Jolie
Ev + Em Vineyards
From the moment you pull into the parking lot, the experience at Ev + Em has already started. Walk up the stairs to a chic white farmhouse and into a modern, cool tasting room. A large, commanding fireplace, gray earth tones, and dark wood furniture set the vibe immediately. Hang at the tasting room bar, head out to the covered deck or opt for the patio, an elegant lounge-type space that has the best view of the vineyard. It’s a classic vineyard vibe—elevated but not pretentious. While some of the wines are still leftover from its predecessor, Laurel Lake, head winemaker Juan Sepulveda is pumping out some new offerings worth a second glass. A collaboration with Whalebone Magazine has produced two very interesting sippers, while its Ev+EM2 Merlot and slightly chilled red are unexpectedly delicious.
Must try wine: Whalebone Red Blend
Jamesport Vineyards is a Long Island Wine Country jewel that should not be skipped. Sprawling outdoor gardens have a space for everyone, whether a table for two on the patio or a private gathering in one of the enclaves. While the grounds are gorgeous, the wine and the food will exceed your expectations. Beautifully presented cheese boards, delicious and creative wood-fired pizzas, and small plates like meatballs or warm olives will start the experience off on the right foot. Pair those bites with some of the vineyard’s most interesting sippers, like the Estate Albariño, Sparkling Syrah Pet-Nat, or Orange Reisling, and you’ll have an experience that will not be able to be replicated anywhere else on the North Shore. Aren’t that adventurous? Jamesport has many traditional styles with the brand’s own spin that are ready to become your next favorite wine.
Must try wine: Estate Albariño
Meadowlark by Macari
While Macari’s main vineyard is also worth the visit, there is something special about Meadowlark. This new venture from the wine brand houses all of its small-batch, limited-run wines. Meadowlark also features expansive gardens and contemporary interior spaces for guests to enjoy by the glass tastings and personalized food pairings. While there is ample seating both inside and out, part of this experience is the ability to make it all about you. Guests are encouraged to bring their own picnic blankets, purchase a basket full of sweet and savory treats from Meadowlark, and spend the afternoon sipping and sunning. As for the wine, there is something for everyone; bubbly, rosé, and a smattering of reds and whites. Library wines will also be available at Meadowlark.
Must try wine: Carbonic Pinot Noir
Peconic Bay Vineyards
Newly reopened after being shuttered for eight years, Peconic Bay Vineyards is everything you want from a vineyard experience. The reds from the brand are complex and surprising, while the whites are totally crushable. Notable is the Cabernet Franc—yes, this is the region’s calling card, but Peconic Bay pulls out all the stops. The outdoor experience is laid back and exuberant, with fire pits and picnic tables dotting the patio. Outdoor music, curated charcuterie boards, fun brunch offerings, oysters from Hampton Oyster—it’s the most fun you’ll have on the East End.
Must try wine: Cabernet Franc
Rose Hill Vineyards
If Chip and Joanna Gaines had a vineyard, there is no doubt Rose Hill would be it. Formerly Shinn Estate, the grounds have undergone a stunning transformation. Chic water features and lanterns give way to a modern patio. Enter the tasting room and be welcomed by lush brown leather couches and cozy corners with velvet upholstery. The barrel room, also used for tastings, is charming—wood, metal, greenery, and lights make it the perfect place to spend the day. The wines are as charming as the venue. While its reds and rosé wines are worth a sip, the whites are where this vineyard shines. Each has its own unique aging process and fruit selection.
Must try wine: Concrete Blonde
Sparkling Pointe Vineyards and Winery
Walk into this winery and catch your breath, as the high ceilings, stunning chandeliers, and oversized fireplaces make a big impact. Modern and upscale, Sparkling Pointe is dedicated to creating its own renditions of Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines. And, each of these bubbly wines is made with the utmost attention to detail. Not sure what to pick? The brand’s classic Blanc de Blancs is the perfect start to a tasting, but don’t skimp on its line of Cuvée Carnival wines. These are unique to Sparkling Pointe, which celebrates them yearly with a special release party. Want to feel like royalty for the day? Sip your sparkling alongside Sparkling Pointe’s caviar service, or pair it with a few gourmet chocolates available on-site for a truly rich experience.
Must try wine: Cuvée Carnival Rouge