Macari Vineyards has reinvented its Cutchogue tasting room, transforming it into a space where you can find experimental wines and a relaxed, unhurried tasting experience on your next trek along the wine trail.
In the heart of wine country along Main Road in Cutchogue, Meadowlark North Fork has sweeping views of vineyards and preserved farmland and is a picturesque spot that melds both past and present.
The reimagining was spearheaded by Gabriella Macari, general manager and daughter of Joe Macari Jr., who founded the Mattituck vineyard at a former potato farm with his wife Alexandra and dad, Joe Sr. in 1995.
“We realized we have to create a unique space,” Macari said of the Cutchogue location, which for more than a decade had served as an extension of the Bergen Road tasting room in Mattituck.
Vines on the Cutchogue property were originally planted on 30 acres by Jerry Gristina of the former Gristina Vineyards in 1983. According to Wine Spectator, the property and adjoining land was purchased by Galluccio Family Wineries for $5.5 million in 2000, which at the time was the highest sum paid for a Long Island winery.
The Macari family purchased the property from Galluccio Family Wineries for $2.4 million in 2007.
Gabriella Macari said the new name and brand is driven by the winemaking, led by winemaker Byron Elmendorf, who joined the winery in the fall of 2020. “We are doing a ton of experimentation in the cellar, focusing on new techniques and embracing the vintage variation,” she said, explaining that those wines will be showcased in the new space.
Cosmetic upgrades were made throughout both buildings on the property. The tasting room space is now a sunny, modern wine bar that accentuates the copper bar and fireplace. A second building on site will be used for private events, get-togethers and activities like yoga and painting.
Each space has a modern, minimalist farmhouse look with Scandinavian influences throughout.
While both interiors have been upgraded, the focus at Meadowlark is to revel in the natural beauty outdoors, in tune with Macari’s overarching mission toward sustainability.
One experience the new space will focus on is curated picnics on the expansive lawn. You can opt to purchase a picnic blanket or bring your own to enjoy a glass or bottle of wine with a bushel of picnic items that include chips, salad, a sandwich and dessert from Lombardi’s Love Lane Market.
Guests are also encouraged to wander through a native wildflower garden planted with pollinators in mind and look for birds including Carolina wren and rare sparrow species. According to Macari, the name for the new space was inspired by her cousin, who is an ornithologist. Meadowlarks typically symbolize abundance and impending harvest.
Macari said she’s excited that newer wines and techniques, which can bring out different flavors — like whole cluster inclusion, carbonic fermentation and skin contact — will find a home in the new space. The classics, she said, can still be found at Mattituck.
Currently, Meadowlark offers a selection of six wines by the glass or bottle that include rosé, sparkling wine, sauvignon blanc that aged for six months on its skins, a carbonic pinot noir served chilled, malbec and a chardonnay sourced from a single vineyard block. “There’s a benefit to figuring out the quality of a specific vineyard site,” Macari said, adding that the chardonnay unveils information on soil and clone; in other words the diversity of their own vineyard.
A selection of limited production and library wines, like a viognier only made in standout fruit years, and a red blend from 2010, are also available by the bottle.
“We’ve been checking in on [library wines] and we’re ready to release them in small batches,” Macari said. “The goal there is to provide that high quality Long Island wines can age.”
Though “funkier” wines and selections from Macari’s library will excite wine enthusiasts, Macari, a certified sommelier, wants the experience to be informative, fun and accessible even for those who aren’t well-versed in wine.
She’s exploring the idea of offering a QR code that will take guests to a series of videos explaining the story behind each wine along with a glossary of wine terms she wrote so people can access it even while outside on the lawn. “We want wine to be approachable,” she said. “We want this to be a really fun experience.”
Meadowlark is located at 24385 Main Road in Cutchogue and is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Reservations are highly encouraged and can be made at meadowlarknorthfork.com.