With its idyllic setting between a lush canopy of grapes and the Long Island Sound, boutique Kontokosta Winery, which makes up to 4,000 cases per year, including an orangey-pink rosé full of strawberries, is the kind of place that’s transforming the perception of Long Island wine country. Once vilified, the region — with more than 40 thriving wineries — has benefited from 30 years of experience and winemakers who increasingly focus on grapes that grow well in this moderate climate.
Lenz Winery, established in 1978, has farm-roots appeal. Behind the tasting room, housed in a converted barn, winemaker Eric Fry can regularly be found clad in bib overalls, waxing on about his old vines project and pouring his bone-dry Gewürztraminer. Less than a mile south, in a historic barn so modernized it features a contemporary-art collection, is Bedell Cellars, one of the North Fork’s most renowned wineries. As winemaker Richard Olsen-Harbich explains, Bedell is “all about making sincere, transparent wines.” Translation? They farm sustainably and focus on making wine right for the region, embracing low- to moderate-alcohol wines that are high in acid, such as the Taste White blend.
Near farm stands promising pies, pansies, and Long Island duck is family-owned-and-operated Paumanok, making the island’s only Chenin Blanc. From here, cross over to the north side to find Palmer Vineyards, whose proprietors started with Chardonnay in the early ’80s. Today, the winery has a heavy focus on aromatic whites. Don’t miss the Albariño; Palmer is one of only two New York wineries producing the classically Spanish varietal.
Three miles up the road, couples and groups spill out of the tasting room at Macari Vineyards and dot a deck facing the vines. The winery recently opened a beautiful downstairs cellar for tastings, classes, and events. Upstairs they’re pouring a comparative tasting of two sauvignon blancs: Katherine’s Field, aged in stainless steel, and Lifeforce, aged in concrete eggs. It’s a fun experiment in how different vessels affect a wine.
And then, of course, there are the bubbles. While many North Fork houses make them, only Sparkling Pointe is focused exclusively on sparkling wines, and the tasting room regularly overflows with groups settled in to drink brut and watch the sun dapple the grapes.
EAT: At the far northeast end of the island, Greenport has the area’s best restaurant scene. For seafood — steamed Chatham mussels, citrusy crudo, and pan-roasted local catch — visit Noah’s on Front Street, where curiously compelling prints of sea creatures dress the walls. Or try The Frisky Oyster, where cocktails set the stage for dishes like asparagus soup with truffle foam, charred baby octopus, and Long Island duck. Then, end the night down a steep flight of stairs at Brix & Rye, where bartenders mix up exceptional craft cocktails.
SLEEP: The Harborfront Inn at Greenport is polished yet welcoming with 35 spacious rooms overlooking the bobbing masts of Mitchell Park marina. From $329/night