Catherine is an avid traveler and applies her experience in the environmental sciences to give a global view of travel domestic and abroad.
If you need a quick getaway from the city, a trip to the vineyards on the North Fork makes for a wonderful day full of wine tasting, cheese sampling, and live music. During certain peak times in the summer, many vineyards host events full of live music and food and wine specials, but keep in mind—vineyards aren't only open during the summer months. They also have events in the fall and spring, but most are closed during the winter.
One of the more memorable trips out east was when a few friends and I rented a limo for a few hours to take us to some select stops on the vineyard trail. This is a suggested itinerary based on my experience going out East on 25A (Sound Avenue), where a majority of the vineyards are located on Long Island, NY.
The first stop was Vineyard 48. They definitely aim to please the younger crowd here at this modern vineyard. On the days of events, such as Saturday afternoons in the summer, they hand out tokens with your entrance fee good for choice tastings inside. You can also always purchase a bottle and grab a seat with a few friends to enjoy together here. The first time I visited this vineyard, they had a DJ spinning outside with a full dance floor laid out on the grass. The younger clientele could not but help to grab some friends in their summer dresses and heels and boogie down. They have a sprawl of wooden benches and tables where you could grab a seat outside on the grass. The choice of wines for tasting with the tokens was vast and the crowd there was friendly and fresh.
After some time, the music became something of a burden, especially if you’re looking for a quiet day out East. Also, the tastings are handed out in small plastic cups; no glasses here. My second visit was a bit tamer. There was no outdoor DJ but the tokens were available just the same. The crowd here was still on the young side.
Note: This may not be the place for those looking to relax with a glass of wine in hand. Otherwise, it’s a good first stop while you still have the energy to party it up a bit.
Martha Clara Vineyards
The second stop is Martha Clara Vineyards. This is more of a relaxing outdoor venue. The entrance to this beautiful rustic home made of wooden pillars and vintage wood furniture is welcoming and calm. This vineyard serves wine by the glass only; no bottles can be purchased for drinking on-site, and they have a bar inside and outside during the weekends serving food as well. They have a deck in the back where you could grab a seat at one of their tables and sit back and relax. The seating here is limited as compared to Vineyard 48 but if you have a large group, it can make for a wonderful afternoon once you snag a spot. All the seating in the back gives an awe-inspiring view of the grape fields and there is usually some live music at certain times during the summer months. The bottles available to purchase are affordable and from the local vineyard there. They've officially rebranded and their wine is now known as RG | NY and you can learn more about this effort to embrace what's being called "The New North Fork" here.
You're also able to explore their large grounds with a completed barn on-site that has played host to many extravagant wine-country, rustic-themed weddings in the past. I had the pleasure of considering them for my wedding ceremony and received a tour. It's something to consider if you're interested in this type of country-style wedding but don't want to go too far from the city center, being only an hour and a half from New York City by car.
Baiting Hollow Farm (and LIV Vodka)
Of all the vineyards visited out east, by far, my favorite is Baiting Hollow Farm for the ambiance, sheer size, and food and wine choices. From the moment you park, you can hear the loud music in the distance ranging from local folk bands to singer-songwriter covers, depending on the event that day. Their menu is also eclectic and served to be paired with the type of wine you’re drinking. They have a large choice of cheeses and a number of different size platters with mixed fruit, food, and cheese. Located directly behind the vineyard home is a farmhouse with horses, sheep, and turkeys. You’re able to walk along the farm fence and watch the horses gallop along. I was able to brush my hand on one of the horses’ heads when a friendly farmer directed him towards my friends and me.
At this vineyard, you can purchase tastings, glasses of wine, or bottles to share at your table amongst your guests; the best of all worlds. There is also plenty of seating, indoors and outdoors. Another great perk of this vineyard is its location. Located directly adjacent is a Vodka Distillery for LIV Vodka. You can walk there from the parking lot of Baiting Hollow for some tastings, a beautiful second-floor view of the vineyard yards, and affordable bottles of vodka made right on Long Island.
It was convenient to have our limo drive us to all of these places out East and then bring us back home. There are also plenty of bus tours from NYC to these wine-tasting events out East. These are only a few of the many vineyards located on the North Fork but this list can hopefully be a good starting point for planning your weekend or day trip to Long Island Wine Country.