I like wine. Okay, I love wine. And much as I love my city of Manhattan and state of New York, I must admit I didn’t know too much of anything about New York wine. So I was excited to celebrate the Saturday summer solstice in North Fork vineyards combining a couple of my favorite activities – biking, drinking and eating. I haven’t “cycled the wine lands” since Stellenbosch during Semester at Sea. My parents and I drove the car from Stamford, CT (approximately 2-2 1/2 hour drive), strapped two of the bikes on the back of the car and rented one from a super nice guy named Dan in Greenport.
Our first pit stop was Duck Walk Vineyards. As you enter the building, it opens up to a beautiful, massive event space suitable for 400 guests with high vaulted ceilings, two tasting bars and an outside scenery that includes an expansive outdoor patio and vines stretching acres across the residence. At 11am sharp, tourist buses, limos filled with bachelorette parties and other walks of life storm through. Some vineyards like Duck Walk can accommodate huge crowds, but others like to keep the intimate feel of the vineyard, and prohibit tourist buses and large parties. The talk of the vineyard isn’t the red, white, or sparkling wine but its distinctive Blueberry Port crafted from wild Maine blueberries. They serve it with a little piece of dark chocolate and recommend you sip, bite and sip again to really bring out the bright, fruity flavors of the port. I was also a fan of the 2012 Chardonnay that received a New York Times Best Buy, and was a nicely balanced, crisp dry white wine.
My mom and I were researching lunch spots in the car and came across my friend Charlotte Savino’s post in Travel + Leisure about the delicious scallop BLT at Southold Fish Market and it sounded too delicious to pass up. It was about a 10-15 minute bike ride from the vineyards. Sadly, the scallop BLT was not on the menu, but my mom ordered the fried scallops which were deliciously fresh and battered to perfection, while I stuck with a classic lobster roll and few raw oysters to start.
After lunch, our second stop was Croteaux Vineyards, where I was surprised to learn that it’s the only vineyard in the United States dedicated exclusively to producing Rosé wines. In terms of ambiance and setting, this colorful, hip, European-style vineyard definitely took the cake. Buses, limos, drop-offs and parties larger than eight are prohibited, keeping the backyard tasting area low-key with a killer view. Unfortunately, none of the wines blew me away, but naturally I’d think the rosés should be left to the French. 🙂
Our next and last stop was Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard, one of the newest wineries on North Fork with beautiful outdoor seating overlooking the vines. I picked up a bottle of their ” 2nd Bottle Red”, a blend of red grape varieties that produced a high tannic and peppery wine with a subtle hint of berries.
So, that was three vineyards out of the many beautiful estates spread across the region. You can bet I’ll be back to visit a handful more this summer, where I’ll continue to profess my love and raise my wine glass to New York’s North Fork vineyards.