This weekend we celebrated Sammy’s birthday. Not unlike birthdays in the past, she wanted to relax (something she seldom gets with the rigors of a fashion-based job in NYC). But up until last year, we called California home and weren’t exactly sure what New York would offer in comparison. So when June 10th arrived this year she was determined to drink up New York’s version of California’s wine country or a jaunt to the Viceroy Palm Springs. Her solution? Get a taste for both in Long Island.
While it is the longest and largest island in the contiguous United States, Long Island is not Napa, nor does it feel the need to stand up to the same global expectations of a more refined palate. Instead, this small and idyllic swath of coastline holds a redeeming charm that can’t be replicated in the wide expanse of Sonoma or Paso Robles. The family-run farms and road side stands are as numerous as the increasing crowds in summer and the vineyards themselves seem to care more about the quality of the vine than being a top-selling vineyard. At least that was the vibe we got from the vineyards that we visited. And while you get the occasional jabroni or gaudy bachelorette party looking to taste their way into oblivion, this is actually the place you go to get away from it all.
Unlike the Hamptons, this area (from Riverhead to Greenport) in Suffolk County is quaint and approachable. We didn’t want to stay at a hotel chain or visit the bus-tour vineyards, so instead we stayed at the Top O’ The Mornin’ B&B, (three suites) which is run by a very sweet elderly couple, Patty and Tommy. They’re quirky and enjoy entertaining while the place is clean and close to everything. Trust us, their homemade Irish pancakes are reason enough. For the wine tour, we booked East End Wine Tasting Tours and started at Lenz, then hit Raphael (eh), McCall, Corey Creek and Sherwood House Vineyards (Reference Guide below).
That night, we ate seafood and caught game 7 of the NBA Finals at Legends (Not the chain) in Peconic Bay. We vehemently refused to spend the $30 cab fare for the 1.5 mile drive back to the inn, so instead we opted to stumble home a bit tipsy. The next morning, we rose to that incredible aforementioned breakfast and then headed off to Kenney’s Beach. Last, we had one more coastal grub fest at Crabby Jerry’s in Greenport before we turned due West for Manhattan.
Map of our Tour
As a quick reference guide, here’s our breakdown…
Get to the vineyards early and beat the crowds. We used East End Wine Tasting Tours. They set up an intimate tour at smaller vineyards as we wanted and the driver was personable and super accommodating. Lenz had great wines, knowledgeable staff and a nice area to sit outside. Raphael had a really tasty and summery Chardeaux (Chardonnay and White Bordeaux), but overall, this was your typical tourist-trap vineyard. McCall is a converted horse stall that let’s you have your lunch while tasting their wines, but the woman running the tasting (maybe co-owner) was beyond rude and never even gave us tasting notes while she poured. Corey Creek was a lot of fun in that they had live music, friendly staff, clean architecture and solid crisp notes in their wines. Sherwood House Vineyards was our favorite with good music, raw seafood bar, polo-esc-Americana atmosphere and really tasty wines. A huge thank you to Ami Davey at Sherwood for setting up such an incredible tasting.