Wine Tasting in Long Island

This weekend’s day trip took us a little further afield than our New England Day trips do. Though it sort of felt like the best of a few worlds, New England and Sonoma, the North Fork of Long Island was a gem all its own, just about three hours from Boston.

We left Boston at 8:00 am and made it to New London, CT, way in advance of our 11:00 ferry to Orient Point, NY. Next time, I would just leave a little earlier and book the 10:00 ferry instead of having to wait at the dock. There’s not much to do. Once you’re aboard the car ferry though, you can relax inside or outside, taking in some TV or the way better option, blue water and beautiful islands.

ferry to Long Island

Once in Orient Point, we drove off of the ferry and started exploring. First stop, obviously Sparkling Pointe, award-winning producer of all things bubbly, and only bubbly.

wine grapes, Long Island

Sparkling Pointe offers a few options for tasting, outside a large patio and sitting areas right next to the vineyard.

Sparkling Pointe tasting room

Inside offers a swankier experience with crystal chandeliers, art, and lots of white. We did our tasting outside.

Sparkling Pointe tasting room

Sparkling Pointe tasting room

We tasted through the NV Brut, the 2009 Topaz Imperial, the 2007 Blanc de Blancs, the 2002 Brut Seduction, the 2009 Cuvee Carnaval, and the beautiful 2008 Blanc de Noir. Our visit to Sparkling Pointe was only my second time tasting Long Island wine (the first was at Bin 26, I fell in love with Channing Daughters, from the South Fork of LI), and I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. Not that I was expecting the wine to not be good, but the East Coast doesn’t always get the credit it is due when it comes to wine. These wines could definitely change some of that!

My favorites were our first and last, the NV Brut which was super acidic with green apple and lemon flavors, perfect to cut through a humid day, and the Blanc de Noir, which had toasty notes I love, along with lots of berry flavor. Gorgeous. I could have stayed at Sparkling Pointe all day.

Sparkling Pointe NV Brut

Our itinerary was quite full though, so after a quick stop for provisions at The Village Cheese Shop, we made our way to a winery that came highly recommended from several people, Shinn Estate Vineyards. One of the reasons I wanted to come to Long Island was to taste wines made with Cabernet Franc, a grape that grows well there. Shinn, with its cozy, rustic tasting room, won me over with its dry rosé, a blend of Merlot and Cab Franc. This wine offers bold strawberry flavors without any sweetness. I love Shinn’s description:

Take a bottle of this wine in one hand, a lobster roll in the other and head straight to the beach!

Shinn Vineyards

We also tasted through Shinn’s Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Coalescence, all a little too sweet for how I was feeling. I think it was just the heat; I’d love to taste these again on a cooler day.

Shinn Vineyards

The other standout for us was Shinn’s Bordeaux blend, Wild Boar Doe. This wine is super peppery, another bold choice, and sitting in our wine fridge for a cool fall Sunday. I am thinking BBQ pulled pork sliders. wine tasting on Long Island

After Shinn, we made a visit to Harbes Family Farm and Vineyards, a place that deserves its own post just because it had so many different things to offer. Stay tuned!

Our final wine tasting stop of the day was at Croteaux Vineyards. My party ended up going to see an open house we passed, so I went in and tasted alone. I was excited to visit Croteaux because they make only rosés, 12 in total. I sat at a little tasting bar in the back garden and had a great time chatting to Nick, who poured my wine and shared some great information with me.

Croteaux Vineyards

Croteaux Vineyards

I tasted three different rosés, all Merlot, the 181 Rosé, 314 Rosé, and 3 Rosé, all named for the Merlot clone they come from. My obsession with the sea and summer meant that the 181, or summer in a glass, as Nick called it, my favorite. This wine has a slight bit of brininess to it, a kiss of salt on the finish. Since I had awhile to wait for everyone to return, I decided on a glass of Cuvée Sparkle and a wander around the tasting gardens.

Croteaux Vineyards

 

Croteaux Vineyards croteaux rose

Lots of trees, flowers, quaint tables, and Adirondack chairs make this outdoor tasting space a delight, and really relaxed as I sipped my bubbly.

Croteaux Vineyards

 

Croteaux Vineyards

Unfortunately, the end of my experience at Croteaux left a bad taste in my mouth. First, they did not want to let my husband and his sister in to find me. Then, when I was checking out and buying wine, the woman at the counter hastily said that only the payer could stay inside and everyone else could wait outside, basically kicking him out. The store/checkout area at Croteaux is tiny, but my husband was looking at the wines for sale and potentially would have picked up a few bottles based on my recommendation. The attitude was very much, “give us your money and get out”, which is unfortunate because up until then things had been so nice.  Croteaux should either invest in a larger checkout area or learn to more graciously ask people to step outside.

