by Roni Jenkins
If the South Fork is the party destination with 20-something hipsters invading Montauk and celebrity sighting galore in the Hamptons, the North Fork is the peaceful antidote to that. Wineries, lush farmland, quiet beaches and the North Fork’s, “unofficial” capital, Greenport, is the center of the action. The North Fork is geography defined as starting in Riverhead and ending at Orient Point (about 30 miles).
The North Fork is about two hours by car, or three hours via the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Greenport. The Hampton Jitney , an upscale bus service that stops in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, is another popular option, and stops in Greenport (and other NOFO towns) next to the Long Island Rail Road station. Uber’s are available, and you could also rent a bicycle as many of the wineries are within biking distance.
Late summer and Fall are a perfect time to visit as the farmstands will have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s prime time to enjoy sipping some wine on a patio while listening to live music, and if you’re lucky– the sunflower and lavender fields will be in bloom.
With so many wineries on the East End welcoming children and even pets, Long Island wine country has become a huge destination not just for couples and bachelorette parties, but for families and Tomatoes too.
I’ve been going out to the NOFO for about 25 years now- I’ve tried to round up a host of vineyards—many of which are family-owned and operated—places to stay, places to eat and other fun things to do while out there. Let’s start with the vineyards, but this is by no means a complete list.
MAKE SURE TO CALL AHEAD AND SEE WHAT THEIR COVID POLICIES ARE.
In addition to wine, most tasting rooms offer light snacks, nonalcoholic beverages, and some even serve craft beer or sangria. Some also allow outside food and drink in designated picnic areas. Be sure to check individual websites for specific rules and be responsible if driving- there are even services that allow you to hire a driver to drive your own car. There are about 30 wineries on the NOFO- I’m just going to list a few of my favorites and a look back at some past trips.
Harbes Family Farm – 715 Sound Ave, Mattituck NY (631)-298-WINE
A cross between a farm stand, a petting zoo, and a year-round county fair with a vineyard to boot! Get the cider donuts, have the kids run around, buy some sunflowers, enjoy some wine. Note—this place is packed on fall weekends, get there early. We made an impromptu stop during the 2017 trip and we loved it!
Palmer Vineyards -5120 Sound Ave Riverhead, NY (631) 722-9463
Founded in 1983, Palmer Vineyards is open all year long, seven days a week. They now have a permanent food truck on the weekends and has been on our wine trip a few times now, including in 2017. The staff is warm and welcoming, they are a sustainable vineyard and on Friday nights throughout the Fall harvest they have live music, oysters and sunset yoga and are open until 9 pm.
Paumanok Vineyards – 1074 Main Rd Aquebogue, NY (631) 722-8800
The spacious tasting room was built on top of the barrel cellar. It is surrounded by an inviting deck overlooking the vineyards and was 2015 Winery of the Year and several Wine Enthusiast 90+ point rated wines.
Jamesport Vineyards – 1216 Main Rd Jamesport, NY (631) 722-5256
Jamesport Vineyards is one of the North Fork’s oldest vineyards, founded in 1986. They offer a Jazz on the Vine event monthly. They don’t allow bus tours anymore, but we were lucky to visit in 2014 with our 3T tour. I’ve been there several times on my own, including the annual Wine Crush event featuring all NOFO wineries and several restaurants.
RGNY – 6025 Sound Ave Riverhead, NY (631) 298-0075
One of the most popular vineyards on the North Fork, they have something for everyone. Food trucks, music, animals, and various events like Paint and Sip and Stomp parties. We visited in 2011 with the 3T tour and had a great time.
Clovis Point Vineyard & Winery – 1935 NY-25 Laurel, NY 11948 (631) 722-4222
The tasting room is a renovated potato barn and we were lucky enough to have the 3T tour visit in 2012–I loved it so much, I’ve been back many times. Fun place with live music (even yoga in the vines on occasion) and their estate vineyard includes merlot and cabernet franc clones.
Castello di Borghese – 17150 County Rd 48 Cutchogue, NY (631) 734-5111
Castello di Borghese came from Long Island’s oldest vineyard, originating in 1973 by Alex and Louisa Hargrave. The Hargraves sold Hargrave Vineyard in 1998 to Ann Marie and Marco Borghese, who renamed the vineyard. They have a wonderful art gallery; an oyster truck and they’ve made it on our wine tour twice—2016 and 2010!
Pellegrini Vineyards  23005 Main Rd Cutchogue, NY (631) 734-4111
One of the most popular vineyards on the east end, there is a private tasting area with spectacular panoramic views of the courtyard which features a classic Italian cloister design. I was a wine club member here for 5 years before I even started planning our 3T trips– the wines are very good, and they’ve made it to our tour twice- 2012 and 2016.
