Maybe you need to find a gift for someone who has everything. Or perhaps you’re tired of giving out gift cards to the mall year after year.
We hear you. That’s why we searched the region for out-of-the-box crowd-pleasers for the 2014 holiday season.
The North Fork offers plenty of options for unique, artisanal items or memorable experiences for people of all ages.
Here are 10 unique North Fork gifts to help you finish your list. (Remember to shop local this Small Business Saturday.)
1. Wine Club Membership
For the oenophile on your list, membership to the wine club at one of our local vineyards provides 12 months of savings on delicious vino. Nearly every winery on the North Fork offers some sort of membership that includes discounted bottles, free winemaker talks and tours and other exclusives. Club dues vary, though most vineyards require members to purchase one case of wine per year. Some wineries allow customers to choose their wine; others have tasting room staff and winemakers select the vintages.
At Lieb Cellars, which has tasting rooms in Mattituck, Cutchogue and East Hampton, patrons can choose a lower-tier or upper-tier level of membership. They also get access to events at Lieb’s wine library, where they can sample older, out-of-stock vintages.
“They get to taste some of the older wines that are no longer available,” said wine club manager Dana Kowalsick.
Other benefits include free tastings and a complimentary glass of wine with an order of “first fries” at First & South restaurant in Greenport.
“It’s always great to join a wine club on the North Fork. You get an opportunity to taste wines that aren’t available to the public,” Kowalsick said. “We’re happy that we have such loyal customers and we want to treat them well.”
Lieb Cellars is located at 35 Cox Neck Road in Mattituck, (631) 298-1942
2. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Membership
Community Supported Agriculture is a way for customers to contribute directly to local farmers and get the freshest fruits, veggies, dairy and more at wholesale prices. Here’s how it works: Shareholders pay a fee at the begining of the season to help growers meet their operating expenses and, in exchange, get to share the farm’s bounty.
With most programs, particpants get a weekly shipment of in-season fruits and vegetables. Some farms offer egg, meat, dairy and cider shares as well.
And when it comes to freshness, CSAs cannot be beat.
“Those vegetables are usually picked the day they are boxed for pickup,” said Karen Lee of Sang Lee Farms. “It’s different from being in a farm stand where they can sit for a few days. These are literally picked and given to you.”
Sang Lee closes for the winter, but its Peconic office is open for purchases of spring shares. Share prices vary.
Sang Lee Farms is located at 25180 Route 48 in Peconic, (631) 734-7001. Golden Earthworm is located at 652 Peconic Bay Blvd. in Jamesport, (631) 722-3302. Garden of Eve is located at 4558 Sound Ave., in Riverhead, (631) 722-8777.
3. Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center Gift Card
Sometimes the best presents don’t come in big boxes. This year consider giving the gift of an experience with a gift certificate to Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center. The Riverhead aquarium, with a “Lost City of Atlantis” theme, blends science and adventure, making it a great place to create memories that will last long after holiday celebrations have ended.
The gift cards never expire and are good for more than just admission. Recipients can use them to purchase memberships and admission, buy items at the café and gift shop or participate the aquarium’s signature interactive programs, like the Shark Dive or Penguin Encounter.
A family four-pack of tickets costs $94.
Gift cards can be purchased online at longislandaquarium.com or in person at the aquarium, 431 East Main St., Riverhead. (631) 208-9200
4. A Taste of the North Fork, Brandied Peaches
Impress the foodie on your list with delicious and artfully packaged brandied peaches from A Taste of the North Fork. The Southold boutique, with a reputation for high-quality North Fork-grown products, has a tremendous selection that would delight anyone with a sophisticated palate. But manager GP Lane recommends the brandied peaches as a perfect holiday present.
“They are fresh and ready to eat,” he said “It is a beautiful gift.”
The peaches are grown at Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue and then jarred at A Taste of the North Fork’s commercial kitchen with an irresistible mixture of brandy, sugar and spices that pairs perfectly with ice cream, but is delicious all on its own.
Each jar is $20.
A Taste of the North Fork is located at 53975 Main Road in Southold, (631) 765-8760.
5. Crooked Ladder Brewing Company, 64-ounce Hydro Flask
If you’re thinking of grabbing a growler for the craft beer-lover on your list, we have an idea to make your present even cooler. Crooked Ladder Brewing Company’s Hydro Flask is essentially a thermos and a growler in one. The Hydro Flask can keep beer cold for up to six hours on a hot day, said co-owner Duffy Griffiths.
The 64-ounce stainless steel, double-wall vacuum insulator is also versatile, Griffiths said.
