If you're looking for an escape from the concrete jungle this weekend that involves a bit of vino, forget heading west and redirect your compass to Long Island, home to some of the fastest up-and-coming vineyards. We've been to North Fork and back in search of the best summer wines, and here is our quick guide to the wineries not to miss.
Although they may be newcomers to the Long Island wine scene after planting their first vine in 2000, the husband and wife team David Page and Barbara Shinn have made quite a splash with their organic and biodynamic wines. With their philosophy of sustainable farming practices that includes hand-harvested grapes, this duo continues to produce a variety of 13 different consistently balanced wines. Not to be missed: Their 2009 First Fruit is a 100% Sauvignon Blanc with hints of ripe pear and fresh herbs. And don’t leave without trying the 2006 Nine Barrel Reserve Merlot—think elegant flavors of blackberries, plums and violet.
Founded in 1978, this vineyard houses some of Long Island’s most mature vines. From individual leaf removal to meticulous pest control, the winemakers here take every measure to ensure that they produce fully ripe grapes of the highest quality. They are so confident in the quality of the wines that they even hold blind tastings against legendary French producers such as Château Pétrus. See for yourself! Not to be missed: For summer celebrations, try the 2004 Cuvée, which is produced using traditional French Champagne methods and has crisp flavors of green apple and white cherry. Their 2006 Gerwürztraiminer has notes of bright pineapple and soft undertones of ginger.
This family-owned vineyard has been producing an impressive variety of wines since 1989 and is still going strong today, making wines they describe as “Old World.” Situated in a picturesque barn-turned-winery is a tasting room adjoined to a scenic deck where visitors can sample Paumanok’s array of vintage wines. Not to be missed: Their famed 2007 Chenin Blanc is crisp and dry, accented with refreshing flavors of grapefruit, melon and guava. The 2009 Dry Rosé is light and summery with subtle aromas of strawberries.
Other than growing ten different varietals, this North Fork winery is also a paradise for foodies-- they offer cheeses and cured meats along with wine tastings, and even have a raw bar on weekends that showcases local oysters and clams. Currently training a third generation of family winemakers, the Goerler family uses sustainable winemaking techniques and has even partnered with the Southold Project in Aquaculture Training, which teaches residents how to raise their own shellfish in the East End bays. Not to be missed: Their 2007 East End Cinq is a complex blend that captures ripe flavors of cassis and fig, while the 2003 Merlot Estate has rich scents of spices, dark chocolate and tobacco.
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