Readers of my blog know I go the North Folk of Long Island every year to taste and buy wine. My wife and I enjoy the fine restaurants on the East end all serving foods grown from the many organic farms that over the years have replaced what used to be potato farms. I know this may sound strange to many, but the wines being produced on Long Island, New York are among the best in the world. They are being recognized by many of the world’s wine experts.
I learned this trip that there are 52 wineries, 2 breweries and one distillery on Long Island. Obviously, it was not possible to go to every one of the wineries, though we did go to Long Island Vodka (made from potatoes), which is also now making single cask whiskey (made partially from beer made on Long Island). Believe it or not, it is quite good and they can’t seem to keep the whiskey in stock.
We went back to some of our favorite wineries and had time to explore a few new ones. We were treated to some private tours of the wine making facilities and had the opportunity to taste some private reserved wines, all made possible by Jim and Linda Waters of Water’s Crest Wineries. I believe that some of the best wine on Long Island is being made by the following wineries (in no particular order): Water’s Crest, Wolffer, Lenz, Palmer, Paumanok, Macari, Sherwood Forest, and Shinn. Some of these are wineries I have never visited before, and some are old favorites. Except for Wolffer, all our located on the North Fork. Wolffer, on the other hand, is on the South Fork, in Sagaponack, (it has the most beautiful vineyard and tasting room).
If you are a wine lover, some important things to know: Everyone says that 2010 is a great year (we tasted some from the barrel at Palmer and I would absolutely agree). Cabernet Franc does very well on Long Island, so many wineries make a wine solely of this grape. I do not think it is done better anyplace else in the world. Most wineries make both red and white wine, along with rose and dessert wines. In other words, there is something for everyone, whether you like an oaky Chardonnay or sweet Ice Wines. If you go, be open, taste many wines and make up your own mind as to what you like best.
Some other highlights of our trip was staying in two incredible Bed and Breakfasts, one in Mattituck and the other in Southampton. In Mattituck, we stayed at the Cedar House on Sound and had some incredible breakfasts, as well as enjoyable conversations with the owners, David and Donna (who, along with Donna’s cousin, also make Scarola wines). In Southampton, we stayed at A Butler’s Manor, being run by, you guessed it, a former butler and his wife, Kim and Chris Allen. The service was impeccable, the food scrumptious, and eating breakfast outside on English bone china, drinking out of Wedgewood glasses, was an experience. He also maintains an incredible garden.
As always, finding good restaurants is also one of my goals. On this trip we had incredible meals at the Luce Hawkins,Allure on the North Fork and the Canal Café, the Plaza and Andrra all on the South Fork. We always stop at the Clam Man in Southampton for a quick lunch one day. Some of the best seafood, as always. Oh, and did I mention buying goat cheese from the famous Catapano’s Goat Farm, where you purchase in a shed with the goats outside.
For those of you that have never experienced Long Island, either the North Fork with the wineries and organic farming and slower pace, or the South Fork with all the upscale “Hampton scene” it is truly a wonderful time any time of the year. Be aware September and October are busy months for the growers and wine makers as they begin the process of harvesting the grapes and producing wine.
A further note, I do plan on taking a few days after a business conference in San Francisco this coming October and visiting some California wineries…stay tuned!