Celebrate the harvest season with the vintners on the North Fork of Long Island, where an unusually warm growing period means it’s going to be “a very good year” for wine in their young region.
Here is a guide to the best places to visit—from vineyards to bed & breakfasts and wine bus tours—on your next getaway to the North Fork.
Croteaux Vineyards (1450 South Harbor Road, 631.765.6099), with its magical garden and all-pink wine list, tops our list of must-see vineyards. Great for those traveling with small groups (though they don’t accept tour buses).
A close second is Sherwood House, which has a “tasting room” in a charming country courtyard. The seating—from low Adirondack chairs around wooden tables to colorful mosaic sets with chairs done up like tiled butterflies—surrounds a minuscule green “barn” where friendly, knowledgeable servers retrieve the wine for tastings. Make sure to roam the beautiful grounds with a glass in hand.
Just next door, Shinn Estate Vineyards (2000 Oregon Road, 631.804.0367) offers an altogether different, though equally pleasant, feel. The stately building, situated near Shinn Estate’s farmhouse inn, is cozy on the inside, with a lovely patio of high-top tables leading out to a vibrant garden with more seating. Just opened in 2000, Shinn is a youngin’ where wineries are concerned, but shows sophistication in its array of delicious wines (bonus: it’s certified sustainable!).
Somewhere in all that tasting, you’ll need something of substance to soak up the wine. Fortunately, the North Fork has the “cute little restaurant” thing down pat. First, there are the ubiquitous farmstands along the main road, each with cheery signs touting fresh corn, berries, or any other farmstand delights that might be in season.
If a full meal is more what you had in mind, try lunching at the Love Lane Kitchen, a small, homey restaurant that befits its darling name. Inside is a bustling country kitchen, and outside is a shady courtyard graced by a long expanse of colorful murals depicting a town not unlike the one in which you sit. Either way you’ll enjoy the fresh salads and sandwiches they serve.
For dinner, try The Frisky Oyster, a couple towns over in Greenport. With its dim lighting and fancy cocktails, this is swanky Long Island-style, but it still retains that element of small-town comfort, in both the lively atmosphere and the blow-your-mind food (think truffled French fries that may just change your life) that is locally sourced.
A wine tour of North Fork is doable in a day, with a return to Manhattan on the evening train. But if you find yourself wanting more, there are plenty of places to stay out there. The Shinn Farmhouse, on Shinn Estate, is a great way to stay close to the action, and its four guest rooms ($245-325) are delightful. Blue Iris B&B in Cutchogue is everything you’d want for a quaint country inn, plus all the amenities (including whirlpool bathtubs and a fire pit) of a modern hotel ($275-$295).
The Long Island Railroad makes stops in towns all along North Fork. Once there, you’ll have to find a way to get from winery to winery, and while many are close enough together to walk in between, there are no sidewalks along the main road, so if you choose this route, exercise incredible caution.
Last year we recommended pedaling between wineries, and this is still our favorite means of getting around. However, if you’d rather not work for your wine, there are a variety of companies that provide both public and private tours. You could also choose the whimsy route, and hop on the North Fork Trolley ($89 includes three wineries and lunch).
Helpful Hint: Many North Fork wineries participate in a cork-sharing program. Each location provides you with corks that will get you a discount or additional tasting at your next spot. Note: While some may offer deals, not all will so be sure to ask.
Vine Time: A Guide to North Fork Vineyards
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