Barrel rolling at Wolffer Harvest Party.
Channing Daughters Winery tasting room.
Channing Daughters Winery.
Channing Daughters Winery.
Grape stomping at the Wolffer Harvest Party.
Macari Vineyards' Menhaden roof deck.
Winemaker Roman Roth at Wolffer's Harvest Party.
Wolffer Harvest Party.
As summer on the East End grinds to its now-official halt, you may be wondering: What comes next as far as wine is concerned? While sipping pink wine during a prolonged sunset may feel like peak Eastern Long Island, autumn on the East End is the true wine-drinking season. And before you dismiss old favorites out-of-hand (you’ve done them; I know), consider a few cool things that are happening this year, both new and repeating. It’s enough to get the taste buds flowing.
Macari Vineyards has released a new rosé, just in time for fall. This deep pink cuvée, called the “Lifeforce,” is produced from Cabernet Franc that has been fermented in concrete egg (as opposed to stainless steel tank, for instance). The winery hails the product as “An amazing gift from a difficult season,” which 2018 was on the North Fork. On September 27, Macari celebrated the new wine with a release party at the roof deck at Greenport’s The Menhaden, but if you missed that party, you can still find this limited-release rosé, which is rich and thoughtful, at the winery — until it sells out, that is.
In Cutchogue, Sannino Vineyard, under the helm of owner Anthony Sannino, has finally opened the doors to its eco-friendly tasting room, which began construction last fall. The 6,000-square foot space will permit the Sanninos to produce, bottle, and sell their wines at one singular facility. A contractor himself, Sannino used his own experience to construct a space that is both efficient and aesthetically appealing. During the fall, the tasting room will open at 11 each morning. The property also features a bed-and-breakfast, which has long since been part of the Sannino business.
On October 12, (with a rain date of October 13), Wölffer Estate Vineyard, in Sagaponack, will host its annual Harvest Party, from noon to 4:30 p.m. As in years past, the idyllic vineyard will provide live music, food, wine, and cider, as well as a grape-stomping, barrel-rolling, winemaking relay race, petting zoo, hay rides, and pony rides. This year, the winery has included more games and activities for younger participants, to encourage families to attend. Like last year, Wölffer has partnered with Lyft to detract from irresponsible driving. Attendees using the Lyft app can enter the code WOLFFER for $5 off their first four rides. Tickets are $154 per person for attendees 20 and up; guests 3 to 20 are $85. Children under 3 can attend for free. While you’re there, visit the wine store and stock up on your favorite products for that long, cold winter to come.
Lieb Cellars, in Cutchogue, celebrates its Harvest Party on October 13 this year. From noon to 3 p.m., guests can enjoy special flights of just-pressed juice and finished wines, food pairings, live music, and a grape stomp. Tickets, which are $20, are required for entry. If you can’t make it to Lieb during the Columbus Day weekend, the winery is a great place to check out on any other fall afternoon, too. The comfortable, relaxed tasting room is perfect for those looking to kick back and enjoy the wine-tasting atmosphere of the North Fork.
There are, of course, the old regulars. On the South Fork, be sure to check out Channing Daughters this fall, where you can taste through winemaker Christopher Tracy’s outstanding local wines. In addition to the seven rosés that Channing produced this season (fall is still optimal pink wine season, just so we’re clear), they have a long list of whites, oranges, and reds to choose from. The work of the late sculptor Walter Channing — who was also the vineyard’s owner — is displayed in the vineyards, tasting room, and grounds. A walk around the property yields an unexpected opportunity to interact with his monumental and important art.
In short, there’s no lack of things to do, even if summer has abandoned ship. Fall in wine country might be the most spectacular season of all (and, now that more people are getting wind of it, among the busiest). Take full advantage of what the Forks have to offer and taste through wines both new and old. It may not be what we traditionally refer to as the “most wonderful time of the year,” but fall on the East End? It’s a wine-lover’s paradise. Drink it up.
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