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Roadside America: Long Island Wine Country
From Manhattan, you can take a train from Penn Station to Ronkonkoma and then transfer for the train to Mattituck. Just be sure to check the schedule, as the train to Mattituck only runs a few times per day. You can also take the Hampton Jitney on the North Fork Line, with the best stops to get off being Mattituck, Cutchogue and Peconic. The wineries are close together, so you can technically walk from one to the other, although better options would be to take a taxi, bike, tour or car. Renting a car is a smart option as the trail is quite easy to follow, with most of the wineries being on Sound Avenue and Route 25. Your best bet, however, is booking a tour as it will allow you to have a designated driver. Some reputable companies include North Fork Wine Tours, Elegant Wine Tours of L.I., Long Island Wine Tours and North Fork Trolley Co.
Coming from Manhattan, you'll be immersed in a completely new world as you pass farm stands, corn fields, rustic shops and bakeries that look more like homes than stores. As you can see from this map of Long Island Wine Country, there are numerous wineries, vineyards and farms to choose from. The region offers 3,000 acres of vineyards and over 50 wine producers, with a majority of Long Island's wineries being on the North Fork. Because of its maritime climate, glacial soils and moderate rainfall during the growing season, the area boasts high-quality wine production, especially when it comes to Chardonnay and Merlot.
Where To Visit
Each winery offers something unique, whether it be the ambiance, offerings or way of producing wine. For a small fee, you'll be able to sample various varietals and ask questions at each space, and can often tour the vineyard, enjoy live music and partake in onsite events. My personal favorite winery in the region is Pindar, the most popular winery on Long Island and for good reason. Their wines are made sustainably using power from a 156-foot tall wind turbine, and their Winter White, an off-dry blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Cayuga, is supposedly the most sold wine on Long Island. Other top wineries to visit include:
- Bedell Cellars- This 30-year-old sustainably farmed estate vineyard and winery is family-owned and housed in a renovated potato barn from 1919. You'll sample wines from some of the oldest vines in the region on an outdoor tasting pavilion with expansive views of open farmland.
- Harbes Farm and Vineyard- This place has an extremely friendly staff, and the tasting rooms are housed in two cozy barns, Cherry Barn and Wine Barn. Also on the property is a large farm stand, apple picking, U-Pick pumpkins, a 6-acre corn maze, pedal carts, farm animals, pony rides and more.
- Vineyard 48- While many vineyards offer live music and relaxing picnic areas, Vineyard 48 is well known for featuring live DJs every Saturday and Sunday. Not only do they have award-winning wines, but it's also a great place for dancing and a more lively atmosphere.