Love views of the vines, but hate the cold?
The newest trend allowing food-and-wine lovers to embrace the cold weather is outdoor pop-up igloos — homey, heated domes that allow you to enjoy the beauty of winter days without being outside.
In late November, Mattebella Vineyards in Southold set up three of these toasty dwellings for outdoor wine tastings outside their tasting room even on frigid days.
“Mattebella is primarily an outdoor venue, that’s why people come here,” co-owner Christine Tobin said. “In the really cold months, it just makes it a little bit difficult, obviously, even with firepits and a blanket. But the igloos are really warm, so you still get to have the Mattebella experience of being outdoors because the igloos are clear. But you’re really toasty inside. I mean, people take off their coats in there.”
The living-room-like igloos can fit 8 to 10 people, according to Tobin. Tables are inside the domes and cozy couch seating runs around the entire space. Blankets are kept inside as well for ultimate comfiness. Guests are encouraged to make reservations for private wine tastings or parties, Tobin said, but the igloos are available for use during regular visits if not reserved.
“At Mattebella we’re very much immersed in the vineyard,” Tobin said. “The experience people come for is to be part of the vineyard, and so this vehicle allows us to continue that through all seasons.”
Mattebella Vineyards will keep the igloos up through the winter season, so there’s still time to get snug and enjoy North Fork wine among the vines while avoiding the frostiness. From January through March the vineyard is open Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weather permitting, the vineyard remains open until sunset for Fireside Fridays.
Other places on the North Fork offering the cozy outside experience include the popular Little Lucharitos in Aquebogue. The taqueria has set up its own heated igloo outside the restaurant, offering first-come, first-served table service for up to five people until spring.
The high-end Greenport boutique hotel The Menhaden also has one of the igloos advertised on its Facebook page, placed perfectly under the stars on its rooftop lounge and available for small groups, dinner dates and even bachelorette parties. Contact the hotel for details.