Some North Fork vineyards offer a festival-like atmosphere. Others are host to a more intimate and educational experience.
Although a vibrant, energetic crowd can be fun, you might want to skip the cornhole contests and The Rolling Stones cover bands in favor of a peaceful afternoon in Long Island Wine Country. For some, tiny tasting rooms are the salve offering tasters a chance to connect with the wine and winemakers in ways that are impossible at larger venues.
Here are a few to get you started.
The Old Field
A working farm, this vineyard will appeal to those seeking a rustic and unpretentious tasting experience. The tasting area is divided into two rooms: the first, at only about 225 square feet, used to be a chicken coop and also housed rabbit hutches. Don’t be concerned about feathers and fur as the cages have been converted to cubbyholes with wine-centric displays. A chessboard sits at the ready and the two-person bench and pair of chairs make for a minimalist, yet intimate vibe. The second room is only about 150 square feet. It features the tasting bar itself, a smattering of chairs and has a cast iron stove that, in the winter, provides a cozy warmth throughout. The Old Field, 59600 Main Road, Southold
The layout of the grounds is well planned with various seating options throughout and even though their outdoor area can accommodate groups of varying sizes, I wouldn’t roll in here like a rock star with an entourage. Everything is still very intimate and, dare I say, romantic. The tasting room itself, however, is perfectly tiny.
A long table with bench seating on one side serves as the tasting bar. A small couch with some love seats and chairs creates a relaxed and familiar atmosphere as if you’re sipping at a friend’s studio loft. A fig and blue cheese crostini paired excellently with their 2011 Old World Blend. Mattebella Vineyards, 46005 Main Road, Southold
One Woman Wines & Vineyard
A former tool shed repurposed as a tasting room creates a rustic, laid-back vibe. At 19’ x 10 ½’ it’s standing room only for devotees. Their Gewürztraminer and Grüner Veltliner are fantastic and have proved great partners to everything from a meat and cheese plate to a pastrami on rye from Erik’s in Southold, just up the road. One Woman Wines and Vineyard, 5195 Old North Road, Southold.
Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard
A smattering of picnic tables and chairs comprise the outdoor seating but a few stools and a couple of armchairs make up the tasting room proper. Groups larger than six require a special reservation ensuring that you shoulder up with others who appreciate a more personalized experience. Some light snacks are also available.
Their gold-winning Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are sure to please. Sannino’s Bella Vita Vineyard, 1375 Peconic Lane, Peconic.
Peconic Cellar Door
The new home of Robin Epperson-McCarthy (Saltbird Cellars) and Alie Shaper (As If Wines, Brooklyn Oenology), Peconic Cellar Door occupies the space that formerly housed Provisions and Ingredients (a specialty market offering things like squid ink pasta and custom panini sandwiches).
Custom tables allow for couples or a few groups of four or may be combined into one long table for a more communal tasting experience.
Bonus feature: Robin or Alie are usually on hand to talk wine. Well-trained and passionate servers are excellent. Speaking directly to the winemakers? Priceless. Peconic Cellar Door, 2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic.
Bonus BONUS feature: you can walk straight through a shared doorway to The Winemaker Studio right next door! Speaking of which…
The Winemaker Studio
Home to Anthony Nappa Wines, the first certified organic winery by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, The Winemaker Studio focuses on “small batch,” limited-production craft wine. The Bordo Antico is a personal favorite. They also serve two local craft beers on tap for friends who may not be wine-inclined. The Winemaker Studio, 2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic