Joe and I live in the center of Long Island, give or take a mile. That means that our climate is usually a bit different from the rest of the Island. Autumn arrives sooner, spring a little bit later, and the cool ocean breezes just can’t reach us during the summer.
It also means that if we drive west, we can enjoy the sites, sounds, smells, and flavors of New York City and its boroughs — but for a more rural excursion, we can drive east to Long Island’s East End.
Now would be a good time for a bit of a geography lesson. As Long Island juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, the tip splits into two points — or forks — giving the appearance that the Island looks like a big fish. The South Fork, which is mostly flat, is known for its stretches of sandy beaches and the Hamptons.
The North Fork, though, is a bit rockier, with slightly rolling hills and curving roads and farmland — looking more like New England than New York. And it is here where so many Long Islanders, New Yorkers, and other visitors come for a taste of something rural that’s within driving distance.
It’s the vineyards, though, that are the area’s star attraction. What began as a land experiment decades ago has since turned into a booming business and tourist destination. There are tours and tastings, parties and events — and it seems that with each visit we make to the region, another vineyard appears on the map.
Recently, some friends invited us to spend the day — albeit a very overcast and showery day — at Martha Clara Vineyards, where we shared reds and whites and cheeses and laughs.
Between sips, I grabbed the camera and went exploring — mostly because I love the orderliness of the vines, just row after row stretching straight to the horizon.
So grab a glass and join me as I stroll the grounds.
This particular winery has a small “zoo,” enclosures with some farm animals to keep adults and children entertained.
Immediately adjacent to the enclosures is a field of sunflowers — all wondering what happened to the sun on this particular day. I have a feeling this field will look spectacular once it comes into full bloom.
On the way to the growing fields, there is a row of hydrangeas — with full heads of white flowers.
At last, the area where magic happens — where sun and soil and moisture work together to create ingredients good enough to bottle.
At the end of the rows, I spotted this small gazebo — a welcomed piece of shade, or on a day like today, a great place to stay dry from a passing shower.
Before our East End day comes to an end, there’s one more stop — the souvenir shop, because it’s always nice to bring home a little memory.
Until next time . . .