Rare treats on the North Fork wine trail
When compared with wine regions like Burgundy or the Napa Valley, Long Island's North Fork is pretty small potatoes. Yet, over the years, it has produced its own heavy hitters - Paumanok, Palmer and Martha Clara among them - that tend to attract wine-loving day-trippers. But there are other, more rarefied destinations for the discerning oenophile. Here are three:
The Old Field Vineyards
59600 Main Rd., Southold, 631-765-0004, theoldfield.com
HOURS: Thursdays through Mondays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
THE MAIN ATTRACTION: It's hard to imagine a more idyllic setting than these gently rolling acres. The vineyards extend almost to Peconic Bay; the old barns that house the patio, tasting room and winemaking equipment are nestled in a shady grove. While some local restaurants serve The Old Field's wines, almost all retailing is done at the winery. If you want to taste the Baiz family's well-regarded pinot noirs, merlots, cabernet francs and chardonnays, you'll have to stop by.
WAIT, THERE'S MORE: Two regular 90-minute programs are offered: The "sustainable agriculture tour" (Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.) focuses on farming practices; the "historical tour" (Sundays, 1:30 p.m.) takes in the property's charming old buildings and its fledgling farm museum. Tours cost $10 and include a taste of four wines.
1450 S. Harbor Road, Southold, 631-765-6099, croteaux.com
HOURS: Friday noon to sunset; Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
THE MAIN ATTRACTION: Rosé. Croteaux Vineyards is a new winery with a clear focus. "Rosé on purpose" is the company motto and, to that end, it produces only rosés, all of which are based on merlot but whose names - 181, 314 and 3 - connote the different merlot "clones" from which they are made. There is a delicious new sparkling wine, Croteaux Cuvée Sparkle, which is also merlot-based and rosé-hued.
WAIT, THERE'S MORE: Everything about Croteaux looks great, from the wine labels designed by Michael Croteau, a graphic designer, to the tasting patio, overseen by Paula Croteau, a former fashion executive. Pets and children are welcome, and lingering is encouraged by Scrabble, chess and boccie. Paula, an accomplished chef, also runs a cooking school. All the information is at farmhousekitchen.us.
The Tasting Room
2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic, 631-765-6404, tastingroomli.com
HOURS: Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
THE MAIN ATTRACTION: Boutique varieties. The Tasting Room is not a winery but rather a retail outlet where customers can sample wines from nine North Fork producers (and one based in Brooklyn) that, for the most part, are too small to operate their own tasting rooms. This charming old storefront stocks about 50 handcrafted "boutique" wines from Bouké Wines, Bridge Vineyards, Brooklyn Oenology, Christiano Family Vineyards, Comtesse Thérèse, Medolla Vineyards, Onabay Vineyards, Schneider Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards (which also has a small tasting room in the Mattituck vineyards) and Sparkling Pointe (soon to open a tasting room in Southold).
WAIT, THERE'S MORE: The Tasting Room is next door to A Taste of the North Fork (2885 Peconic Lane, 631-765-8760), a store specializing in locally produced preserves, sauces and spice blends, among other specialty items.