Tasting rooms at Long Island’s 40-plus vineyards are much like the wines they serve: Some are bold and busy, others are subtle and quaint. Here are some spots that offer a distinctive atmosphere as well as sips of the latest releases:
Personal attention is what One Woman Wines & Vineyards in Southold is all about. The tasting room — a 119-square-foot converted tool shed — may be small (room for only eight people), but each patron gets a full wine tutorial.
“We cater to a low-key clientele who want to know about wines. They can ask a million questions and won’t feel like they are bothering anybody,” says co-owner Gabriella Purita, who runs it with her mother (and founder), Claudia.
The focus is on the 12 wines offered for tastings. The rustic interior is always decorated with fresh flowers. Grab-and-go cheese plates are available, and outside food is allowed. (631-765-1200, onewomanwines.com)
Wine tastes better in a horse stall at McCall Wines in Cutchogue, which has converted an old potato barn into a tasting room with sawdust floors and working stables.
“People enjoy the space because it’s different,” co-owner Nicola Plimpton says. “They even take pictures in there.”
The food available is simple — cheese plates, nuts and chocolate — but the real foodie secret is in the back, where the winery sells grass-fed beef from cattle raised on the property. Note: McCall closes in the deep of winter. (631-734-5764, mccallwines.com)
Set in a 1690 Greek Revival home in St. James, Harmony Vineyards’ tasting room doubles as a jazz club featuring local musicians from 8 to 10 on Saturday nights.
“It’s a great place to hang out and relax,” says owner David Acker, who established the vineyard in 2002. “Harmony by definition is a pleasing combination of elements as a whole. The wine is one element, the venue is another, and we have a terrace that overlooks our vines leading down to Stony Brook Harbor.”
Between sips of Harmonious Red Blend Bordeaux and Chablis-style chardonnay, guests can join in trivia night on Fridays and listen to acoustic music from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. There’s a farm-to-table brunch buffet on Sundays. (631-291-9900, harmonyvineyards.com)
Walking into the tasting room of Raphael in Peconic, visitors feel like they’ve entered an Italian château in Tuscany with its high ceilings, 11 chandeliers and Roman tile roof. The main bar is even shaped like a large wine barrel. This spacious tasting room can hold up 150 people (groups of eight or more need a reservation).
The stars of the show are the sauvignon blanc and cabernet franc. On Sundays there’s live music from 1 to 4 p.m. In the gift shop, wine-inspired items from glassware to cheese boards made from old wine barrels are sold. Food consists of cheese plates, cold antipasto and flatbread pizzas. (631-765-1100 ext. 105, raphaelwine.com)
Curl up on a couch with a glass of wine in front of the fireplace at Sherwood House Vineyards’ tasting room in Jamesport.
“We offer a living room setup,” general manager Kristen Pisseri says. “It’s very low key.”
Acoustic music runs 2-6 p.m. Saturdays, but the crowd never extends beyond 60 people. Cheese platters prepared by Lombardi’s Love Lane Market are for sale, and patrons can bring in their own light bites. (631-779-2817, sherwoodhousevineyards.com)
The entrance to The Old Field Vineyards’ tasting room in Southold is a chicken coop, which immediately makes it a standout. There’s no music or any other frills in this modest barn from the 1800s.
“We are a true winery, not a bar,” co-owner Christian Baiz says. “We are here just for the wine. It’s not the busload crowd that we are focused on.”
Try the Rooster Tail red (a cabernet/franc blend) or the Commodore Perry (a 2010 merlot). Farm-fresh eggs are for sale (when the hens comply) as well as homemade, wine-infused treats such as pinot noir wine jelly, pinot noir hot pepper tapenade and pinot noir mustard. Picnics are welcomed. (631-765-0004, theoldfield.com)
Not many tasting rooms let you sleep over. But Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse in Mattituck also operates as a four-room bed-and-breakfast. Guests receive a complimentary wine tasting. Owner Barbara Shinn personally conducts a tour of the vineyard while her husband, David Page, delivers a tour of the winery and explains the fermenting process.
Light fare (cheese, salami, nuts, olives) is available to pair with some wines, and Otto & Maria’s food truck offers authentic Guatemalan cuisine from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. (631-804-0367, shinnestatevineyards.com)
Guests who pull into Borella’s Farm Stand in St. James get a surprise when they encounter Whisper Vineyards’ tasting room. This European pub-style room is inviting with its Old World charm and furniture made from reclaimed wood.
“I wanted it to feel like home,” winery co-owner Laura Gallagher says. “People like the space because it feels warm. It’s a nice place to come and talk.”
Along with their award-winning 2009 Red Cape Blend and 2013 sauvignon blanc, bourbon tastings are available and craft beers are on tap. Noshes include gourmet cheese and charcuterie platters, plus wine-infused chocolate. (631-257-5222, whispervineyards.com)
Beasley the pug greets those who enter the tasting room at Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue. The friendly pup not only provides warm hospitality but he even has his own wine, Beasley’s Blend, a merlot-cabernet franc heavy blend with black cherry, spice and licorice flavors.
Co-owner and tasting-room manager Laura Klahre talks to her guests in the intimate setting about her beekeeping and Blossom Meadow homemade products (candles, lip balm and lotion bars) that she makes with beeswax. She uses the bees’ honey to sweeten the sparkling hard apple cider, Cyser.
“I love pouring wine, hanging out and talking with people. I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says as she pours a 2011 merlot. “We are a very mom-and-pop type of business.”
From June to September, Klahre’s beehive sits in the tasting room, and throughout the month of September she has monarch butterfly caterpillars there.
“It’s fun to drink some wine and watch these critters moving around,” Klahre says. (631-765-8929, coffeepotcellars.com)
The patio at Clovis Point Winery and Vineyard’s tasting room in Jamesport is open year-round.
“We drop the panels on the side and heat it. The patio gets kind of cozy,” general manager Rob Rudko says. “It’s a combination of the greenhouse effect and blasting the heat from the inside out.”
On Saturdays and Sundays, live music ranges from country to pop, 1:30-5:30 p.m. Guests sit at rustic wooden tables made from wine barrels, and pair cheeses, dips, meats and spreads with the wines they choose. Each month, local artists install shows in the tasting room. In winter, wine classes are offered after the holiday season. (631-722-4222, clovispointwines.com)
BIG & BUBBLY
At Sparkling Pointe in Southold, Brazilian art adorns the walls, crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and big windows fill this modern-looking tasting room with natural light. The venue holds 250 and offers two working fireplaces.
“We make only sparkling wines in the traditional champenoise method,” marketing coordinator Kelsey Cheslock says. “Our current release is a 2013 Brut with green apple/pear notes.”
Visitors can participate in the “Eat, Drink and Be Sparkling” food and wine pairing series each weekend. (631-765-0200, sparklingpointe.com)
Enter the tasting room of Jason’s Vineyard and dive into Greek mythology as the theme is based on Jason and the Argonauts. The bar is in the shape of the ship Argos that Jason sailed in search of the Golden Fleece. In fact, the tasting room serves a wine called the Golden Fleece, a blend of five white grapes (chardonnay, Seyval blanc, Cayuga, Vidal blanc and riesling).
“It’s something different,” owner Jason Damianos says. “People want to pick up oars and sail away.”
Three alpacas and 13 sheep graze in the front of the property, and live music runs from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays until the end of November. (631-238-5801, jasonsvineyard.com)
If you’re spending a day at Long Island’s wineries, you need a plan. Newsday’s WineryFinder lets you pick and choose among spots with live music, a picnic area, on-site food, venues that welcome large groups and more. We’ve got photos, profiles and other multimedia to help you plan your visit.
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