It’s January. The East End appears to be mired in a relative standstill. Restaurants have closed. Everyone has abandoned ship. What’s an eager East End denizen to do for entertainment?As it turns out, not every Eastern Long Island haunt shuts down for the season, and wine lovers would be well served to explore the Forks’ lively wine scene when the tourists are back home for the season. There are plenty of wineries that remain open even in the slow winter months, which can be some of the best times to go visit. There are no crowds obstructing the view of the fields, no lines, no overfilled parking lots. In fact, it’s just you and the wine. It’s the way, after all, that things out east should be.
Consistently named one of the best winemakers on Long Island, Paumanok also remains open well into the chilly months, with slightly altered hours from November through March. Tasting flights vary in price and in scope—intro tastings of three wines will run you about $8 apiece, whereas longer five-wine tastings cost about $20. The winery offers guided tours, by appointment only, in which patrons can see how grapes are grown and how wine production takes place. The winery also offers a small menu, for those seeking a bite with their libations.
Paumanok Vineyards, 1074 Main Road, Aquebogue, 631-722-8800, open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. November through March.
This spacious, modern tasting room is a winter delight, with unfettered views of spare fields that recall a manicured European garden. You can choose from a series of diverse flights or settle on a bottle, best enjoyed among the meticulous artwork that’s on display at Bedell. Outfitted in serene shades of gray and white, Bedell is its own winter wonderland, and an excellent place to while away a chilly afternoon.
Bedell Cellars, 36225 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631-734-7357, open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This 500-acre family-run estate gives a lot of bang for its buck (including access to Avelino, the superlative pizza truck run out of its back parking lot). Tasting flights are diverse, both varietally and economically, and the massive property lends itself to a day spent indoors. Even better? You can make a whole adventure of it with friends and family. Parties larger than 12 can book reservations directly online and can request to be seated in the Mattituck property’s wintery, wooden cellar, which is decorated with stone, leather and mahogany. Large groups are treated to guided tastings of five wines for $30 apiece. The Cutchogue space is smaller and more intimate, and is also open year-round.
Macari Vineyards, Mattituck Tasting Room, 150 Bergen Avenue, Mattituck, 631-298-0100, open daily, Cutchogue Tasting Room, 24385 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631-734-7070, open daily.
I’m obsessed with this barn-like space, which offers a glass-walled winter water view from floor-to-ceiling windows. On a chilly January afternoon, when outside feels less and less appealing, this is a great place to cozy up, indulge in a flight, and stare out at the blue abyss. Plus, you’re near enough to Greenport to cap off drinks with a winter warmer meal at any of the town’s estimable restaurants.
Kontokosta Winery, 825 North Road, Greenport, 631-477-6977, open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Home to some of Long Island’s funkiest, most interesting wines, Lenz has the added bonus of being open even in the slow months, for those in need of a place to hang out. The winery has been open since 1978 and is one of the Island’s longest operating vineyards, with 70 acres of Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown for bottling. Wooden walls and ceilings recall an old farmstead and the amiable, knowledgeable staff are ever enthusiastic about the wines they’re pouring. Pull up a seat at the tasting table, January notwithstanding, and stay as long as you like. It’s certainly better than spending the afternoon outside.
Lenz Winery, 38355 Main Road, Peconic, 631-734-6010, open Sunday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.
We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.
One fine body…