McCall Wines  22600 NY-25 Cutchogue, NY (631) 734-5764
Cheryl and I recently visited this charming little vineyard in which the main building is an old potato barn that was also once used as a horse stable. They make Pinot Noir and Merlot following a French influenced model and also have a cattle ranch and sell grass-fed, organic beef. They were 2013 winery of the year and have several 90+ Wine Enthusiasts wines.
Bedell – 36225 NY-25 Cutchogue, NY 11935 (631) 734-7537
One of my favorite tasting rooms and one my favorite labels. Wine Enthusiast magazine named them as one of the “Top 25 tasting rooms in America” and their artists series label features commissioned works by world renowned contemporary artists. They are sustainably farmed, family owned and critically acclaimed since 1980—the Bedell Merlot was served at the 2013 Presidential inauguration, now that’s an endorsement! On the must-see list.
Pindar – 37645 NY-25 Peconic, NY (631) 734-6200
This is one of the original vineyards on Long Island established in the early 1980s. The founder, Dr. “Dan” Damianos helped create Long Island’s vibrant winemaking industry. Today, the vineyard is a family affair, and encompasses more than 500 scenic acres. They grow 17 varieties of grapes, crafting them into some 23 varietals and proprietary blends. They produce 70,000 cases of award-winning wine a year, making them the largest vineyard on Long Island. They were our first vineyard on our first wine trip back in 2009 (you always remember your first, right?) and made the list again in 2015.
Lenz – 38355 NY-25, Peconic, NY (631) 734-6010
I fell in love with this place 20 years ago when I went with a friend for a sit-down blind tasting. We tasted Lenz wine vs. some of the best from internationally renowned French producers. The bottles were covered in brown bags and we were told what each flight contained and was asked to rate and distinguish the wines. We really enjoyed the challenge and couldn’t distinguish Lenz wines from their more expensive counterparts. They still offer the blind tastings and it’s a lot of fun. Try the 2010 Old Vines Merlot which received a 94 rating by the Wine Advocate. We visited during our trip in 2017.
Raphael – 39390 NY-25 Peconic, NY (631) 765-1100
I always say if I ever get lost find me between rows 35 and 36 at Raphael. The design of the winery was inspired by the Italian monasteries and is beautiful both inside and out. It’s family run and the people running it couldn’t be nicer. I’ve been a wine club member for 5 years now and they offer the best wine membership perks: monthly barrel tastings for you and a guest and other fun events with no added fee (my boyfriend and I have harvested the grapes). Their underground barrel room is amazing and at Christmas time the inside decorations are beautiful. I love this place. Check the schedule as they are closed several Saturdays for private parties.
Corey Creek – 45470 NY-25, Southold, NY (631) 765-4168
Owned by Bedell, the Corey Creek tap room is a short drive down the road and has a totally different vibe. Wines on tap, a summer twilight music series (Tuesdays and Thursdays), food trucks and lawn games make this the laid-back fun little brother to the sophisticated older sibling Bedell. And yes, they serve Frosé, frozé, frozen rosé: whatever you want to call it-it’s all good.
Sparkling Pointe – 39750 County Rd 48 Southold, NY (631) 765-0200
Ready for some bubbly? Their sparkling wines are produced exclusively in the traditional Méthode Champenoise. The Tasting House is adorned with opulent crystal chandeliers, high ceilings, and plenty of natural light. In delightful contrast, bright Brazilian artwork and influence can be found throughout. It is one of the few wineries where you can enjoy table service both inside and out. They also have a great food pairing menu.
One Woman Wines & Vineyards – 5195 Old North Rd Southold, NY 11971 (631) 765-1200
Much of the vineyard was hand planted and each vine has been meticulously tended to by Claudia Purita—the woman behind One Woman. Claudia grew up in Calabria, Italy and makes the wine following her family’s tradition. Pat and I visited while she was out working hard tending to the vines. It’s small- no groups over 6, no buses, no limos.
Kontokosta Winery – 825 North Rd Greenport, NY (631) 477-6977
North Fork’s first and only waterfront tasting room and winery. Situated on sixty-two acres, the winery property boasts over a quarter-mile of Long Island Sound waterfront. Perched atop sweeping bluffs overlooking the region’s coastline powered by wind. Sunsets are amazing and make for a great postcard. Limousines, buses and vans are not permitted. No pets and outside food or beverage.
Roni Jenkins is a founding partner in The Three Tomatoes. She shares her social media and digital marketing savvy with the 3Ts. She is a Mom of three children, is actively involved in several non-profit organization, including UN Women and the National MS Society and loves to run in the mud. She is inspired by her Mom and other women who have paved the way for working moms like her to be able to balance work and life.