Minutes from the Cross Sound Ferry terminal in Orient Point, Long Island sits one of the North Fork’s newest wineries, and it is an absolute gem. Kontokosta Winery was our first stop after our journey across the Long Island Sound. When we arrived, a blanket of gray was draped over the North Fork, but that just added a little something special to the experience as we pulled up to the rustic winery and tasting room.
We thought the vineyards and bran-like wooden exterior of Kontokosta were beautiful, and we did not at all expect what the interior would bring. Both of our mouths dropped open as we saw the lofty, modern, and chic interior of the tasting room. It offers a contrast from the outside for sure, but it is most beautiful in a different way. I can easily say that Kontokosta, owned by brothers Michael and Constantine Kontokosta, has one of the prettiest tasting rooms I have ever been to, and I have seen my fair share of tasting rooms in this life. It is also one of the most green. From their sustainable farming practices to reclaimed building materials to wind power, everything about this winery is geared toward being a steward of the environment. As such, it will be one of the few LEED gold-certified wineries in North America.
After a quick view of the tasting room, we met Polly Brown, the General Manager of the winery and all around interesting, kind, and wonderful person. We spent a couple of hours tasting and touring with Polly, and we both could have spent the rest of the day there.
As Polly shared with us the history of the winery and information on the building, we got down to tasting wine. Almost all of Kontokosta’s fruit is grown on the estate, with the exception of their Orient Chardonnay.
I was talking and listening and enjoying our conversation so much that I didn’t want to look at my phone to take notes. However, these wines are just unforgettable. There was not one that was not beautiful, elegant, and expressing the unique terroir of the North Fork. The label on Kontokosta’s bottles says it all.
We tasted through the above list, and we came out with quite a few favorites.
Kontokosta Anemometer is a white table wine, a nod to the wind instrument on the property. This wine is for everyday drinking with friends, super refreshing and summery, with citrus notes and nice acidity, this wine would pair perfectly with seafood and produce from the seas and land around the winery.
You know I love my Viognier, and I was incredibly excited when it was time to taste this wine. This Viognier is lighter than some of the California and Virginia Viogniers I have enjoyed, but it is lovely nonetheless. It has those classic apricot/peach notes only with a much lighter, crisper texture than Viognier tends to have. This would be a perfect Viognier on a really warm day because it is still very refreshing.
We expected to enjoy the white wines, but the reds were what got us really hooked. I always think that cooler climates result in not-so-great red wine, but this is simply not the case with the North Fork. Cabernet Franc, one of my favorite grapes, grows unbelievably well on Long Island, and Kontokosta brings it to the bottle in an exceptional way. That spice that is so characteristic of Cabernet Franc gets you right away. I love spice in my food, and I love it in my wine. It complements dark fruit and earth in this wine, and it is simply delicious.
In addition to the Cabernet Franc, we really enjoyed the Blum Merlot, which is named after Ray Blum, who planted the vineyards and has since passed away. This wine was silky smooth with notes of cocoa and spice and luscious fruit, everything that is right with a good Merlot.
The Cabernet Sauvignon on the North Fork surprised and delighted us in general. It’s softer and easier than its often tannic California cousin, and it’s a much easier drinking wine which would go with a wider range of foods.
After our tasting, we made our selections for wine to bring home, and while Polly got that together, we discovered another feature of Kontokosta not to be missed, their sprawling lawn that leads down to the sea.
Even on a cloudy day with a bit of drizzle, the scenery was breathtaking.
There is no doubt that we need to return in the summer to experience this beautiful spot on a sunny day.
The final treat of our visit to Kontokosta was going downstairs to see where the wine is made and stored. We met Ron, who is, as Polly described, a wizard, working in the tank room. Ron made some of the beautiful furniture in the winery, assists with the winemaking, and is just an all around delight. We actually ran into him doing some work the next day at the Harbor Front Inn, a property owned by the Kontokostas and where we spent our night in Greenport. He remembered us and gave us a warm welcome once again.
While at the winery, Ron let us taste some wine that was hanging out in tanks, waiting to go into barrels. The wine was unfinished, but as always with tasting before wine is bottled, it is so fun to se where it starts and how it changes along the way. The Cab Franc we tasted was delicious, yet lacked some of the roundness and richness that the barrel will bring to it.
It doesn’t get any better than touring and tasting with people who know a winery so well and obviously love it. Our afternoon at Kontokosta was an experience we will certainly never forget; we have several bottles of their wine to enjoy at home as we continue to reflect on our visit and start to plan a new one!
Many thanks to Polly and Ron and the whole Kontokosta team for hosting us!