By Christina Brown
To many a New Yorker, Long Island is the destination synonymous with summer weekend getaways and beachside soirees. What most don’t know is that Long Island’s recreational offerings don’t actually stop in the summer. Come fall, sprawling vineyards on Long Island open their farm gates to local wine connoisseurs and amateurs alike to experience the rich and full tastes of their offerings. Contrary to popular belief, wine tastings aren’t exclusively reserved for European excursions and Napa Valley getaways. An intriguing selection of fine wine is being freshly fermented this side of the Atlantic at Long Island’s own little wine country. Here you’ll find family-owned vineyards well within reach of NYC, perfect for romantic day trips and family gatherings alike.
Martha Clara Vineyards
Stepping foot onto the Entenmann’s family estate and into a sprawling barnyard filled with tasting bars, home goods and original gifts galore, guests are greeted by the aromatic smells of fine wine and the friendly smiles of knowledgeable staff members at Martha Clara Vineyards. Situated on the Entenmanns’ 200-acre family farm are over a dozen varieties of Classic European wines including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Yes, the same family that brought to NY their signature pound cake recipe back in 1898 is also the foundation for this sprawling vineyard in Riverhead, NY. At a wooden carved bar with space to fit over 50 budding wine-tasters at once, Martha Clara offers samplings of some of their best varietals.
UPTOWN FAVORITES: Our favorites at Martha Clara included the Glaciers End White with it’s sweet, light and fruit-infused taste. Their P No Gree G-O, affectionately and phonetically named, has a delightful wooded and nutty flavor with hints of pineapple, and the Red Sweetie; a sweet red perfect for sangria and recommended for Valentine’s day festivities.
IN THE VINEYARD: Once you’ve carefully selected your choice of wine, take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the lands complete with information about the vineyard’s history and interesting facts about the harvest that grows there. Not into horses? Explore the vineyard by foot and don’t neglect to pet the domesticated farm animals out back or indulge in a few of the delectable grapes hanging from Martha Clara vines. For special treats, head to their cafeteria where you’ll have the option of sampling local fare – from a specialty meal of tapas served up by local catering company Tapas Nouveau to baked goods by Jeannie’s Treats – while enjoying the live music offered daily at 2pm.
THEY SAY: “We bring people in and try to educate them. We don’t want anyone to feel intimidated. When you come here we want you to have a good time. Bring your whole family, bring a picnic lunch, and stay the day.”– Gina of Martha Clara Vineyards