“It’s great to take to the beach,” he said. “And, if you’re not drinking, you can also use it to keep hot stuff warm.”
The flask costs $65 which includes the cost of the first fill-up. Refills are $15.
Pick one up at Crooked Ladder’s tasting room, 70 West Main St., Riverhead. (631) 591-3565.
6. 8 Hands Farm, Wooly Washers
Anything purchased in the store at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue makes a worthy and unique gift. But the farm’s Wooly Washer soaps, stuffed inside a pouch made from a blend of wool from the farm’s Icelandic sheep, are an afforadable luxury.
“It’s a loofah and soap all in one,” said 8 Hands Farm co-owner Carol Festa. “And it’s anti-microbial. It was a hugely popular item last Christmas.”
The soaps, which are scented with lavender, peppermint eucalyptus or lemongrass eucalyptus, are made by Bellport-based Utopia Bath.
Festa said that the wool’s natural lanolin coating will make one’s skin glow.
“People can walk away with something unique from the farm,” she said. “It shows a little more thought.”
The farm also offers other cute ideas, like dryer balls made of wool and jewelry made from sheep horns and wool.
The soaps costs $14 each and are available at the Cutchogue farm store, open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this holiday season.
8 Hands Farm is located at 4735 Cox Lane in Cutchogue, (631) 533-2768.
7. White Flower Farmhouse, Common Good Dish Soap and French Linen Dish Towels
Transform a mundane task into a delightful ritual with French linen towels and Common Good biodegradable lavender dish soap from White Flower Farmhouse in Southold. The Brooklyn-based household cleaner company offers refillable items and products that are safe for kids and pets. And the linens will add a touch of elegance to any kitchen.
“It just looks pretty behind your sink,” said White Flower Farmhouse owner Lori Guyer. “It’s not your typical bottle of green dish soap.”
It’s a present that most anyone can use and at under $25 for the pair, would make a nice gift for a co-worker or your child’s teacher.
The soap is $7.50 and each towel is $17.
White Flower Farmhouse is located at 53995 Main Road in Southold, (631) 765-2353
8. Blue Ruth, Antler Jewelry
For the lady who prefers wood and natural materials to gemstones, antler tip necklaces from Greenport’s Blue Ruth offer one-of-kind accessories supplied by Mother Nature.
“Even if I repeat the style the antler is a one-of-a kind jewel found,” said Susan Pridham, Blue Ruth‘s owner and jewelry designer. “And it’s really North Fork.”
The necklaces feature Australian crystal to give the earthy jewelry a little glam and the pendants are strung on a sterling silver chain.
Pridham began offering the jewelry line last year and said it has gotten a lot of attention from shoppers.
And animal lovers can rest easy: No deer were harmed in the making of these necklaces.
“It’s what naturally falls off the buck,” Pridham said.
Blue Ruth is located at 29 Front Street in Greenport, (631) 477-6793.
9. Made in New York, Canvas Totes
The handmade canvas bags available at Made in New York in Greenport are a durable, timeless and practical purchase for anyone.
“You can use it for anything,” said Made in New York co-owner Jared Schiff. “Everybody has someplace to go and everybody has something to carry.”
The bags are made from repurposed leather sourced from within New York State. The leather is treated and dyed at the store and the canvas is coated with a mixture of soy and beeswax. The totes are also cut and sewn in-house before the straps are reinforced with brass rivets.
“It lasts forever,” Schiff said. “You can leave these out in a snowstorm and they will be fine.”
The unisex bags come in a variety of colors and are available only at the store. Prices range from $25 to $160.
Made in New York is located at 413 Main St. in Greenport, (646) 724-0471
10. Blossom Meadow Lip Balm
The best tool to fight chapped lips is crafted right here on the North Fork — and it makes a great stocking-stuffer.
One swipe along your smoocher and you’ll never buy a drugstore lip emollient again. We promise.
Laura Klahre, a beekeper and Blossom Meadow CEO, mixes the batches together in the kitchen of her Southold home. She estimates she makes about 1,000 tubes a year, many of which are sold at the tasting room of Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue, where her husband, Adam Suprenant, is owner and winemaker.
“I tried 20 different formulations before I got it right. I kept sending it to my mom and she was like, ‘But Laura, your last one was good,’ ” Klahre said. “When I came out with this one, she said, ‘This is it. You’ve hit it on the head.’ ”
With only beeswax, shea butter, aloe vera butter, avocado oil and hints of peppermint and mint, the balm doesn’t contain the difficult-to-pronounce ingredients found in many mass-produced lip salves.
Coffee Pot Cellars is located at 31855 Main Road, Cutchogue, (631) 765-8929.