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!
It seems to me that the secret to being a long-term and semi-mentally well-adjusted Manhattanite is to locate a periodic weekend escape hatch outside of town. Doesn’t have to be fancy; just a quiet place where you can unwind, walk on some wet leaves or sit in the sand. I respectfully submit that even the most hard-core urban dweller can benefit from a place where you can connect with nature a bit. And for a few years now, we have enjoyed traveling up north for a Columbia County weekend and finding small cottages to rent.If you’ve never been to Columbia County, it’s about two and a half hours north towards the eastern part of New York State, southeast of Albany and immediately west of the Massachusetts border. The land up there is completely beautiful with gentle rolling hills, winding roads and charming small towns like Hudson, an antiquing mecca for decorators and collectors.To our shellshocked city senses, it truly seems like virtually unspoiled country. There are no shortage of great weekend rental properties, and one of our favorite sites to find a home is VRBO. With VRBO’s help, we’ve stayed on a working farm from 1801 in Ghent, a sunny house up on a bluff that surveyed the twists and turns of the Hudson river in the (aptly named) town of Hudson and most recently, a charming little house in Hillsdale that sat right by a chattering stream in the woods. Other than the peace and scenery, one of the other things that keeps us traveling back is the sweet eats. Due to it being an agricultural region, the proximity of amazing produce makes for some pretty fantastic farm-to-table feasting. Half the fun is scouting fresh local ingredients and then cooking a big dinner in our borrowed home for the weekend, but the options to dine out are also stellar. If you’re planning a weekend trip (and you should, it’s great any time of year) here’s some of our own “must-visits”:
Stroll Warren Street in the town of Hudson (“Upstate’s Downtown!”) – over 60 antiques shops from high-end to low-brow, lots of cool home stores (Courtney loves Lilli & Loo) and a disproportionately large amount of galleries featuring wonderful art & photography exhibits.
Swoon Kitchenbar. Terrific food, great atmosphere. It’s all about the Brown Sugar Brined Pork Loin.
Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. Award winning sheep’s milk cheese and yogurt, and you can visit the sheep. For the kids, you sickos.
Local 111 Restaurant. We went here on a date night one time. As fresh and delicious a menu as anything I’ve ever had. For real.
Olde Hudson Specialty Food. Man, I love this little grocery. They’ve got the whole shebang there, much of it sourced locally. And the staff really seems to love working there. Refreshing.
Grazin’ Angus Acres. Strictly grass-fed animals that have more freedom to roam than we do. The steaks are thick and juicy, and here’s a tip: get a dozen eggs to scramble at home. Like nothing you’ve ever tasted.
Hudson-Chatham Winery. This historic farmhouse winery sits among a fragrant carpet of grapevines and makes for a happy place to have a tasting. Grab a couple of bottles on your way out; we suggest the Merlot, the Blanc de Blanc, or the Baco Noir Reserve. Or all three.
This morning, I woke up thinking of a place where design, fauna and wildlife coexist seamlessly. Where time stops, if you let it.Where the phone doesn’t ring and emails don’t exist. Where each meal, while not a transporting experience, nevertheless fills you with utter glee…enough so that you’ll make it to the next without that rotting pit of urgency and hunger.Where you wake up to an amazing cup of espresso and a great blue heron getting his morning started on a perch enjoying the morning sun not far away from yours. Where you lay in the sun pampered by an amazing staff delivering you snacks, drinks and cold massages to your warm head while your mind toils over the decision on whether it’s time for a swim in the ocean or the pool.This morning I woke up in New York City happy to be home, but dreaming fondly of our short getaway to the Mayan Riviera last week. It was a very special occasion for Lesa and me, so we left the kids with Grandma and treated ourselves to three super-luxe days at the Rosewood Mayakoba.Three quiet and pampered days that recharged our batteries. Three days of much needed “what can we do for you?”