Instead of jetting off to California wine country for your wine fix, consider the top-rated wineries in Long Island. The area is home to dozens of vineyards and wineries—most family-owned and run—that are making some of the country’s best wine. Many vineyards are concentrated in the North Fork, but there are several sprinkled all across Long Island. Just hop on the LIRR and get ready to sip the day away.
For more than 35 years, the family-owned and -operated Pindar Vineyards has used its 500 acres to grow 17 varieties of grapes and craft them into 23 varietals and blends. With 7,000 cases of wine being produced each year, Pindar is the largest winery on Long Island. Stop by for tastings, tours, pairings, and live music throughout the year.
The Macari Vineyards tasting room in Mattituck offers several tasting flights and wines by the glass or bottle to sip while overlooking the sweeping vineyard. And if you’re feeling peckish, artisanal cheese and charcuterie are available as well. Owned and run by Joseph and Alexandra and their two children, the Macaris planted their first vines in 1995. After studying biodynamic viticulture, the family invested in a herd of longhorn cattle, which you can see on your visit, and a field devoted to compost. Wines to try include merlot, chardonnay, syrah, pinot meunier, and various blends.
One of the few wineries on the South Fork in the Hamptons, Channing Daughters is known for its wide variety of grapes grown—more than two dozen—on its 28 acres, which means you can taste a lot of wines there that you won’t find anywhere else in the region. Plus, all of its grapes are hand-picked, with skins, seeds, and pulp composted. On a visit, be sure to wander the grounds of the sculpture garden vineyard where owner Walter Channing’s works are on display.
Merlot grapes are often number one on Long Island, but McCall has made a name for itself since 2007 by growing pinot noir and cabernet franc grapes (as well as merlot), which are rare for the region. They also make a chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and several roses. A tasting in the barn features current inventory, specialty library wines, flights, and light bites, including meat from their adjacent ranch. A pioneer in sustainability, the vineyard is powered by energy from its very own wind turbine.
A visit to Lieb Cellars is sure to satisfy with its estate-grown, small batch wines, which include petit verdot, merlot, and pinot blanc. The Cuchogue property includes 85 acres of vines, an indoor tasting bar, private library room, and deck overlooking the farm.
Bridge Lane Wine
The younger set might appreciate Bridge Lane Wine over in Mattituck, run by the same owners as Lieb Cellars. Bridge Lane offers five wines (white merlot, chardonnay, rose, sauvignon blanc, and a red blend) in formats of a keg, a box, cans, and yes, there are still bottles. The tasting room here is bright and hip, with a yard strewn with artworks and picnic tables, as well as live music. A sparkling canned wine is coming soon.
Bring on the bubbly! This beautiful winery in Southold only produces fizzy bottles using the traditional Méthode Champenoise on traditional Champagne grape varietals including pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay. The tasting room, called the Tasting House, is stunning, with elegant crystal chandeliers and plenty of natural light to highlight the bright artwork. There’s also a VIP Bubbly Lounge and spacious outdoor terrace. Snacks include caviar and charcuterie from Brooklyn, and local cheeses.
The one woman here is Claudia Purita, who grew up on a farm in Calabria, Italy, and planted this vineyard in Southold by hand in 2004. The adorably tiny red house and tasting room is only open Thursdays to Mondays, and you can order flights of two, three, or four pours. Purita makes wines like merlot and chardonnay as well as gruner veltliner and gewurztraminer, which are more rare in these parts.
The ultimate Hamptons winery, Wölffer Estate is stylish, sleek, and often has celebrities sipping wine on its porch or lawn. High summer means it can be almost impossible to get a table for a tasting without a reservation, but it’s worth strolling the idyllic vineyards while you wait—and spying on the horse stables next door. Besides, you’ve got to sip the famous Summer in a Bottle Rose where it was born, right? For something more casual, head to their wine stand on Montauk Highway during summer, which offers plenty of green space to relax on (bring picnic blankets!), vineyard views, and wines and ciders by the glass and bottle. Finally, for a more food-centric experience, book a table at one of the Wölffer Kitchen locations, either in Amagansett or Sag Harbor, which have full menus and are open all year round.
Established in 1977 by Peter and Patricia Lenz, Lenz Winery produced its first bottles from grapes grown on its vineyards in 1983. In 1988, they leased and then sold their winery to Peter and Deborah Carroll, who already had a vineyard nearby. The Carrolls have kept the quality of Lenz for decades, producing sauvignon blanc, gewurztraminer, merlot, and malbec, as well as its famous Firefly Rose. Tastings typically follow the red, white, estate, and premium flight options, but custom flights can be arranged.
Ursula and Charles Massoud founded Paumanok on 127 acres in Aquebogue on the North Fork in 1983. Today, it is run by them and their three sons, and it is known for producing riesling, chenin blanc, chardonnay, petit vardot, merlot, and cabernet franc. The tasting room is inside a rustic but charming barn with vineyard views, and guests have a few tour options of the vineyards and winemaking facilities. Food options include local cheese and charcuterie as well as fresh oysters on summer weekends.