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If you want to enjoy a relaxing day trip from New York City, consider heading out to the North Fork of Long Island for a relaxing day, great wine, live music, and delicious food. Both my dad and I have been coming out to the North Fork for years and the popularity of this accessible wine region in New York has been growing in recent years.
This miniature guide to the North Fork written by my dad will include insider tips for the North Fork, the best North Fork wineries (according to us), where to eat on the North Fork, and tips for safe transportation without driving.
Please do not drink and drive. The LIRR runs out to the North Fork and it’s 100% possible to visit the North Fork wineries without driving.
Included in this North Fork guide
- The best wineries on the North Fork
- Tips for visiting the North Fork
- Where to eat in the North Fork
- How to get to the North Fork without driving
The best wineries on the North Fork
Everyone has a favorite winery in the North Fork, however I have mine as well. Many people from outside New York aren’t aware of how good Long Island wine is and I strongly recommend visiting North Fork to sample the best. There are many wineries in Long Island, which is part of the reason why I return each year for a relaxing weekend in the North Fork.
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard
Baiting Hollow is a special winery as the winery is also a horse rescue sanctuary. You can take tours of the paddocks where former racehorses reside after their racing days. The profits from four of the wines go to benefit horse rescue efforts, including the profits from their Chardonnay.
If you’re looking for a good meal accompanied by a nice glass of wine, be sure to stop here as their food is very good. It’s also the first winery in the North Fork that you’ll encounter if driving. Be sure to check the performance schedule as there are often musical performers during summer weekends.
Martha Clara Vineyards
Martha Clara is one of the largest wineries in the North Fork. I particularly enjoy their Chardonnay and their Riesling. It’s perfect for larger groups as there is ample indoor and outdoor seating. For families, there are also hayrides around the winery. Martha Clara is the only winery on Long Island to have won the New York State Governor’s Cup.
Over the weekends, there are rotating caterers that provide the food, which makes it always nice to have a meal here as it’s never the same. I’ve had pizza as well as clams here. We recommend making a reservation if you intend to dine.
Pellegrini is my favorite North Fork winery due to their high-quality wine and frequent musical performances. This winery is the first to have received a 90 point rating from Wine Spectator.
My favorite wine is the Cabarnet Sauvignon. There are often jazz, folk, and blues shows here. It’s perfect for enjoying a relaxing afternoon listening to music outdoors with a great glass of wine…
Paumanok Winery is one of my other favorite vineyards on the North Fork. I love the Chenin Blanc and I’ve purchased several bottles to bring home in the past. The view is particularly scenic with the porch, so I often stop off here just to enjoy the scenery. Expect some crowds as their wines are well known.
Paumanok winery is committed to sustainable wine practices and powers its winery entirely through solar power. They are often experimenting with winemaking techniques, even creating a wine without sulfites.
Lenz is one of the most popular Long Island wineries and it is widely considered one of the most premier wineries on the North Fork, so be sure to come a bit earlier to avoid the crowds. (They open at 10 a.m.) I love their Cabarnet Sauvignon and the Chardonnay. The scenery is worthwhile too.
Tips for visiting the North Fork
The Long Island wineries typically only have musical performers on Saturdays and Sundays in spring, summer, and early fall. If you’re planning on attending a free concert, be sure to arrive by 1pm as most musical performances start in the early afternoon. Check online head to see which wineries have performers with times.
Every winery has their own policy on bringing outside food into their place so be sensitive. No winery has ever said one word to me after I brought in outside food, but it’s best to eat before you go inside the winery as many of them have restaurants.
If you’re interested in catching more free concerts, travel on a holiday weekend. My secret is traveling in the middle of the weekend since many travelers go out the first night after staying overnight and head back on the very last day to be home by last possible evening. Rather than heading back on the last day of the weekend with everyone out, I’ll visit mid-weekend and head back the same day.
Bring small change, so you can tip the barristers. Many North Fork wineries accept credit cards to pay for sample, flight, or whatever they choose to call it. Of course, credit cards are accepted for purchasing wine bottles.
Drinking age in New York State is 21 and strictly enforced at all wineries.
Where to eat in the North Fork
The town of Mattituck has a lovely street called Love Lane that has many restaurants and deli. It’s where we typically go beforehand if driving (with a designated driver), however you’ll find that most wineries offer some food as well.
For high-quality food in Mattituck, try the Love Lane Kitchen for their delicious salads and an extensive menu. They also have outdoor tables with the option for take-out orders as the lines can be sizable.
The Village Cheese Shop is not cheap, but worthwhile if you love cheese. You can find a wide selection of cheeses here. The cheese platter costs less than $25 and offers many alternatives from Europe.
How to get to the North Fork without driving
The Long Island Rail Road runs trains from Penn Station to Greenport and Riverhead. The fare is $21.25 on weekends when purchased ahead per way. The ride is two hours to Riverhead and a bit longer to Greenport. The trains have bathrooms and comfortable seating so the ride is your chance to relax.
There are express buses from the NYC to Greenport via the Hampton Jitney. The Jitney to Northport costs $24.00 and takes about three hours depending on the bus.
If you’re less interested in taking care of the transit, you can book a tour of the North Fork that includes tastings at numerous wineries and transportation from Manhattan.
Limousines are an option if you are traveling to North Fork with a group. A limo to the North Fork can cost $350 including fruit and samples.
Renting bikes for the day costs $25 for a regular bike and $50 for a tandem. bike One operator, North Fork Bike Rental, drops and picks up the bike for you although we warn that the police enforce drinking laws even if you’re operating a bike. From Greenpoint, it’s only ten miles to the heart of the North Fork wineries.
On Saturdays during July and August, there is a free shuttle running from Riverhead and downtown Greenport. This shuttle includes thirty stops, including farms, wineries, railroad stations, and stores. You can find out more information by downloading the North Fork Now app.
I think that the easiest solution is to use taxis or Lyfts to get around the wineries as well as to return back to the railroad station, which is an affordable solution if you’re with a group and intend to drink.
Have you been to the North Fork? Where’s your favorite winery on the North Fork?
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