With at least 44 wineries now open to the public on Long Island, figuring out which to visit can be tough. Do you want live music and lots of space to picnic near the vineyards? A guided tour of a winemaking operation that's also family-friendly? Maybe you'd prefer a quieter, off-the-beaten-path tasting room where you might be the only patron the winemaker sees all afternoon?
Newsday's new Winery Finder is designed to help you plan your day exploring local vineyards. Visit it at newsday.com/wineryfinder and plug in your preferences for food, entertainment and extras.
Below are some of the wineries that are particularly good for large groups -- they are big enough to handle a crowd, plus they entertain with more than just wine (think on-site food, lawn games). Some even allow leashed dogs.
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard
It's the first vineyard you hit on Sound Avenue going east -- and it's always a party.
One of the owners, Richard Rubin, a music aficionado, chooses high-caliber bands to play at the vineyard 2-6 p.m. weekends year-round.
Families seem to love visiting the horses that have been rescued, another part of the vineyard's mission. Tours run at 1:30, 3 and 4:30 p.m. weekends for a $5 donation for those older than 11. And there are pony rides on 1-5 p.m. weekends ($10), weather permitting.
There's also a children's menu, with choices such as mac-and-cheese and hot dogs, while adults can enjoy sandwiches, cheese platters and merlot meatballs. You can bring your own snacks, too, and set up on a small picnicking area on the lawn, but no outside beverages or coolers are allowed.
But it's adults only inside the tasting room or covered porch.
INFO: 2114 Sound Ave., Baiting Hollow, 631-369-0100, bhfvineyard.com
Osprey's Dominion Vineyards
The spacious lawn overlooking the vineyard fits a big crowd, making Osprey's a go-and-hang-for-the-day kind of place.
Live music plays in the gazebo on Friday evenings and weekend afternoons, and you can rent lawn games such as boccie and volleyball for $5 per hour.
Homemade sangria and Greenport Harbor Ale complement the usual wine samplings -- bring your own food or buy eats such as barbecue fare.
INFO: 44075 Main Rd., Peconic, 631-765-6188, ospreysdominion.com
Martha Clara Vineyards
With its acres and acres of lawn, an animal farm, large porch and tasting room, Martha Clara knows how to handle crowds and keeps it very family-friendly.
Kids love this place, parents say. And why not? Llamas, Scottish Highland cattle, goats and large turtles can be pet. Teens play Frisbee and families join in on a beanbag toss.
"They can run and play," says Bridget Thomas, 29, of East Northport, of her small children. "We met six kids while we were here."
Besides the large round tasting bar, satellite bars on the patio help keep patrons moving. On weekends year-round, bands play country, blues and jazz. Important: Martha Clara does not permit outside food -- instead, patrons will find a rotating roster of food trucks outside.
INFO: 6025 Sound Ave., Riverhead, 631-298-0075, marthaclaravineyards.com
Duck Walk South
Duck Walk produces some 35,000 cases of wine a year, making the vineyard a major player on the local wine scene.
It even has two tasting rooms. The South Fork location's Normandy chateau-styled tasting room is often three-people deep at the bar, with a young crowd and plenty of groups of friends gathered at the tables outdoors.
Bring your own food, or buy cheese and crackers. Try its Vidal Ice Wine, made from grapes frozen on the vine. Live music on late Friday afternoons and 1-5 p.m. on the weekends until about mid-October, s and kids are welcome, as are dogs on leashes.
INFO: 231 Montauk Hwy. Water Mill, 631-726-7555, duckwalk.com
The Lenz Winery
The vineyard is known for its dry French-style wines and traditional Bordeaux varieties.
While the tasting room is not large, the winery's outdoor areas can handle a crowd in seating areas arranged under trees or cloaked by greenery. Music is from 2-5 p.m. weekends through Columbus Day. Bring your own food or choose from basic snacks such as cheese and crackers.
On Sept. 19, the vineyard hosts its annual Merlot World Classic, where winemakers pit their red wines against each other for bragging rights. Spectators can taste wines from all over the world ($50).
INFO: 38355 Main Rd., Peconic. 631-734-6010, lenzwine.com
Jason's Vineyard has a nautical feel, with a bar shaped like a Viking ship.
Apropos, since the owner based the design on the Greek mythology story of Jason and the Argonauts. This place is very relaxed, with a vibe that fits families, couples and groups of friends. Music plays on weekend afternoons through the end of October; anything from jazz to classic rock to country, says marketing director Andrea Parks.
INFO: 1785 Main Rd., Jamesport, 631-238-5801, jasonsvineyard.com
Laurel Lake Vineyards
The tasting room is spacious, with rows of tables overlooking the vineyard, and the view from the equally expansive two-story deck seems to go on forever.
On the lawn by the vines, tables and chairs, covered by aesthetically pleasing tarps, are another favorite place to sit. Kids and leashed dogs are welcome, too.
A new food truck serves Friday-Sundays starting Labor Day weekend; then, no outside food is permitted.
3165 Main Rd., Laurel, 631-298-1420, llwines.com
Inside, one might feel as if sitting in a London pub, but outside this is every bit a North Fork vineyard.
Before all that, though, take a self-guided tour by following the signs that start at the entrance, looking through windows that show each step of the winemaking process, from steel fermentation tanks to the barrel aging room. "It's a very relaxed atmosphere," says Greg Lico, 27, of Stamford, Connecticut, who was visiting with his friend. "Very partyesque, too."
As with most of the larger vineyards, music plays on weekend afternoons through the second week of November. No outside food is allowed, but on weekends, hit the food truck run by the popular Noah's Restaurant in Greenport, which is parked on-site.
5120 Sound Ave., Riverhead, 631-722-9463, palmervineyards.com
It's large enough to handle a crowd, but still feels personal, too.
In fact, expect one of the Pugliese family members to stop by and say hello. Families love the atmosphere. Kids (or adults) can buy fish food for $1 a cup to feed the koi and turtles. Pinot grigio fan? Pugliese makes it on the property, one of the few on the island that do so.
Live music plays through October, and pets on leashes are welcome.
34515 Main Rd., Cutchogue, 631-734-4057, pugliesevineyards.com
You'll find a Tuscany feel here -- inside, the cavernous tasting room has a barrel-like bar in the middle and plenty of room for dancing (the vineyard often hosts weddings and other private events, so call ahead).
For respite, head to the balcony that overlooks the vineyards.
A wide range of live musical acts, from jazz to Afro-Cuban, to acoustic and pop, carries on on weekends through December. Snacks, such as cheese and cured meats with crackers, are available. No outside food.
39390 Main Rd., Peconic, 631-765-1100, raphaelwine.com