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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Martin

Inside the Bottle: Why You Should Take a Wine Staycation

Learn how to navigate a wine tasting day like a pro.

Raphael Vineyard
Melissa Martin at her Harvest Road book signing and release party at Raphael

I always become sentimental when I open a bottle of wine. It must be that I know within each bottle, beneath the cork is more than hints of citrus or bold dark fruit with complex layers. Beyond the tasting notes is a story—an experience that includes all of the care and finite attention that went into creating that exquisite juice, from vine to glass. It’s like experiencing an insider peek into the realm of winemaking.

With my “Inside the Bottle” feature, I plan to share tips from behind the scenes of Long Island Wine Country so you can become a true locavore and wine aficionado.

The summer season is in full swing. Why not plan a “stay-cation day” on the North Fork Wine Trail? There are so many unique happenings at each winery from sipping wine while listening to live bands, to a full North Fork immersion of food and wine through the North Fork Bed & Breakfast Association. Finding something to do around here is not difficult. However, arranging the right stay-cation day can be a challenge. Listed below are my Top Ten Tips as well as a Sample Day that will help you to experience wine country tasting like a professional, with much needed R&R to spare.

With my “Inside the Bottle” feature, I plan to share tips from behind the scenes of Long Island Wine Country so you can become a true locavore and wine aficionado.

1. Plan on visiting 3 tasting rooms. This is enough if you are enjoying each one.

2. Taste 3-4 wine selections at each. (Of course, have more if you are totally hooked.)

3. Call ahead to each tasting room to ask if reservations are required.

4. Find out if you are able to bring cheese and snacks or if they are available for purchase. This is a good idea if there is a deck, patio or café-style seating set up.

5. Take the opportunity to tour, if possible. It’s worthwhile! Either check online or ask upon calling if a winery tour is available. Select vineyards will offer this if they have a production facility or vineyard estate.

6. Ask questions. Don’t hesitate. That’s what your wine steward is there for and no question is silly when it comes to winemaking or the vineyard.

7. Be sure to try new releases, especially 2010 whites this summer.

8. Taste to buy. At each visit, choose your favorite. It helps to add a purpose to your tasting strategy. Bring a bottle or two (or more) home with you to savor after your day is through. Many tasting rooms offer multi-bottle discounts and specials. Plus, why not live in the moment?

9. Carry a bottle of water with you. Be sure to hydrate as you go along. No one likes a headache. 10. Watch your time if you have reservations for a tour or for dining.

Sample Day: Begin after lunchtime

Visit Macari Vineyards, either at their original Mattituck location or their new Cutchogue tasting room. Keep in mind that the Mattituck tasting room will carry all varietals, including reserve selections and wine club offerings. The satellite spot is a bit more limited as I am informed.

Arrive at Raphael Winery for a scheduled tour and tasting. Book time in for the tour to last about 40 minutes and include wine tasting of four labels. Relax at café tables in the tasting room or on the outdoor patio overlooking the vineyard with some cheese, crackers and fruit.

Head only minutes east to Croteaux Vineyards, which is off the main path. (Note that they carry only Rosé wine.) The tasting room is cozy and they also conduct wine tastings outside. If Rosé is really not your thing, try Osprey’s Dominion, also in Southold.

Time for dinner. On the eastern end of the Wine Trail, you can head out to Greenport for fabulous dining at Noah’s on Front Street. They offer creative cuisine presented in small-plate style, or try North Fork Oyster Company on the corner of Main Street and Bay Avenue if you’re craving seafood fare.

We all know that the North Road (Route 48) is exciting on weekends, to say the least. When U-Pick farms are speckled with visitors and their baskets, and Briermere dons a line of folks waiting patiently for their pick of homemade fruit pies, we don’t always want to handle the tourism traffic. Well, if this the case, most tasting rooms are open daily in-season (summer through fall), so feel free to plan your special day during the week. You may realize that it provides a more personal feel.

For additional help mapping out your Long Island Wine Country visit, click over to


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