Got Wine? Long Island Wine Country Does, and a Whole Lot More
Long Island Wine Country
Long Island Wine Country is located in New York's Suffolk County. While vineyards can be found on both the North & South forks of Long Island, it is the North Fork that draws the crowds. In the 40-mile stretch from the town of Riverhead to Orient Point, there are 42 vineyards, which attract 1.3 million visitors a year.
A relatively new wine region, the first vineyard opened in the 1970s, today the area produces some 500,000 cases of wine annually. The climate allows for the growth of grape varietals that result in both whites and reds. The region is known for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Blanc white wines, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah and Pinot Noir reds.
Most vineyards offer tasting flights with a sampling of either their whites, reds, or most popular wines, all for the price of what a glass of wine would cost. A few of the wineries offer free tastings. All of the wineries have outdoor seating areas, many with covered patios, overlooking the vineyards where you can sit and enjoy a glass or bottle. Many also allow you to stroll along the vines and lay out a blanket to enjoy a picnic lunch. Kids and dogs on leashes are allowed in the outdoor areas of most wineries.
The Summer & Fall months are still the busiest, but the Long Island Wine Council has successfully introduced Winter & Spring events making this a year round destination. Their "Jazz on the Vine" Winterfest, taking place over 6 consecutive weekends, featured 70 performances held at 20 different wineries. The winery hours change in different seasons, so check the websites for specifics as well as directions and event calendars.
Martha Clara Vineyards - 6025 Sound Avenue, Riverhead, NY 11901
Martha Clara has several indoor tasting rooms, outdoor areas, and a gift shop stocked with wine paraphernalia such as magnets, glasses, charms, and coasters. There's a farm area with goats, alpaca and longhorn cattle, making this a popular stop for visitors with children.
Palmer Vineyards- 5120 Sound Avenue, Riverhead, NY 11901
My favorite vineyard on Long Island, Palmer's winery offers a stunning view of their 90 acres of vineyards. My husband and I enjoy sitting in the Adirondack chairs drinking in the sun and the Chardonnay.
Duckwalk Vineyards North - 44535 Main Road, Southold, NY 11971
Known for their dessert wines, affordable prices, and generous pouring, Duckwalk is a frequent stop for wine tour buses.