10 off-the-beaten-path wineries on Long Island

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The main roads on both the North and South forks are dotted with wineries, their signs inviting visitors into tasting rooms overlooking acres of vines.

But other vineyards are off the beaten path, and wine seekers have to know where to go to find them. Some may be overlooked because of their size, others for their lack of "agri-tainment" like live music.

These days, the Long Island Wine Council has been focusing more on emphasizing the caliber of individual wines, which helps give some attention to the smaller vineyards, says executive director Steve Bate.

"We're doing well with the major wine reviewers," Bate says, noting that 80 wines bottled on Long Island scored 90 or above in The Wine Advocate critic judging, for instance.

Here are some under-the-radar spots worth seeking out:

Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard

Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard (1375 Peconic Lane, Peconic,
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard (1375 Peconic Lane, Peconic, 631-734-8282, sanninovineyard.com)

Its tasting room is probably the smallest on the North Fork, a small historic barn with just a few seats, but the quaint charm makes you realize you are someplace special.

Making only about 2,000 cases a year on the vineyard's 22 acres, the staffers love to talk about the wine's unique characteristics and awards. Head outside to perch at a table overlooking the vines.

Diliberto Winery

Diliberto Winery (250 Manor Lane, Jamesport, 631-722-3416, dilibertowinery.com)
(Credit: Aaron Zebrook)

Diliberto Winery (250 Manor Lane, Jamesport, 631-722-3416, dilibertowinery.com)

Owners Sal and Maryann Diliberto make this winery feel like a visit to an Italian trattoria. Diliberto himself makes the pizzas, with fresh mozzarella and basil, as Italian opera or other classical music plays. Outside, patrons gather at tables that sit alongside the vines.

Come winter, the Dilibertos hold "Sundays with Grandma" wine-tasting dinners featuring items such as meatballs and homemade bread ($65).

Whisper Vineyards

Whisper Vineyards (485 Edgewood Ave., St. James, 631-257-5222,
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

Whisper Vineyards (485 Edgewood Ave., St. James, 631-257-5222, whispervineyards.com)

One of the few vineyards operating tasting rooms west of the two forks, Whisper is part of the Borellas Farm operation. Large windows bring light into to the tasting room, where staffers man a small bar. Friends and families can gather in the back, where a long table allows up to 10 or more to gather around. Outside, bistro tables sit under umbrellas. Open Wednesdays through Sundays until Nov. 15.

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Loughlin Vineyards

Loughlin Vineyards (299B S. Main St., Sayville, 631-589-0027,
Buy photo
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

Loughlin Vineyards (299B S. Main St., Sayville, 631-589-0027, loughlinvineyard.com)

Not just off the beaten path, but hidden. Loughlin Vineyards is miles away from the East End vineyards at the historic Meadow Croft Estate in Sayville. Visitors pull up to the historic estate and then follow the dirt road to a small wooden barn that serves as the tasting room.

Lieb Cellars

Lieb Cellars (13050 Oregon Rd., Cutchogue (also Bridge
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

Lieb Cellars (13050 Oregon Rd., Cutchogue (also Bridge Lane, 35 Cox Neck Rd., Mattituck), 631-734-1100, liebcellars.com)

Open daily year-round, the winery puts fire pits on its deck for fall, where wine sippers can borrow a red blanket on those really chilly days or evenings. There's music 6-9 p.m. Friday nights through the fall and winter.

Sherwood House

Sherwood House (1291 Main Rd. Jamesport, 631-779-2817, sherwoodhousevineyards.com)
(Credit: Aaron Zebrook)

Sherwood House (1291 Main Rd. Jamesport, 631-779-2817, sherwoodhousevineyards.com)

Even with a sign pointing the way to the tasting room, Sherwood House still looks like a private home. Inside, the setup is also like a family abode, with typical dining and living rooms, rear patios with picnic tables -- it's almost like friends opened their home for a wine party. There's music most weekend days.

Kontokosta

Kontokosta (825 North Rd., Greenport, 631-477-6977, kontokostawinery.com) There's
(Credit: Nicole Horton)

Kontokosta (825 North Rd., Greenport, 631-477-6977, kontokostawinery.com)

There's a winery in Greenport? Indeed, the newer winery is north of the village, so close to Long Island Sound that there's a satellite bar and picnic tables perched right on the bluff. The large 4,500-square-foot industrial barn serves as the main tasting room for this winery, which puts out 4,000 bottles a year. The vineyard asks that you don't bring food, but sells small meat and cheese trays.

Coffee Pot Cellars

Coffee Pot Cellars (31855 Main Rd. Cutchogue, 631-765-8929,
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

Coffee Pot Cellars (31855 Main Rd. Cutchogue, 631-765-8929, coffeepotcellars.com)

Maybe it's the observational beehive on the wall by the door (don't worry, it's behind glass) or the many beeswax items for sale -- but there's a quirky sensibility here.

Adam Suprenant, winemaker at the much larger Osprey's Dominion down the road, owns this spot with his wife, Laura Klahre, who spends most days behind the bar answering questions from patrons. They buy grapes from all over the North Fork to make their own wines. Named after the Orient Point Lighthouse's moniker, the small winery does indeed have a coffeehouse vibe. Fall hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays through Mondays, and visitors can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy with the seller's wine.

"It's a good chance to meet the owners and have a serious informative talk about wine, and also about nature," Suprenant says.

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Croteaux Vineyards

Croteaux Vineyards (1450 South Harbor Rd. Southold, 631-765-6099,
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Croteaux Vineyards (1450 South Harbor Rd. Southold, 631-765-6099, croteaux.com)

The vineyard is unique in that it only makes and sells rosé wines, from a light merlot to a full cabernet franc to a sparkling rose, all in the dry French style of winemaking. Aptly, guests relax in a French-inspired garden with a view of the winery's historic barn. "Our customers say they feel like they have been taken to Provence for the afternoon," says Paula Croteaux, who owns the winery with her husband, Michael.

No food is allowed to be brought on the property, in an effort to make the experience less about picnicking and more about the wine tasting. Usually open only March through September, Croteaux expects to be open Saturday and Sundays through October this year, as long as the wine hasn't sold out.

One Woman

One Woman (5195 Old North Rd. Southold, 631-765-1200,
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

One Woman (5195 Old North Rd. Southold, 631-765-1200, onewomanwines.com)

No live music. No big groups allowed. No food served here. The calm atmosphere gives the experience of being at a winery without all the fuss. The aptly named vineyard is solely owned by Claudia Purita, who planted her fields 14 years ago.

The tasting room is a small red barn that fits about five people at a time -- fine, because visitors would rather sit on the picnic tables on the front lawn.

"It's a little more laid back," says visitor Susan Abbott, 35, of Westchester. "A more country vibe, I guess."

Try a glass of the Grüner Veltliner ($9), a mellow but not too sweet Austrian white wine.

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