About a two hour drive from the bright lights and fast pace of New York City, straight down to the tail fins of the Long Island “fish,” beautiful wine country awaits. With sprawling miles of vineyards and dozens of wineries both large and small, Long Island’s East End produces some of the top-rated wines in the nation. It’s a little known fact to much of the country, and even something a few locals have yet to discover.
A journey out to the Long Island wineries is an excellent way to spend a weekend staycation or day trip in New York. The wine trail is vast and every winery has something special and unique to offer, from award-winning bottles to picnic areas. Most have tasting rooms and tours, and many also offer live music and special events on the weekends.
When you’re going on a trip, sometimes the best thing to do is to follow your stomach. In recent years, food tourism has become more and more popular.
The geography, soil, and maritime climate of Long Island’s North and South Forks afford ideal conditions for growing an array of grapes that yield quality varietals and blends. Like Long Island itself, the wines are often underestimated, but with time and an expanding collection of awards and critical acclaim, the emerging region is proving to be a contender in the wine industry and an increasingly popular travel destination.
The following Long Island wineries boast especially great views. With panoramic vineyard overlooks akin what you might imagine seeing in Napa Valley or Tuscany, these locations provide some of the best settings to enjoy the wine country.
Utilizing sustainable biodynamic farming methods, Macari not only stands out for its exceptional wine but for its dedication to the land that yields it. A leader in natural viticulture on Long Island, the Macari family and their team cultivate an ideal grape growing environment through practices such as composting and using little to no pesticides on their vineyard. The difference is one you can taste.
Macari wines have received many medals, awards, and honors. Their crisp “Katherine’s Field” Sauvignon Blanc, named for one of the owners, and Bergen Road Merlot blend are among the top recommendations.
Relaxing above the vines with a flight of tastings on the Macari tasting room deck in Mattituck is one of the best ways to spend a summer day. Say hello to the horses, donkeys, goats and other animals while you are there. There is also a smaller Macari tasting room in Cutchogue.
5120 Sound Avenue, Route 48, Riverhead
On the trail to some of the larger Long Island wineries, you will find a modest little house marked “Palmer Vineyards,” inviting you in for a taste. Palmer wines are distinctly Long Island. From the sustainable farming used to harvest the grapes, to the methods practiced in their state-of-the-art winemaking facility, the Palmer team works hard to preserve the unique qualities of the region’s terroir in every bottle.
The charming pub-style tasting room has standing tables and cozy booths, perfect for sharing a cheese plate and a flight of tastings. Out back, guests can lounge with wine glasses on Adirondack chairs overlooking some of the more than 90 acres of Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc grapes growing on the property.
A short self-guided tour that leads into the tasting room explains Palmer’s winemaking process while giving guests a glimpse at the French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks where the wines are fermenting and aging.
23005 Route 25, Cutchogue
Pelligrini Vineyards is home to some of the most celebrated wines on Long Island; their highly-acclaimed Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are considered to be among the best produced in the area.
Their secret begins in the vineyard, where they take full advantage of the seaside breezes, soil conditions, and optimal sunshine of their North Fork location, which happens to be very much like Bordeaux, France. The process continues using both modern fermentation methods and classic oak barrel aging in their cellar, all with as little manipulation as possible.
Founded by graphic designer Robert Pelligrini and his wife, aesthetics have always been at the forefront of Pelligrini Vineyards. It is no wonder that it is one of the most beautiful Long Island wineries, both inside and out. Take in the view of the vineyard from the rustically elegant tasting room or courtyard.
Raphael Vineyard & Winery
39390 Main Road, Route 25, Peconic
Raphael’s commitment to quality and detail are evident from the moment you pull up to the estate. The pristine grounds and Tuscan villa-style tasting room make a grand first impression and the wines and hospitality leave a lasting one.
Family-owned and operated since 1996, Raphael combines decades of new world experience with old world traditions to make their wines. Their dedication to the details, such as being one of the few remaining Long Island wineries to harvest their grapes by hand, has allowed them to produce stand out vintages over the years, especially red varieties.
Guests are treated to expansive views of the grapevines from the upper and lower outdoor patios, or the tasting room where there is often live music to sing along to. If you’re looking to get away, even if only in your mind, Raphael will take you to Europe for the moment. Feel free you bring your own picnic.
What are your favorite Long Island wineries? Tell us in the comments.