When it comes to high quality wine, there are a handful of places in the world that are synonymous with excellence. Napa Valley, Burgundy, Tuscany – there are some wine producing regions you just don’t question. They’ve earned their reputation with decades of impeccable sowing, growing, picking and juicing. It’s the way things work in the fine wine industry; time equals esteem. It means younger growing regions wait a long time for recognition even if their wines are impressive from the outset. Many stay ‘hidden gems’ for years, praised by intrepid vino adventurers in small, intimate circles. One such region is Long Island. Yes, you heard that right. Long Island (New York’s Long Island) is home to one of the most exciting wine growing movements in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at five of the best Long Island wineries and find out why this unlikely spot should be your next tour stop.
Shinn Estate Vineyards, Mattituck
The family owned Shinn Estate Vineyards, in Mattituck, is everything you might expect from a rustic and rural winery in Tuscany – except for the fact it’s in New York. The location itself feels remarkably calm and peaceful. It’s hard to believe you’re so close to the Big Apple. It’s a small vineyard but it has a lot to offer. The wine tasting menu is extensive, with a large variety of reds, whites, roses and even grappas and brandies. The staff are wonderfully amiable and will spare nothing to ensure guests feel at home in the cozy farmhouse and B&B. If you prefer to enjoy your in a tranquil setting, we can’t think of anywhere better.
Kontokosta Winery, Greenport
The Kontokosta Winery is a little more dramatic. For a start, there’s the view. Wine tours and tastings here come with unbelievable views of the Long Island Sound. It really is a spectacular place to just sit and take in the majesty of New York. And the wines aren’t bad either. If the weather is pleasant, guests are encouraged to sip and taste in the outdoor seating area. Enjoy a Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc by the Sound, complete with VIP service and waterfront view. Stretched over 62 acres, Kontokosta is bright, beautiful and light hearted – expect high level service without snootiness.
Sparkling Pointe, Southold
Sometimes, wine tasting isn’t about peaceful vineyards and rustic charm. Sometimes, it’s about glamour and getting dressed up. When you’re itching for the latter, get yourself down to Sparkling Pointe in Southold. With crystal chandeliers, vaulted ceilings and fascinating artworks throughout, it feels like being invited to somebody’s mansion. As you may have guessed, Sparkling Pointe specializes in sparkling wines. So, if the fizzy stuff isn’t for you, give this one a miss. Champagne and prosecco fans rejoice, however, because an array of fizzy featured wines can be paired with caviar, cheeses, meats and chocolates. It’s also very welcoming to larger tasting and tour groups.
Lieb Cellars, Cutchogue
Cutchogue isn’t often associated with fine wines but it’s only because the wonderful Lieb Cellars isn’t as famous as it deserves to be. This vineyard is full of charm and friendly vibes, with a team of silver tongued waiters, plenty of cozy couches and regular live performances from local musicians. The wine menu may be smaller – this is a dainty vineyard – but its estate grown reserves are really something special. What we love most about this place is it offers a little bit of everything. Yes, it’s quaint and quiet. But it’s not your average ‘sip and sit’ vineyard. Expect music, plenty of informational chat about the growing process, unpretentious décor and variety of chill out areas. This one’s a winner.
Sherwood House Vineyards, Jamesport
Sherwood House is a wonderful place to spend a balmy, sunny afternoon in late summer or early fall. When the weather is pleasant, the beauty of this vineyard is only matched by the ambiance inside. You’ll also find some of Long Island’s most highly regarded wines here. We recommend the spectacular Cabernet Franc if you’re a fan of reds. Sherwood’s is located inside a renovated farmhouse from the 1870s. And it’s as picturesque as it sounds. The tasting room is regularly referenced as one of the loveliest in Long Island – and we know it’s got a lot of competition – so it’s worth a road trip if you don’t live in or just outside Jamesport. Sit by the fireplace, sip on a Merlot and marvel at the splendor of being able to do it in Long Island of all places.