The questions start as soon as Michael Roche pulls the North Fork Wine Wagon — a pedal-powered contraption used to shuttle winery-goers from vineyard to vineyard — into the Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. parking lot in Peconic.
“How fast does it go?”
“Is this a bicycle?”
“Can I get a DWI on this thing?”
The answers: 6 mph, no and no.
North Fork Wine Wagon, which features seating for up to 15, is fueled by the leg power of its patrons and serves as a Wine Country transportation alternative to limos and personal cars. Roche offers tours, in which he steers the vessel along Main Road and plays music through a Blue Tooth speaker, in either three hour blocks or five hour blocks. Prices range from $450 to $800 per group, Roche said.
Known as cycle pubs or beer bikes, these type of tours are popular in tourist towns like Savannah, Ga. and Asheville, N.C. The idea to start a North Fork version came to Roche while traveling in Budapest last year.
“I said where can I do this at home?” said Roche, whose Bellmore home was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy and who now lives in North Bellmore. “The wineries are beautiful, they’re close together and there is a wide shoulder on the roads for farm equipment.”
Roche parks the wagon at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. in Peconic to drum up business for tours by letting patrons take it for a spin.
During tours, Roches steers the Wine Wagon as patrons pedal. Everyone is offered a helmet and the vehicle travels along the shoulder.
The cup holders on the bar are for soft drinks only. Open container laws prevent guests from enjoying alcoholic beverages during the ride.
“I wouldn’t do this if I thought people were going to get hurt,” Roche said. “We don’t interact with traffic and this isn’t a bicycle.”
The Wine Wagon makes a great activity for bachelor and bachelorette parties and family reunions, Roche said. And if a winery is crowded, it offers guests their own table space.
“You really make an entrance when you come in on this,” he said. “You experience the outdoors. You can enjoy a glass of wine and then burn off the calories after.”
Visit northforkwinewagon.com for more information.