Wine Tasting on Long Island's North Fork
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Lounge and enjoy a casual afternoon at Jamesport Vineyards
|Your cup will runneth over|
|Try the Sauvignon Blanc at Shinn Estate Vineyards|
|Love Lane Kitchen keeps it simple and delicious|
In recent years, the winemaking trade has spawned a whole food and lifestyle culture along the beautiful and mostly unspoiled roads and villages of eastern Long Island’s North Fork. Like Napa a generation ago, the few top-notch, celebrated restaurants along the North Fork Wine Trail are definitely worth visiting, but those familiar with the area prefer the charming small spots that emphasize locally sourced ingredients and where the owners are hands-on—in the kitchen and at the counter.
Jamesport, a few miles east of Riverhead, where Long Island separates into the twin forks, is where the gourmet journey begins. Head directly to Grana (1556 Main Road, 779-2844), a storefront delight in the tiny village, for its wine list of local varietals and its delectable pizza: medium-size, crisp thin-crust with enticingly inventive toppings such as braised Berkshire pork belly with Fontina, aged mozzarella, and a red-onion confit. David Plath tends the wood-burning oven, while his wife, Nancy, takes care of the front of the house. Jamesport Vineyards (1216 Main Road, 722-5256), operated by three generations of the Goerler family, is one of the oldest wineries on the fork. The scallop shell on its East End Series labels reflects the winery’s involvement with a local initiative to encourage the raising of shellfish—appropriate, given that the 2009 East End Cinq Blanc, a bright, balanced blend of white grapes, pairs well with them. In the mood for a red? The 2007 Jubilant Reserve, a Cabernet Franc–based blend, is beguiling and full-bodied.
Moving east to the picturesque village of Mattituck, seek out Love Lane, a little street off Main Road with a colossal gourmet cluster. You can easily spend a day—or a week—at Love Lane Kitchen (240 Love Lane, 298-8989), a simple, pretty place with a knockout menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The succulent burgers are made with McCall’s organic grass-fed beef from cattle raised a few miles away; the greens were grown at Satur Farms, also nearby; and the pasta is house-made. Next door and under the same ownership is Love Lane Market (170 Love Lane, 298-2200), an extraordinary gourmet market with the very best of everything. Its rotisserie local duck or the various pizzas from the wood-burning oven are perfect for a picnic. To finish filling that basket, head across the street to The Village Cheese Shop (105 Love Lane, 298-8556), which offers one of the best selections of artisanal cheeses you might hope to find. Neighboring Love Lane Sweet Shoppe (125 Love Lane, 298-2276) completes the meal with desserts of chocolates and candy.
Nearby Macari Vineyards (150 Bergen Ave., 298-0100) is known for its natural approach to viticulture and winemaking, and it shines through in wines like the Sette NV—a Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend evocative of plums with enticing aromas of green olives and spices—and the rich, refreshing 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. Another noteworthy Sauvignon Blanc can be found down the road at Shinn Estate Vineyards (2000 Oregon Road, 804-0367), where the 2010 First Fruit Sauvignon Blanc tastes of ripe pear, minerals, and herbs (the 2008 Estate Merlot, with its gentle tannins and red plum flavors, is also stellar).