Taking a trip to wine country doesn’t have to mean packing your bags for a cross country trek to California or Oregon, or getting out the passport for an overseas adventure.
New York City wine enthusiasts can venture due east for a mere two hours by car and indulge in Long Island Wine Country, a place that is becoming a highly popular wine destination.
Situated on the Long Island Sound, on land that was once potato farms and fishing villages, the region is home to 42 wineries that produce 500,000 cases annually.
Long Island wine country has an ideal grape growing climate, very similar to the famous Bordeaux region in France. Planted in unique glacial soil, the fruit is matured by long warm summers cooled by ocean breezes. Moderate rainfall and plenty of sunshine ripen an array of varietals including:
- Whites: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Chenin Blanc, Semillion, Tocai Friulano, Pinot Blanc.
- Reds: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenere, Blaufrankisch, Dornfelder, Syrah, Pinot Noir.
The North Fork
For winery-hoppers, the North Fork is your destination. It is home to 36 wineries and an assortment of cute bed and breakfast places. For those without a designated driver, there are multiple winery tours and limo companies in the area and many wineries accommodate charter buses.
Must Visit: Paumanok Vineyards, Sparkling Pointe, Shinn Estate
The South Fork
The South Fork has only three wineries open to the public, but should not be overlooked. You can take the ferry from the North Fork, easily visiting all three in a day.
Must Visit: Channing Daughters
For those who love a little jazz to go with their favorite glass of wine, now is the perfect time to visit Long Island wine country. For the sixth year in a row, Winterfest pairs exceptional jazz performers with local vineyards, hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, and cultural venues every weekend from Feb. 9 thru March 17. The $20 admission includes a glass of wine (for those 21 and up) and a chance to win a free night at a hotel and a gift basket.
For the Red Wine Lover
Visit Paumanok (North Fork),
Founded in 1983, this family owned winery produces Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Assemblage, as well as white wines and a Rose.
Wine Enthusiasts recently rated their 2010 Cabernet Franc a 91 calling it, “Ripe and concentrated, yet profoundly elegant and feminine in style.”
For the White Wine Lover
Planted in 2000, the husband and wife team of David Page and Barbara Shinn use sustainable practices to produce award-winning wines. In 2010 they installed a solar and wind power system, making them the first East Coast winery to be powered solely by alternative energy.
Shinn Estate is also home to Shinn Estate Farmhouse, the first inn on a vineyard site on Long Island, where local produce, cheese, fish, shellfish, and duck are served.
Wine Enthusiast recently rated their 2010 Haven Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon a 90.
For the Sparkling Wine Lover
For bubbly lovers, what better place to go than a winery devoted solely to sparkling wines? In 2002 Cynthia and Tom Rosicki opened what is the only winery on Long Island dedicated to sparkling wines, tapping world renowned French native Gilles Martin, as their winemaker.
Wine Enthusiast recently rated their 2008 Blanc de Noirs a 90, calling the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier blend “seductive in its concentrated fruit profile, yet remarkably complex and subtle on the nose and palate.”
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