Uncork an adventure at Long Island wineries offering rare tasting experiences
If a typical winery tasting, with its quick-pour flights of wine and rote-delivered tasting notes, is the oenophilic equivalent of speed dating, Long Island’s North Fork offers fast times aplenty.
But as the region’s wine industry matures — the oldest plantings are now more than 40 years old — properties are increasingly in transition. In recent years, new owners and winemakers have taken charge at many North Fork properties, bringing a studied sensibility to vineyard management, winemaking and visitor experience.
Now, visitors can peek behind the curtain (in winery and field), enjoying drinks and learning at once. From classes and cellar dinners to lunch among the vines and roving tasting tours, these East End wineries are offering guest experiences that are as delicious as they are informative.
Tastings in the wine cellar at Macari Vineyards
Since 2013, Macari Vineyards’ juicy yet peppery sparkling rosé “Horses” has attracted a cult following — it’s poured at some of NYC’s hippest natural wine bars. In 2020, the Macari family welcomed noted winemaker Byron Elmendorf to lead winemaking operations, and this summer and fall, staff are shepherding groups of two to six visitors to the winery’s stone-lined barrel vault for intimate tastings.
Get to know five wines in the cool, subterranean quiet — and when hunger strikes, feast upon a lavish spread of cheeses and charcuterie prepared by Love Lane Market chef Lauren Lombardi.
Custom experiences for larger groups are also available through Macari's 500-acre property.
INFO $75-185 per person (book online); 150 Bergen Ave., Mattituck; 631-298-0100, open daily; macariwines.com
Buggy through the vines at Peconic Bay Vineyards
The Soloviev Group's revamped Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue is developing the property into a luxe, wine-oriented resort hotel. Visitors can once again sample bottles (or local oysters, on weekends) in the tasting room or farm stand, or get to know the rolling property via vineyard picnics and tasting tours. But there's novelty, too.
Buggy through the vines in an open-air electric Moke (think part Jeep, part golf cart), tasting wines alongside the grapes that’ll make up this year’s vintage. Consider the flavor of a delicate riesling among ripening, pale yellow grapes, or study dense green clusters of sauvignon blanc while swirling sips of the brisk, citrus-inflected wine around your mouth.
Or cozy up on a picnic blanket (pillows provided) beneath a shade in the vineyard. Try wines from recent vintages, then pick a bottle to drink along with a spread of locally made breads, meats and cheeses.
INFO $55-57 per person (book online); 31320 Main Rd., Cutchogue; 631-735-9192, open Friday through Monday; peconicbayvineyards.com
Classes at Terra Vite Winery & Vineyard
North Fork natives Jacqui and Greg Goodale acquired the former Diliberto Winery in Jamesport last year. With winemaker Kelly Koch (formerly of Macari Vineyards, Bedell Cellars) running the winery, they’re hoping their freshly reappointed tasting room will become a hub for viticultural education.
General manager and sommelier Jessy Fusco (sister to owner Jacqui) hosts beginner and regional wine classes twice a month on Sundays. Terra Vite also offers piano bar nights, ladies night bingo and live music on Saturdays starting in May.
INFO Classes, $65-$75 (schedule and bookings online); 250 Manor Lane, Jamesport; 631-722-3416, open Wednesday through Sunday; terravitevineyard.com