The North Fork of Long Island is now a destination, mainly because of the 35+ vineyards that are housed in the most northeast part of Suffolk County, beginning in Riverhead (75 miles from Manhattan) and through the various hamlets. Travelling east to west, the three main roads are Rt. 25 or Main Rd., Sound Ave., and Middle Rd., also called Country Road 48. The beautiful countryside, the acres of farmland is dominated by corn fields, pumpkin patches, apple orchards, potato farms, berry farms, organic vegetable crops, etc. Home of hundreds of deer, lavender fields, Christmas tree farms and sweet Bed & Breakfast Inns, the North Fork is 30 miles long. The Long Island Sound is to the north and the Peconic Bay hugs along the south part of the shore. The terrain, the soil, the climate pattern have become a haven for the growth of vines and have boosted the wine industry on Long Island in a big way. Along with agriculture, It has become a major source of the economy of the area.
Best to go during the week, especially during the harvest and pumpkin picking Autumn season. Traffic is backed up on the weekends. Multi-generational farms and their farmstands, pumpkin fields and corn mazes are family attractions. Book a Bed and Breakfast, make reservations at various vineyards, stop at a country kitchen for a meal, browse in the boutiques in Greenport village and drive along the shoreline and take in the beauty of the beaches and landscape of this peaceful gem. Orient Point is the end of the North Fork, similar to Montauk Point, the end of the South Fork. Taking a fishing trip out of Orient Point, simply watching the boats come in with the fisherman’s catch or taking a ferry over to New London, Ct. or the ferry from Greenport to Shelter Island are additional ideas to experience.
There are over 35 vineyards, many of which run tasting rooms for the pubic to sample wines and buy their wines. Wine tours are also available at certain vineyards, check on their websites for times and for reservations. Often you can enjoy a flight of wine along with a charcuterie board or other bites, sitting outside overlooking the vineyards or inside a cozy tasting room. Hargrave was founded in1973 and was the first of the area’s vineyards. Today it continues as Castello De Borghese. Baiting Hollow, Jamesport, Mattituck, Southhold, Peconic and Greenport are a few of the many villages of the area.
Bedell: Cutchogue - 40 years of producing hand-crafted wines in small batches. As farmers, they seek a natural balance between vine, soil and sunlight to maximize native flavors in their wines. Wine Enthusiast has rated Bedell's tasting room in the top 25 in the U.S; I love this tasting room, trendy, young and well appointed. Bedell's Merlot is the first New York wine in history served at the inauguration luncheon of Obama.
Rose Hill: Mattituck - formerly the Shinn Estates. A romantic bed and breakfast located on 22 acres of vineyards. There are 4 different guest bedrooms which include a complete country breakfast served daily and a complimentary wine tasting & charcuterie. Their philosophy is that great friends, great food and great wine are essential to a great life. I highly recommend spending an evening here and enjoying the area, visiting the farm stands, various vineyards and taking a peaceful drive along the water to Greenport.
Pindar: Peconic - 42 years of winemaking, they often have live music during tasting hours. You can also make a reservation for a wine tour and then enjoy a selection of 5 wines in a tasting, with indoor and outdoor tables.
They also offer Champagne tours and tastings.
Sannino: Cutchogue - a 5 acre vineyard with 2 guest room bed & breakfast and a tasting room. Unforgettable sunset views from the outside patio and a cozy inside bar overlooking the production room.
Places to Eat:
There are many places to have a casual meal, country kitchen breakfast or lunch, seafood houses by the water,
and delicious, well-established restaurants for a lovely dining experience.
Grana Trattoria - Jamesport - organically made wood fired pizza and daily fresh made organic pastas, this charming restaurant also offers Italian beef and fresh fish. They offer dishes from all areas of Italy, from North to South.
Pulcinella: The original restaurant is in Massapequa, Long Island and recently opened in Wading River. It's an authentic Neapolitan restaurant located on a gold course. It's a lovely setting and the food is excellent. Casual dining with attentive service, good size portions including many pasta dishes, chicken and veal entrees and seafood. There is also a bar menu.if you wanted a quick glass of wine and a few shared small plates.
Il Giardino - Aquebogue - serving authentic sicilian dishes and local seafood in a historic inn setting. Chef
John Gambino is constantly sourcing fresh seasonal ingredients to create amazing Sicilian dishes. They have a beautiful garden, outdoor bar, and fire pit lounge area and John will be harvesting the vegetables from the garden such as the zucchini flowers, baby eggplant, and juicy tomatoes! Lovely setting, fine Sicilian food.
Located in Calverton, the gateway to the Long Island Wine Region, this ciderhouse is 8,000 square ft., including a tasting room, retail space and a cafe. They offer a wide variety of naturally harvested apple cider, local beers and wine. The ciders have been developed from the apple products of New York State and there are a multitude of exceptional flavors to satisfy your palate. As part of the Farm to Fork Revolution, they serve fresh local produce from the North Fork, as well as gourmet pizzas, sandwiches and other seasonal fare. We had an excellent guacamole with good chips and a flight (4 tastings) of cider with alcohol. They often have entertainment; we enjoyed a piano player and singer, who sometimes performs as part of piano dueling. Fun, a must visit. Bring your family, they have seating by two different fireplaces, there are non-alcoholic choices, chips and board games to enjoy while visiting.
Long Island Spirits:
Grain to Glass since 2007, Long Island Spirits produces LIV Vodka, Rough Rider Bourbon & Rye, Pine Barrens American Single Malt, Deepwells Gin and a collection of Sorbetto's liqueurs. There is live music on the weekends, food trucks when the weather is nice and an assortment of board games (Jenna, checkers, Scattegories, Rummikube, etc.) in the tasting room for your enjoyment inside or outside on the patio. Try a canned cocktail, a vodka tasting, a craft cocktail or all of the above. Long Island Spirits continues to be an innovator by mingling Old World distilling traditions with New World spirit techniques. Gluten free Vodka is also available, processed from corn rather than potato. Go with a group of friends, have some fun, just make sure you have a designated driver or better yet, treat yourselves with a tuxedo ride to and from.
Other Interesting Things to Do:
Christmas Tree Farm: Shamrock in Mattituck, Dart's in Southhold, Santas in Cutchogue
Lavendar By the Bay: 17 acres and 80,000 plants, this farm adds a touch of Provence to the North Fork.
Essential oils, sea salts, bath salts, sachets and more are sold at the farm store. The English lavender blooms in June followed by the French Lavender in July.
A fruit farm and bakery on Sound Ave. in Riverhead. Opened in the Spring through the Fall. They serve amazing pies of all varieties, muffins, cookies, cakes, jam and jellies, all made from scratch on the farm mostly from the fruits grown right there. You can't leave the North Fork without buying a sweet to enjoy when you return home. Buy a pie for yourself and one for your neighbor. Everyone loves Briermere pies!