It’s been a family tradition for the past decade to head out to the East End of Long Island, more specifically, the North Fork’s wineries, to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. We started doing this before our seven grandchildren were born, so we've tailored this annual day trip to make it enjoyable for them, too.
We caravanned in three cars with a designated driver in each vehicle. This was an easy choice for Papa Kurt, my husband, as he isn't a wine lover.
Our first stop was the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard (2114 Sound Ave., Baiting Hollow). We enjoyed a pre-packed lunch from home at the outside picnic tables. After lunch, the gals went inside for wine tasting and the guys stayed outside in the picnic area with the kids, who amused themselves by playing hide and seek.
Our next stop was Martha Clara Vineyards (6025 Sound Ave., Riverhead). One enters through a really well put together gift shop loaded with wine-themed chotchkes — not a good place to parade through with seven youngsters. We quickly brought the kids outside to the petting zoo area in the back of the vineyard, which kept them occupied with a variety of animals — turtles, goats, pigs — while some of the adults did more wine tasting.
Further on down the road is Harbes Farm and Vineyard (715 Sound Ave., Mattituck). As the ladies toasted the birthday girl and shared a bottle of bubbly, the kids, their dads and Papa Kurt had fun at the Barnyard Adventure ($7.95 per person during the week — buy five tickets get the sixth for free), which included a pedal cart track, Barnyard Bounce, Charlotte’s Web, Goat Mountain and Bunnyville. Their petting zoo had goats, sheep, cows, pigs, and baby chicks. The kids loved this place.
The last vineyard we visited was Pindar (37654 Rte. 25, Peconic). As I had my fill of wine, I sat out for this tasting and stayed with the kids at yet another petting zoo.
Since there were 16 of us, our dinner reservations were made in advance at BBQ Bill’s Famous Texas Barbecue (47 Front St., Greenport). It’s kid-friendly with prices that won’t break the bank. The menu is simple and the food is good.
Further down the street is a little toy store that has an assortment of rubber ducks in its front window. The kids look forward to checking out the duck assortment and making their annual purchase. One of my granddaughters wanted a unicorn duck, and she found one there.
Next on the agenda was the Greenport Antique Carousel in Mitchell Park (Front Street, Greenport). It’s $2 per ride or 15 rides for $20, with a free ride to the lucky one who grabs the brass ring — and one of my granddaughters did! This is the highlight of the trip for the kids. After three or four rides, we headed off to Flavors Dessert Café (216 Front St., Greenport). There are mini-rides and pinball machines to entertain the kids while the adults purchased ice cream for them.
It was a perfect day in many ways. The kid were on a sugar high from the ice cream, but quickly quieted down and fell asleep for the remainder of the ride home. We’re all looking forward to our trip to the North Fork next year.