Set just across the Long Island Sound from New London Connecticut sits Long Island Wine Country on the North Fork of Long Island. The best way to reach the North Fork from Boston (or anywhere in New England) is via Cross Sound Ferry from New London Connecticut which offers the fast ferry with a 40 minute travel time, or a traditional ferry (if you decide to bring the car) with a travel time of 70 minutes. On this trip, I was joined by
friend and fellow blogger Georgina Castellucci and decided to take a car over to North Fork to do some exploring. We cruised from Boston to Connecticut in a Lincoln MKX crossover which proved to be luxurious ride with impeccable craftsmanship all around. I have very fond memories as a kid riding around in my Great Aunt Kay’s 1988 Lincoln Town Car… and I can absolutely say that the MKX has all the luxury of that Town Car but with a very current, modern feel.
We caught the 9:15am ferry to Orient point where we were greeted by Jo-Ann of Vintage Tours. Jo-Ann not only shuttled us around North Fork for the day, but acted as an expert guide as well. Before we got started with our tour, I piloted the Lincoln to Heron Suites (our accommodations for the night) to drop off the car while Jo-Ann followed behind. Once the MKX was parked, and the keys were secured, we were off for an afternoon of wine and fun.
Located on a nearly 100 year old farm which happens to be the only Noyack Bay facing vineyard on the North Fork, The Old Field is family run and has been making wine since 1974. A true “all hands on deck” operation, Perry, second generation winemaker, was tapping down the grapes in giant holding tanks as our tour rolled in. As the grapes sit in the tanks, the juice settles to the bottom while the grapes and skin rise to the top. In order to keep the flavor consistent, tapping needs to occur. It may sound easy, but I tried my hand at it and I can attest that those are some strong grapes. It was great to be able to lend a hand in the winemaking process, rather than just in the wine drinking process.
The tasting barn at The Old Field is rustic, cozy and the perfect spot to samples varietals including a cabernet franc, chardonnay, and my favorite, rose. The tasting barn has a beautiful wood burning stove surrounded by rustic benches. I’m dying to go back and take LOTS of holiday photos.
Heading about 5 miles up Main Road and over to North Road, Kontokosta Winery, situated on the Long Island Sound was our next stop. Occupying over ¼ mile of Long Island Sound waterfront, Kontokosta is a stunning showpiece of a winery. The tasting room was designed by vineyard founder and manager Michael Kontokosta and his brother Constantine. The idea was to keep the feel of the local area, but elevate the style to a more contemporary aesthetic. Michael Kontokosta left corporate law in 2001 to start the vineyard and never looked back. His passion for wine, and willingness to experiment has given the winery a reputation of being both high quality, and approachable. Aside from some incredible wine, the vineyard itself has sweeping views of the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut coastline just across. Growing up on the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound, I had to soak in the view, and of course snap some photos.
After hearing about Sparkling Pointe throughout the day from the other wine makers, we knew we had to stop by. Georgina and I took a seat on the sprawling patio and learned about how the vineyard makes their wines in the Méthode Champenoise, or method of Champagne. This means while the wine still can’t be classified as a true Champagne (because it’s not grown in the region), it’s made using the traditional Champagne methods. By this point in the afternoon, we had sampled MANY wines and they were all starting to blur. While I can’t recall the exact wines we tasted, I do remember several sparkling whites, a rose, and an unusual sparkling red. The setting, as with all of North Fork, was stunning with a view of the grapes themselves. It was a perfect place to sip bubbles and end the afternoon.
As the sunset on a wonderful day in North Fork, Georgina and I headed to the Heron Suites to refresh and recharge before Ubering to dinner in downtown Greenport.
Day two of our trip consisted of exploring the North Fork in the best possible way, through food. After a quick chat with Sep and Katie, the owners of Heron Suites, (who also happened to be the owners of our next stop) we headed to Sep’s Farmstand to check out some super fresh produce. Sep’s has been a North Fork staple for over 60 years and the land is still maintained by the same family, using similar methods as they used 60 years ago. Touring the farm was an incredible experience learning about the land, the food, and the crops they plant. You can tell the family truly cares about the food and how they grow it. As a little treat, Sep fried up some freshly caught bluefish and black trout. There’s just something about food caught that morning and cooked that afternoon.
Because I can’t take a trip without trying the local seafood, we popped in to Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market to sample their local, sustainable oysters. I’ve slurped a lot of oysters in my 31 years, but I’ve only shucked a few on my own. While the process is labor intensive, and takes a lot of muscle, I was able to shuck 6 oysters. Maybe it was the personal sense of achievement, but they seemed to taste sweeter than usual oysters. As with any good oyster tastings, I washed them down with a local Greenpoint Harbor Brewery beer. Aside from oysters, Little Creek is known for their “Marion V. Chowder” which came HIGHLY recommended. Very light and creamy, the chowder was packed with delicious clams, thinly sliced potatoes, and LOTS of butter. If you try nothing else at Little Creek, try the chowder.
We took the remainder of the afternoon to cruise around North Fork in the Lincoln. With sweeping views of the Long Island Sound to the North, we headed to McCabe’s Beach to walk the sand, and collect shells. Even in November, I love the salt hair, and sand under my feet. We warmed up back in the Lincoln (thank you headed Bridge of Weir Deepsoft leather seats) and reclined the seats to catch a few afternoon rays through the panoramic sunroof. I have to say that the Lincoln was the perfect crossover for this trip with a balance of luxury, stunning style, and meticulous craftsmanship.
Whether you choose to spend the day in Long Island Wine Country, or a weekend, there’s so much to do. I’m a huge fan of beach towns in the off season and Greenpoint and the surrounding area does not disappoint. The Cross Sound Ferry runs year round except in inclement weather. It’s a perfect day trip from Boston, or a great weekend away.
Lodging, transportation, activities, and food was provided gratis during this trip. As always, the views and opinions are my own.