While the summer may belong to the beaches, fall is all about the North Fork, especially winery tours.
With 50 wineries and 44 tasting rooms on the North Fork, smart visitors may want to turn the driving over to someone else.
Bridget Fhagen of Manorville recently joined a group of friends for a three-winery turn on the North Fork Wine Wagon, a 15-seat bicycle that is best described as a picnic table on wheels. Pedaling from place to place was "definitely a workout," says Fhagen, 31. "When you got to the next winery, you were thirsty."
Looking for your own guided adventure? Here are some ways to get from point A to point B.
BY PEDAL POWER
NORTH FORK WINE WAGON
WHEN | WHERE Half- or full-day tours for up to 15 people depart and return to Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., 42115 Main Rd./Route 25, Peconic. Reservations required.
INFO 516-220-1392, northforkwinewagon.com
PRICE $450 half day; $800 full day (tastings extra)
Owner Michael Roche began offering three-winery tours in mid-August, inspired by beer wagons he spotted while traveling in Budapest. The contraption has a few non-pedaling seats.
BY TROLLEY OR BUS
NORTH FORK WINE TROLLEY
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekends from Tanger Outlet Center, Riverhead. Reservations required.
INFO 631-369-3031, northforktrolley.com
PRICE $79 three-winery tour (includes tastings)
Riders get shuttled via a 28-seat trolley to three wineries, where riders have about 45 minutes at each place to do a tasting and look around. Groups who book the entire trolley can personalize the tour with pit stops at, say, a farm stand for roasted corn. "Not many people can say they've been on a trolley before," says co-owner Carolyn Miskulin. The company has been offering such tours for 10 years.
BUS TOUR AND DINNER
WHEN | WHERE Bus departs 10:30 a.m. Friday-Sunday from the Library Cafe, 274 Main St., Farmingdale. Returns to the restaurant for dinner at 6:30 p.m.
INFO 516-752-7678, thelibrarycafe.com
PRICE $95, plus gratuity (includes tastings at three vineyards and a three-course dinner)
This tour takes the guesswork out of which wineries to visit — and where to grab dinner afterward. A party bus shuttles passengers from Farmingdale to three wineries, where the group does tastings before heading back west to wind down over a meal. Good to know: Drinks aren't included at the restaurant, but riders may purchase and enjoy wine from the vineyards visited.
BY CAR OR VAN
YOUR CAR, THEIR DRIVER
WHEN | WHERE 24 hours/7 days a week, with pickups throughout the tristate area.
INFO 888-327-4460, mainstreetdrivers.com
PRICE $40 an hour Friday-Sunday, $35 an hour Monday-Thursday
Main Street Drivers is a different twist on a car service — the company's staff chauffeurs you in your own car, essentially acting as designated drivers for hire. Jerry De Luca, 29, of West New York, New Jersey, recently hired the company to take him and a date to the North Fork for a day at the wineries. "I didn't want to have to spend half the day looking at my GPS," says De Luca.
WHEN | WHERE 11:30 a.m.-noon pickups daily from Riverhead to Orient, tour wraps between 5 and 5:30 p.m.
INFO 631-765-4689, vintagetour1.com
PRICE $87.50 a person weekdays, $99 weekends with four-person minimum, 14-person maximum (includes two tastings and a boxed lunch)
If you want an informative tour with a local, North Fork native, Jo-Ann Perry's full-day excursion includes a winery tour and stops such as the beach, farm stand or goat farm.
"I'm a local, so I know the back roads and the history," Perry says. "I'm your guide for the day and try to give you a good variety of what's going on out here."
ALSO TRY The Long Island Wine Council offers free shuttles noon-5:30 p.m. over Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 8-9, from the Mattituck LIRR station, Tanger Outlet in Riverhead and the Orient Point Ferry, making stops at various wineries and businesses offering discounts and specials.
ABOUT PRIVATE LIMO/ PARTY BUS TOURS
Many companies offer private tours of the wineries via limousine or a party bus for groups. Here are some things to know:
1. Most limos hold 6-8 people, a party bus about 50.
2. Expect to pay around $65 an hour for a limo, $150 for a bus, suggests Al Caliano, owner of Regency Limousine in Smithtown, plus gratuity. You'll pay extra for tastings and snacks unless you book an all-inclusive package.
3. Wineries restrict bus/limo visitors — either you or the company will need to make a reservation at each winery you plan to visit. Most won't accept a bus or limo after 1 or 2 p.m.