LONG ISLANd Notes
Visited Long Island in August of 2023, the year which incidentally marks the 50th anniversary of commercial wine-making there. Long Island is made up up 3 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas); the Long Island AVA (entire region), and within that, the North Fork AVA and the South Fork AVA (aka The Hamptons). With just one-day and night to visit, we focused on the North Fork area, which is where it all began and has higher concentration of wineries than the South Fork.
Known primarily for sparkling wines, this small third generation family-owned winery allows you to create your own 4-wine flights, or simply try a glass or bottle. While not fancy, they have a homey tasting room, but I recommend doing your wining outside under their vine-canopied area near the fountained-pond or on the picnic tables near their vineyards. We tried a flight starting with a Blanc de Blancs sparkler with light, crisp notes of apple, citrus and honey blossom. Next a sparking Merlot with light, bubbling notes of red fruit and violet. The Bella Marina was a 50/50 blend of Merlot and the American native grape Niagara. it was a rust-like color and featured honey and marmalade notes and a nice mouthfeel on the finish. Our final taste, the Sunset Meritage was a bit tighter than expected and didn’t wow. All and all, nice little spot for picnic in between other visits, with some light and easy bubbles.
Bedell really helped Long Island up its wine profile when Barack Obama featured their 2009 Merlot at his second inaugural luncheon. Although the weather was a bit drizzly when we pulled-in, we really enjoyed our stop here, sheltered on their spacious covered deck which overlooks their beautiful property and vineyards. You can also head inside to the stylish, art-filled tasting bar which was closed at the time we stopped by (a Wednesday morning). The winery sits in Cutchogue and has been owned since 2002 by film producer Michael Lynne (Lord of the Rings) and his wife, Ninah. While best known for their Merlot and Cabernet Franc (both of which we tasted), we settled on a glass of the surprisingly fuller-bodied, easy-drinking Syrah which was full of black fruit notes, black pepper and firm but ripe tannins. This was definitely among our favorite stops for wine and atmosphere.
Lenz boasts some of the oldest vines on Long Island and one of the North Fork’s top reputations, with an array of wines ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon to sparkling. They have a sprawling outside courtyard-like tasting area nestled between their rustic indoor tasting room and a few other property buildings. This would be a great spot to visit if you are traveling in a larger group and want to spread out a bit (check-out my “Sip Clips” page for a video walk through). We grabbed some truffle cheddar cheese and crackers to accompany our flight of wines ranging from a very crisp, dry 100% Pinot Noir Cuvee sparkler, a light floral Chardonnay, an interesting Alsace-style Gewurztraminer, and finally a unique, cool-fermented Cabernet Sauvignon which featured tart, bright red fruit notes of cherry and cranberry. A nice cab for a hot day! We really liked the grounds layout and enjoyed the wines.
As we settled-up our tab at Lenz, our super-friendly hostess recommended we make a stop up the road at Lieb and we obliged. Although Lieb and Lenz share no relation, they do share excellent reputations and nice settings to enjoy their tasty wines. Lieb actually has two locations, we choose the relaxed, Cutchogie location with a comfy porch overlooking beautiful vineyards and a stylishly rustic tasting room. The skies had brightened to brilliant blue by the time we arrived so we settled down a cushioned-couch on the deck for a flight of 4 reds that turned out to be our favorite wines of the trip. Like most of the reds we tasted, their wines were medium-bodied. The merlot and cab franc were both pleasant and well-balanced. The Estate Meritage blend was the most full-bodied, with notes of licorice and grippy tannins. Our favorite was made from a grape native to Italy that you rarely run across anywhere– Teroldego. It featured intense notes of blackberry, grilled black plum, and a licorice note on the nice finish. A really fantastic stop!
Our last stop was Duck Walk’s location in Southold (they have a location in the Hamptons too). We were greeted very warmly by a gracious hostess who gave us a list to choose wine for our flights. To be honest, their very large tasting room seemed in need of a little bit of make-over – it just looked a a bit worn so we asked to be seated outside by the vineyards. We did a a sparkler, a white and a red, pretty standard fare. The most interesting taste was their Blueberry Port which they served with a piece of chocolate. As a port fan, I enjoyed the twist and imagined this might really be fun mixed with some club soda on the rocks, garnished with an orange slice on a hot day. That said, Duck Walk was probably one we would pass on next time.
All and all, we had a fantastic time. We tasted some nice wines at some beautiful and interesting wineries. As Long Island has a maritime climate, overall the wines tend to be be lighter-bodied, more acidic and a bit less fruit-forward than California and other warmer new world regions. There were plenty of tasty wines to try and beautiful spots to try them! And we found the tasting options extremely affordable compared to the left coast. We spent the night in Greenport, a funky, artsy little town with great restaurants right on the water. The North Fork is an easy 3-hour trip from Boston (concluding with a ferry ride from New London CT to Orient Point - which marks the beginning of wine country.) We will DEFINITELY be back. Cheers!
NOTE: Visit the "Sip Clips" page for video highlights of the trip.