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A bird’s eye view of Cutchogue. (Credit: David Benthal)

The Long Island Wine Trail begins on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow and continues up Routes 48 and 25 to Greenport. Along the path, there are dozens of wineries, each with its own distinct features.

But the true beginning of Long Island Wine Country exists in Cutchogue, where the first vines were planted and 11 tasting rooms are open today. If there were a capital for Long Island wine, its flag would fly somewhere in the rows at Castello di Borghese, among the oldest vines in the region.

Cutchogue isn’t just home to the first winery — Hargrave Vineyard was founded in 1973 on the Borghese property — or the most tasting rooms, it’s also a hamlet where some of the area’s top producers grow, crush and bottle their wine.

The Hargraves’ son, Zander, has continued the family’s legacy at Pellegrini Vineyards, Bedell Cellars (pictured) has been noted for its “breathtaking views” and 

McCall Wines was named Winery of the Year at the 2013 New York Wine & Food Classic.

If you’re seeking a casual experience and live music, Lieb Cellars and Pugliese Vineyards are good choices, and Coffee Pot Cellars and Suhru Wines will stimulate your palates in boutique settings.

If you’re a wine lover, Cutchogue is an important stop on a trip to the North Fork, and the Sannino Vineyard Bed and Breakfast is a good choice for anchoring your stay. You can even spend an entire day without leaving the hamlet, by enjoying lunch at the Cutchogue Diner and dinner at Touch of Venice, which boast’s a wine list that’s perennially ranked at the top of the North Fork by Wine Spectator.

Of course, wineries aren’t the only reason to visit Cutchogue and like so much of the North Fork it features spectacular farm stands. 8 Hands Farm is a must-stop on any visit to the North Fork. The 28-acre sustainable farm is home to a flock of icelandic sheep, livestock and vegetable and herb gardens. Food and goods produced from what’s raised on the farm are available inside the store and a food truck on the property.

You can also get in touch with Long Island’s farming history with a stop at Wickham’s Fruit Farm, which has been in the Wickham Family since the end of the 17th century. More than 200 acres are dedicated to fruits and you can pick them yourself for a more complete experience. Be sure to also pick up some of their fresh baked goods, too.

Springtime is also a great time to get your own garden going with a stop at Trimble’s of Corchaug nursery, which prides itself on customer service and is a great place to find both indigenous and unique plantings,

Of course, Cutchogue’s finest feature might just be its nature. The region’s Native American history can be felt as you hike Downs Farm Preserve — the former Fort Corchaug property. And the bayfront real estate is a boater’s dream along a series of creeks that open up into the Peconics. 

As you sail away into the open waters, you’ll realize Cutchogue is a place you won’t soon forget.