We’ve enthusiastically espoused the endless charm and beauty of a trip to Long Island’s North Fork here before. The incredible fresh food, the sandy bay beaches, the peaceful low key vibe, and of course, the wine. Having gone to almost all of the vineyards out here, I’ve arrived at the opinion that there are now a few that are absolutely making world-class juice. But if you only have time in an afternoon to visit a couple, our recommendation for a good time is simple: Paumanok, Lieb & Corey Creek.I’d suggest starting out your tasting tour at Paumanok. This family run vineyard has been making wine on Long Island since 1983 and they have damn near perfected their process. Pretty much anything on the flight menu is guaranteed to be excellent, but for me current standouts are the Chenin Blanc & Cab Franc Grand Vintage. And it’s not on the menu, but ask them if they’ll let you taste the newest Chardonnay offering called minimalist. It’s kind of awesome. I’d put a glass of that toe-to-toe against anything coming from the West Coast. Magic grapes.When you scoot over to Lieb Cellars next, grab a seat in their rustic tasting room or if the weather permits, one of the adirondack chairs on their landscaped grounds. I’d suggest you grab a glass of one of their big hits: the Pinot Blanc. And on the red side, I really enjoy their Reserve Merlot– richer than you would expect with great body, but also totally drinkable alone without food. Speaking of which, at this point in your wine tour you probably better have eaten something or you’ll be on the floor.Last but not least, I suggest you wind up your afternoon at Corey Creek. Corey Creek is an offshoot of another longtime producer, Bedell. I don’t mean to be rude, but since you’ve been drinking all afternoon, I suggest you skip the pleasant tasting flights and just go straight for the gusto… order an entire cold bottle of their award-winning Gewurztraminer. Buttery, soft, round, smooth, and utterly delicious. This is a very good bottle. Even better, these guys have the most beautiful tasting room set-up this side of Napa so grab a seat in this airy, open, nouveau barn perched high above the vineyard and watch the sunset over vines as far as the eye can see. What a great day! Just make sure to call a taxi to take you home!
We took advantage of the long weekend and rented a house in Cutchogue, out on the North Fork of Long Island. It was just off Nassau Point Road nestled on an inlet from Little Peconic Bay (map.) There’s no real “scene” on the North Fork, and this is one of the things we enjoy about it. If you enjoy wine and touring gorgeous vineyards, though, you’ve got tons of options (favorites: Shinn, Paumanok, Jamesport, Bedell, Corey Creek) and they are totally family friendly. Eve had a ball romping in the grass while Courtney and I sipped.
We also like to cook and grill at home, and there’s tens of dozens of local farm stands offering fresh and local produce, flowers, eggs, beef, and anything else you could imagine. We made a morning out of driving around and picking up spectacular stuff – right now, the strawberries and asparagus are in season and they are insanely good.
The beaches there are really pretty and clean, and because we were on the bay side the waters were smooth and cool and perfect for a 21 month old to explore. All in all, it’s a terrific nearby getaway with the kid. Also conducive to getting back to feeling like a kid yourself.