Field Trip: Long Island Vineyards


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.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

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.

Martha Clara Barrel

Wine Tasting

Martha Clara Vineyard

The main tasting room.

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.

Martha Clara Vineyards

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.

Sunflower Field

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.

Martha Clara Vineyards

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.

Martha Clara Vineyards

Until next time . . .

What’s your favorite wine?  Red?  White?  Sparkling?

26 thoughts on “Field Trip: Long Island Vineyards

  1. Nothing like a red Zinfandel, that ‘s my absolute favorite. BUT we spent the winter in Napa Valley and all our neighbors grow Pinot noir, guess that ‘s all right too 😉 Seems like you had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos./Maria

    • Hi Maria. When it comes to wine selection, I go by two very definite formulas: color and label. If it’s red, I’ll drink it — and if it has a nice label or name, I’ll buy it. 🙂 Someday, I’ll have to tell you how I select cheese — I’m a total sucker for a good story and smart packaging. 🙂

    • Hi Jason. Believe me, there are still traditional farms and potato fields (and even a vodka tour) — but the vineyards certainly add a certain touch.

  2. My favourite is Riesling but I also enjoy light reds like Beaujolais and Merlot. We also live 20 minutes from (Niagara) wine country (yup – right near Niagara falls!). Wineries now have fabulous buildings for tastings and most here in Southern Ontario have high end restaurants as well. Thanks for sharing info about Martha Clara and the Long Island wineries – cheers!

    • Hey Astrid. I like the wineries also seem to feature other locally grown produce and products — and the structures are truly beautiful. Some even look like Italian villas — a little out of place on Long Island, but if you close your eyes . . . or enjoy a few glasses of Merlot . . . 🙂

  3. We toured the Pindar Vinyard also on the North Fork with some friends and had a wonderful time. Your post brought back some great memories and reminded me it’s time to go back

    • Hi Margaret. It’s a great escape — a mini-vacation. There are also B&Bs in the area if you’d like to enjoy a long weekend. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I really learned something here, Kevin. I didn’t know a thing about Long Island’s wineries. Is that north fork a bit more protected from storms off the Atlantic? I thought weather would be too harsh, but it’s clear by your photos that the vines are beautiful and healthy. I think wine tasting is such a leisurely and enjoyable activity. I enjoy it all. 🙂

    • Hey Debra. The North Fork is a bit protected since it’s surrounded by the Long Island Sound (as opposed to the Atlantic Ocean) and Peconic Bay. It’s a nice blend of weather — although the vintners are saying we did get too much rain this year, which does something to the grapes. It’s all about the science of wine. Cheers!

  5. Visiting the vineyards is always a lovely day–just need a driver!!
    I really liked Macari Vineyards on our last visit and my favorite wine is red–Merlot from LI!

  6. Once upon a time, I was an editor for a beverage magazine. I went to Pindar to interview the owner and received all sorts of goodies. When I think of the vineyards, it’s Pindar that I remember. As for favorite wines, I’m currently having a torrid affair with Moscato. I’m working my way through my local store’s offerings. The sangria is jealous, but will have to wait for me to come back.

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