Long Island, New York, can quench your thirst for an escape to the wine regions of California and France. How? Just hop on the Long Island Rail Road and top-rated vineyards and wineries are just a train journey away. If you’re ready for an intoxicating day of wine tasting and sophistication, here are the best vineyards and wineries on Long Island.
Channing Daughters, on the East End of Long Island, grows more than two dozen grape varieties, including chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. But what sets this Hamptons vineyard apart is the exclusive products at inclusive prices. Go on wine tastings (and see one of the most interesting art collections in New York) without breaking the bank. Now that’s something worth toasting.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard
Complete your Hamptons experience with a visit to the chic Wölffer Estate Vineyard. Celebrities, Sagaponack vacationers and trend-devotees (Wölffer is the vineyard behind the Instagram-famous Summer in a Bottle rosé) rub elbows at this European-inspired attraction. However, you’ll likely be too consumed by Wölffer’s award-winning wines to notice.
If there’s such a thing as a family-friendly vineyard, Macari Vineyards is it. The 500-acre (202ha) Mattituck property is now run by two generations of the Macari family, whose vineyard rows share the land with Sicilian donkeys, Texas longhorns and other friendly animals. While the vineyard isn’t open to children, discovering the renowned wines for the first time will make you feel like a kid again.
Since the mid-1990s, McCall Wines has drawn on French influences to create pinot noir and merlot varieties, distinguishing itself from its New York peers in the process. The burgundy- and Bordeaux-style reds here transport the taste buds, while features such as a tasting room converted from a former horse stable, and a wind-powered farm, ground McCall firmly in New York.
At Paumanok – the Native American word for Long Island – community is key. That’s why wine-tasters here are joined by a member of the Massoud family (the owners and operators) and why the vineyard vibe is more intimate than intimidating, despite the many award wins. With a regional cheese or charcuterie plate in one hand and a pour from one of Paumanok’s annual 9,000 cases of wine, getting to know your neighbors has never been more fun.
Lord of the Rings producer Michael Lynne has another hit on his hands with Bedell Cellars, which handcrafts red and white wine varieties. The critically acclaimed wines here were served at the 2013 US Presidential Inauguration. Enjoy the star treatment yourself at the elegant tasting room, decorated with Lynne’s contemporary art collection.
Escape New York for the Mediterranean at Raphael. Here, a winery modeled after a Tuscan villa offers top-rated red Bordeaux blends, cabernet franc and chardonnay among others. Owner John Petrocelli’s Italian influences can be observed further in the cheese and charcuterie accompaniments and informal, intimate tours.
It’s all about the bubbles at the aptly named Sparkling Pointe, a North Fork spot specializing exclusively on the production of méthode champenoise sparkling wines. Befitting the bubbly-only estate are glamorous features such as glass chandeliers and an outdoor lounge with umbrella-equipped tables. Don’t miss Sparkling Pointe’s mouth-watering collaborations with Birds & Bubbles, Four & Twenty Blackbirds and more.
Duck Walk Vineyard
This family-owned vineyard was the long-held dream of Dr Herodotus “Dan” Damianos – wine pioneer and the founder of Pindar Vineyards, the biggest wine producer in Long Island – who founded Duck Walk Vineyard in 1994 with his son, Alexander. The flagship winery is in a chateau-style building in Water Mill, Southampton, while a second location was added on the North Fork in 2007. Both locations are open for tastings, and host live music every Saturday and Sunday from May to October. Choose a glass or bottle of wine, and enjoy it on the patio with cheese and light snacks.
This family-owned and managed vineyard, on the sweeping bluffs overlooking Long Island Sound, combines award-winning wines with water views. The waterfront location and maritime climate also give the wine a unique character. As well as a tasting room, the winery has a magical outdoor events space on a rolling meadow, and an elegant indoor space for smaller gatherings. Big fan of the handcrafted wine produced here? Join the Bluff Road Club, which offers members a curated selection of wine delivered every three months, discounts on tastings and purchases, and priority access to hosting events.
The largest Long Island winery was founded by Dr Herodotus “Dan” Damianos, a pioneer who planted some of the first vines in the area and helped create the winemaking industry on Long Island in the early 1980s. Today, Pindar Vineyards has grown into a 500-plus-acre vineyard growing 17 varieties of grapes using ecofriendly farming practices. The winery crafts 23 different varieties and proprietary blends, producing an impressive 70,000 cases of wine each year. The tasting room is open daily and can cater 3,000 guests – choose five wines from the extensive menu and find a spot at one of the indoor or outdoor tables.
Lieb Cellars-Bridge Lane
What started as a 12-acre (5ha) vineyard in 1992 has since grown to encompass five vineyards, two tasting rooms and a full-service custom crush winery. But the highlight of any visit is the Lieb Cellars Tasting Room, which is nestled amid 85 acres of vines on one of the most rural roads of the North Fork and features a rustic tasting bar, library room and a front deck overlooking the farm. For more casual vibes, head to the tasting room belonging to Lieb Cellars’ younger label, Bridge Lane. Here, you can try five wines designed for casual sipping in a colorful space furnished with picnic tables, turntables and chalkboard menus.
Mandi Keighran contributed additional reporting to this article.
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