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What to expect when visiting the wineries this winter

Visiting Long Island wineries has become a winter

Visiting Long Island wineries has become a winter pastime. At Mattebella Vineyards in Southold, guests can do a food and wine pairing in heated igloos and individual fire pits throughout the property.  Credit: Gordon Grant

Don’t let the cold keep you from taking a trip out east as some wineries are open for business this winter. However, the tasting rules might different from your last visit regarding seating, capacity and consumption. Here’s a guide that uncorks what to expect:

In some cases, reservations are required.

While many vineyards allow walk-ins, others are strictly reservations only this winter.

Clovis Point Winery in Jamesport is open seven days a week (noon-5 p.m., Mondays-Thursdays and noon-6 p.m., Fridays-Sundays) but requires a reservation for parties no larger than six. Visitors can sip its signature red wine Archaeology, which blends merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah and petit verdot, on the covered outdoor heated patio where there are 12 social distanced tables of different sizes. There’s occasionally live acoustic music on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. (1935 Main Road in Jamesport, 631-722-4222, clovispointwines.com)

Some wineries are carryout only.

Certain vineyards are temporarily closing their tasting rooms and instead offering vino to go. The Old Field Vineyards in Southold provides curbside pickup on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"You can pull in like a drive-in movie and order off the roadside menu in the parking area. If you call one of the two posted cell numbers to place the order, we will fill it," says vice president Christian Baiz.

Guests can bring a tasting flight package home including four wines (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, Rooster Tail and merlot) each bottled separately and labeled in tasting size increments (4 oz. each) with tasting notes ($25). (59600 Main Road in Southold, 631-765-0004, theoldfield.com)

Takeout service is also available at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue where the three-wine flight consists of a white (pinot grigio) and two reds (merlot and cabernet franc). (36225 Main Road in Cutchogue, 631-734-7537, bedellcellars.com)

Food is required with any on-premise drinking.

The New York State Liquor Authority requires that food be sold alongside any alcohol that is served.

Many come to Jamesport Vineyards for not only for the wine but for its wood-fired oven pizza served Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Choose between various styles of 14-inch pies such as the Buddy Boy ($21) — fresh mozzarella with spicy soppressata and a drizzle of hot honey or the Pork N Greens ($25) — roasted garlic cream sauce, prosciutto and arugula with pecorino cheese and a balsamic drizzle. These pair well with Mélange de Trois — Jamesport’s red blend of lagrein, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. (1216 Main Road in Jamesport, 631-722-5256, jamesportwines.com)

There’s limited capacity at each venue.

Because of the pandemic, the occupancy of each winery has a limited capacity.

Up to 35 guests can fit in the tasting room at Jason’s Vineyard in Jamesport where the centerpiece is the Argo boat bar, which serves their signature five-grape white wine the Golden Fleece — blending chardonnay, seyval blanc, Cayuga, vidal blanc and riesling. Don’t forget to visit the sheep and alpacas on the front of the property. (1785 Main Road in Jamesport, 631-238-5801, jasonsvineyard.com)

You might have to take it outside — in heated igloos.

Experience the great outdoors as seating is only available al fresco at some wineries.

At Mattebella Vineyards in Southold, guests can do a food and wine pairing in heated igloos and individual fire pits throughout the property that hold two to eight per party.

"We provide full table service outdoors," says manager Dan Welge. "Every party is separated and distanced."

Although reservations aren’t required, they are recommended in order to secure a spot. (46005 Main Road in Southold, 631-655-9554, mattebella.com)

Time limits may be enforced.

Certain wineries are invoking time limits on people’s stay in order to accommodate a flowing customer base.

At RG|NY in Riverhead, there’s a two-hour maximum visit in the tasting room indoor pavilion. Guests can relax with a glass of RG|NY’s white merlot along with a bowl of its homegrown pecans during their stay. (6025 Sound Avenue in Riverhead, 631-298-0075, rgnywine.com)

Over at Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards in Peconic, the tasting room, which holds 24 people, has a time limit of 90-minutes. The popular drink this time of year is the spiced wine which is a mulled red served warm in a collector’s mug that people can take home ($12).

"It has a licorice-anise taste with a bit of nutmeg flavor," says Peter Carey, Osprey’s tasting room manager. "You can even put cinnamon sticks in it, which adds to the experience." (44075 Main Road in Peconic, 631-765-6188, ospreysdominion.com)

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