Overall, while we really enjoyed the stops we made, other than Nick at Croteaux, we didn’t really encounter anyone who was super friendly or interested in the wines they were  pouring. I shouldn’t compare to Napa and Sonoma, but as most of my wine tasting has been done there, I couldn’t help it. My sister-in-law suggested that many of the staff at the Long Island wineries might be seasonal, as opposed to year-round professionals in the Napa and Sonoma tasting rooms, a possibility and explanation for the quick pour and walk away that we experienced.

The winery clientele definitely had a little bit of NYC attitude. The North Fork was lovely , but you couldn’t help feel that bit of the city rushed coldness with the way people drove, didn’t hold doors, talked really loudly like they knew the most about wine ever, etc. (I’m obviously not saying everyone in New York is like this, just observing that there was a definite  hasty way about many of the people.) I’d definitely go back; there are dozens of wineries we missed and lots of great restaurants and inns to check out. Plus, I need to visit Channing Daughters!

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

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Tags: Long Island, rose wine, Tasting Room, Travel, vineyards, wine, wine country, wine tasting, wine travel

  1. Erica @ In and Around Town’s avatar

    I have done a tour of some LI vineyards for a friends 30th and it kind of felt like Jersey Shore goes wine tasting. The rooms were packed and people just were chugging the wine. Looks like the vineyards you went to were a bit nicer, but I would hesitate before going back. Can’t wait for my first Napa trip ;)

    Reply

  2. Samantha’s avatar

    I’m so glad you reviewed these! I’m from the South Fork but have never made it to any of the North Fork wineries because I’m always racing to the Shelter Island ferry from Orient Point. Bums about the attitude, but not totally surprising. It’s a beautiful area, but there are a lot of arses out there. Not sure if it would make a huge difference, but I highly recommend going during the shoulder season – late Sept thru early November, and April thru June. I try to avoid in July & August.

    Two things to add to your list if you go again: Greenport Harbor Brewery is really fun for tastings and a neat addition to the winery scene, and while the attitude will probably be even worse, I do recommend popping across to the South Fork to see Sag Harbor, Montauk, and the Hamptons :)

    Reply

    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      Thanks for your comment! You are probably right about the time of year; there were about 500 limos! We definitely want to return. I was with non-beer drinkers so had to miss the Greenport Harbor Brewery, so that’s on the list for next time. And we definitely want to go to The Hamptons; it was just a little pricey. I’ll be keeping an eye out for shoulder season deals. :)

      Reply

    2. Lindsey @ BeantownEats’s avatar

      Too bad about your experience, but that would definitely put a bad taste in my mouth too. It will be very hard for me to ever go back to the Spring Wine Fest that the Cyclorama puts on after our experience there a few years ago.
      We had a very relaxing stay-at-home kind of weekend, which both of us really needed I think :)

      Reply

    3. Daisy’s avatar

      there really is just no need for people to be acting that rude, my goodness!
      but everywhere you went looks so beautiful and glad you got to try some interesting wines.

      Reply

    4. Kelly’s avatar

      I’m so glad you did this post because I had been thinking recently about doing a short trip done to Long Island, just because I’ve never been there and I figured the New London ferry would definitely be the way to go. I didn’t even realize how many wineries were down there but that just makes me want to go more. I’m actually surprised that people weren’t particularly nice or into their wines- I’ve wine tasted in CA, but also in Niagara, Vermont, and RI/MA and at almost ALL of the wineries people have been really welcoming and into their own wine. I wonder if it would matter if it was a less busy time of the year? Who knows I guess!

      Reply

    5. Megan’s avatar

      That definitely sounds like a great way to spend a weekend. We laid low this weekend… things are about to get crazy busy around here!

      Reply

    6. Eric King’s avatar

      your photos are great – pity about the limos – I am sure on a quieter day the atmosphere would have been more relaxing :)

      Reply

    7. Elizabeth’s avatar

      This looks like such an awesome day! As much time as I’ve spent on long island, I don’t think I’ve ever been out as far as the forks. It sounds lovely.

      Reply

    8. Elizabeth’s avatar

      This looks like such an awesome day! As much time as I’ve spent on long island, I don’t think I’ve ever been out as far as the forks. It sounds lovely but biiig shame about the ‘tude. I hate when people exemplify that stereotype, lots of us are nice!

      Reply

      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        I think you would absolutely love it out there!

        Reply

      2. Raija’s avatar

        Such a bummer that you didn’t encounter a more serene scene. I can imagine all the ways it is different from the West Coast. Maybe they will learn something from helpful observations like yours.

        Reply

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