North Shore wine country celebrates 40 years

Coffee Pot Cellars co-owner Laura Klahre, right, shares

Coffee Pot Cellars co-owner Laura Klahre, right, shares a laugh with visitors in the Cutchogue winery's tasting room. (Oct. 5, 2013) (Credit: Randee Daddona)

North Fork wine country, which first took root in Cutchogue in 1973 and celebrates its 40th birthday this year, continues to grow and change -- sometimes in unexpected ways.

This fall, two groundbreaking new wineries are celebrating the harvest along with the region's more than four dozen established wine producers. Kontokosta in Greenport and Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue both offer something different from their North Fork neighbors.

And while McCall in Cutchogue has been around for six years, there's a sense of newness in the air since its choice in August as New York State's 2013 Winery of the Year.

Here are three suggestions for wine lovers seeking novelty on the North Fork.

FOR A VIEW OF LONG ISLAND SOUND

Kontokosta Winery

825 North Rd., Greenport

INFO 631-477-6977, kontokostawines.com

Kontokosta is the first North Fork tasting room with a waterfront view of Long Island Sound, says Michael Kontokosta, co-owner with his brother, Constantine. "Standing at the bar, when you look north you see a meadow, Long Island Sound and Connecticut," Kontokosta says.

Kontokosta discovered the North Fork as a youth summering with his family in Southold and eventually left life as a New York City lawyer to plant roots there. The first vines went in the ground in 2002 and now fill 23 acres near the tasting room.

The tasting room building features large windows on two sides. Designed as a LEED Gold-certified winery, Kontokosta features siding on the building's exterior that was recycled from a 100-year-old barn, the co-owner says.

FOR A TASTE OF HONEY

Coffee Pot Cellars

31855 Main Rd., Cutchogue

INFO 631-765-8929, coffeepotcellars.com

Coffee Pot Cellars owner Adam Suprenant of Southold, who has been making wine on Long Island for others for 16 years, decided to branch out on his own.

"Coffee Pot Cellars is my private label, my side venture," explains Suprenant, winemaker at Osprey's Dominion in Peconic. Coffee Pot's sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and merlot ($15.99-$17.99 a bottle) are made using grapes from other vineyards, including some on the North Fork, he says.

The cozy tasting room also features fresh honey and beeswax products (candles, lip balm) made by his fiancee, Laura Klahre, who is a beekeeper on the North Fork. There's a glass-enclosed beehive inside the skylit tasting room, and a natural wood countertop made from a cross section of a poplar tree.

About the nonalcoholic name: it's inspired by the "Coffee Pot" lighthouse Suprenant sees when taking the Orient Point ferry.

FOR THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

McCall Wines

22600 Rte. 25, Cutchogue

INFO 631-734-5764, mccallwines.com

Russell McCall says he was "shocked" when he learned in late August that the winery he founded in 2007 had been named the New York Wine and Grape Foundation's Winery of the Year.

"In the judging, we entered seven wines," McCall says. "Four got gold medals and three got silver medals." You can still feel a bit of the celebratory mood in McCall's rustic tasting room, which is inside an old potato barn. All seven winning wines are available by the glass or the bottle (from $18).

For the first time, McCall also is selling top round and ground beef from the Charolais cattle raised on the farm. No chemicals are fed to the cattle; the organic beef previously was available only at a local restaurant, McCall says.

WINERY HOPPING BY SHUTTLE

WHAT The Taste North Fork harvest festival, being held for the first time over Veterans Day weekend (Nov. 9-11), offers a new service that lets wine drinkers leave their autos behind. A free shuttle service with links to the LIRR, Hampton Jitney and Cross Sound Ferry will squire tasters among 15 participating wineries.

DETAILS Events scheduled at vineyards from Riverhead to Greenport include special tastings, food-pairing demonstrations and live music. Local restaurants, hotels and B&Bs also will be offering deals.

INFO liwines.com

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