When it comes to Long Island wine, Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken comes to mind. Traveling east from New York City, one comes to a fork in the island. Which one you take—north or south—can make all the difference.
The North Fork is quaint and quiet, with farmland and villages that have so far resisted the eastward march of suburbia. It is also home to Bedell Cellars and Pellegrini Vineyards, which make Long Island’s best Reds.
The South Fork leads you to the glitz and sophistication of the Hamptons, where socialites, celebrities and hangers-on make the 100-mile trip every weekend from Manhattan by car, bus, limo or helicopter every weekend in the summer. In between the parties, Hamptonites can visit Channing Daughters and Wölffer Estate wineries, which produce the island’s best Whites.
In addition to being home to two U.S. Open courses, Bethpage Black and Shinnecock Hills, Long Island also boasts 50 wineries. In fact, these wineries have changed the landscape of the island's East End since the first commercial vinifera grapes were planted in 1973.
Nearly 40 years later, Long Island’s vineyards have helped to make New York the third largest wine-producing state in the nation, behind California and Washington.
So if you get to Long Island to play courses like Bethpage, Shinnecock, National Golf Links and Maidstone, make sure to make time to visit the island’s emerging wineries. They may not be as good as the golf, but you'll be happy you made the side trip.
Best Reds on Long Island
2006 Reserve Merlot
$48 per bottle
2005 Cabernet Franc
$20 per bottle
Best Whites on Long Island
2007 Tocai Friulano
$24 per bottle
Wolffer Estate Vineyard
2008 Pinot Gris
$22 per bottle