If you’re planning a visit to the North Fork of Long Island, here are some more wineries I recommend visiting:
I found several nice white wines at Paumanok Vineyards. It’s one of the first wineries you will encounter on Route 25 if you’re driving from western Long Island.
Paumanok is the only winery in the region to produce Chenin Blanc and they do it very well. The 2007 Chenin Blanc ($28) has fresh notes of grapefruit, pineapple and melon with racy acidity and a clean finish. It’s a great match for shellfish.
Paumanok’s 2007 Dry Riesling ($22) is another refreshing sip. Bone dry, this wine has delicate aromas of green apple and white flowers. Flavors of green apple, lime and a hint of white apricot are enhanced by a firm acidity. I also enjoyed the 2007 Semi Dry Riesling ($22). Semi-sweet notes of peach, apricot and honeysuckle culminate in a crisp and dry finish. If you normally don’t drink sweet wines, try this wine as an aperitif or with fruit and light cheeses.
If you visit you may want to bring your lunch — Paumanok has a great outdoor deck overlooking the vineyards.
Macari Vineyards is one of the larger wineries on the North Fork with a variety of wines and two tasting rooms. I visited the newer tasting room on Route 25 in Cutchogue. It’s a bright and open space and also has an outdoor patio overlooking the vineyards.
Macari makes all the usual varietals but I really like their early and late wines. The 2008 Early Wine ($17) is 100% Chardonnay that is harvested early, bottled just over a month later, and released a few days after that. Picking the grapes early makes for a crisp and tart wine that’s tingling with acidity. Flavors of lime, green apple and honeydew lead to clean finish that has just a hint of sweetness.
At the other end is the 2005 Block E Viognier ($55). It’s a late harvest dessert wine that is sweet without being syrupy. Deep gold in color, the wine has notes of orange blossom, sweet citrus and spice which end in a satisfying finish.
For a less expensive dessert wine try the 2005 Block E Chardonnay, which is $40 a bottle.
A huge disappointment was Bedell Cellars. It was recommended by the staff at several other wineries, so I was looking forward to it. The indoor and outdoor tasting rooms are certainly very nice, but the experience was ruined by the people who worked there. The staff were unfriendly to the point of being rude. I almost left before the end of the tasting, it was so unpleasant. Their wines are expensive (mostly $25 and up), and none was particularly memorable.
If you’re visiting Long Island wine country on a warm and sunny day, head all the way east on Route 25 to The Old Field Vineyards. This winery is a nice change of pace from the other sleek and modern tasting rooms. At The Old Field Vineyards you taste wines in a covered area between two small barns and a chicken coop. You can enjoy the wines on the small patio, or take a bottle and sit at a table closer to the vineyards.
The 2006 Blush de Noir ($14) is the perfect pairing for this outdoor setting. It’s peach colored with notes of lemon and apricot, with a refreshing minerality on the finish. Also enjoyable is the 2006 Mostly Steel Chardonnay ($17). Ten percent of this wine is barrel fermented. It has crisp notes of lemon, grapefruit, green apple and a dry finish.
The Old Field Vineyard’s red wines are made with Cabernet Franc or Merlot, or a mix of the two. The Rooster Tail ($14) is easy to drink. It’s a medium bodied blend of 91% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc with notes of black cherry, plum and spice. My favorite of their reds is the 2005 Cabernet Franc ($30). Flavors of blackberries and black plum mix with fig, cinnamon and a hint of black pepper.
If you like the laid back atmosphere at The Old Field Vineyard, be sure to visit Sherwood House Vineyards in Mattituck. The tasting room (which is more like a tasting space), is only open during warm months because it is entirely outdoors.
On the hot afternoon when I visited, you couldn’t beat the 2004 Blanc de Blanc ($37). This sparkling wine is 100% Chardonnay, made in the traditional method like Champagne. It has toasty notes of citrus and white pear, with fine bubbles.
My favorite of Sherwood’s wines is the 2003 Merlot ($25). It has lush flavors of plum, red currant and raspberry with subtle notes of cedar and earth. Well structured with good tannins, this will make you a fan of Long Island wines.
No visit to the North Fork is complete without stopping by The Tasting Room in Peconic. It hosts wines from several wineries that are too small to have their own tasting rooms. It’s a great way to sample a variety of artisanal, limited production wines.
Go for the tasting and stay to talk wines with manager Charles Lazarou. Architecture is his career but wine is his passion. It was almost as fun chatting about the wines as it was to drink them.
At The Tasting Room I tried the really tasty 2007 Chardonnay from Brooklyn Oenology ($17). It’s Burgundian in style, leaner and more fruit focused. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged for a short time in French oak. Flavors of pineapple, peach and orange are enhanced by gentle notes of walnut and vanilla.
On the red side, I was impressed by the Comtesse Thérèse Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2003 ($25). Deep red in color, the wine has ripe flavors of blackberries, plum, tobacco and leather. Well balanced with velvety tannins, this Cab has a long finish.
I was also a fan of Schneider Vineyards Hermitage Clones Syrah 2005 ($25). It has refined flavors of ripe blackberries, spice and a hint of white pepper. Fruit and acidity are nicely balanced for a sip that is both light in the mouth and rich on the palate.
The Tasting Room is open Friday through Sunday, with a tasting menu that changes weekly.
Click here for a map of Long Island wine country.