Relaxing Wine-Tasting Weekend on Long Island's North Fork
1Before you leave, check the schedule of the Long Island Wine Council for Friday evening winery events such as Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck ($9-13 glasses of organic wine and cheese plates) or Diliberto Winery in Jamesport .
2Continue your evening in Greenport, the North Fork's prettiest and liveliest town, at Chowder Pot Pub to enjoy the sunset over Peconic Bay. The live music and outdoor seating are perfect additions to a casual night out.
3Or, if you're hungry for a serious meal, have dinner at The Frisky Oyster, where chef-owner Robert Beaver creates modern, sophisticated cuisine (seared scallops with roasted golden beet risotto, filet of beef with lobster and potato hash), but with a sense of humor (oysters "Friskafella" with garlic-scented spinach, chipotle, and parmigiano aioli).
1Fuel up with breakfast at your inn or condo, or head to Love Lane Kitchen, located on Love Lane just off Rt. 25 in Mattituck, for the hearty challah French toast or made-to-order omelets.
2Rent a double kayak from Eagle's Neck Paddling Company in either Orient Beach State Park or in the Port of Egypt Marina, in Southold, and paddle across bays and estuaries where you can spot abundant wildlife, like heron, osprey, egrets, kingfishers, and even deer and red fox.
3Take a break from the sea air and sun with a lunch at Noah's in Greenport as you sample a variety of small plates (gorgonzola-rosemary fries, crispy Tasmanian red crab tacos) as well as oysters and clams from the raw bar.
4Spend a pleasant half hour perusing the boutiques on Greenport's Main Sreet and Front Street. Check out Doofpot for European ceramics, Verbena for unique design items, and The White Weathered Barn for charming artisanal crafts.
5Now it's time to winery hop along the North Fork Wine Route (Routes 25 and 48). With about 40 wineries to choose from (frequently marked with signs), you can't possibly hit them all. Stick to our top picks and you'll taste some of the best. Visit Paumanok Vineyards in Aquabogue, one of the North Fork's oldest wineries (founded in 1983), for lovely estate-bottled Bordeaux-style blends and crisp Rieslings and Chenin Blancs. On Rt. 48 (Sound Ave.), stop by Macari Vineyards in Mattituck to sample its array of Merlots, Cabernet Francs, and Riesling in an airy tasting room with a fireplace and vineyard views.
6If you'd like to keep your driving to a minimum, center yourself on Rt. 25 (Main Rd.) in Cutchogue, Southold and Peconic and visit Bedell Cellars, where 30-year-old vines produce award-wining wines such as a flagship red-blend Musée; Osprey's Dominion Vineyards whose convivial tasting room (try the highly rated 2007 Reserve Merlot) features live-music every Saturday; Raphael where an atmospheric Old World tasting room sets the scene for a unique 2012 Chardeaux (Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend); and Croteaux Vineyards, whose charming tasting barn and courtyard will entice you to chill out while comparing a variety of refreshing rosé wines.
7Keep channeling the spirit of the local vineyards and farmland by enjoying a three-course dinner at The North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, where Chef Gerry Hayden (a 2012 James Beard Award nominee) creates dishes based on locally caught or farmed ingredients seasoned with terrific flavors (like crispy Peconic Bay sea bass with Peconic Bay clams, saffron-braised fennel, picholine olives, and spicy clam broth).
1Sleep in. When you rise, head over to Lavender by the Bay, a 10-acre farm in East Marion to meander through the gardens, and pick up dried cooking lavender and calming lavender sachets and lotions.
2Grab a delicious "brunch on a bun" (perfectly prepared lobster roll), locally grown North Fork potato chips, and passion fruit iced-tea to go at Southold's The Lunch Truck before working your way back home, stopping at the many farm stands along Rt. 25 that sell fresh fruits and vegetables from June to October.
3Since you're so close, swing by the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead for designer bargains at Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and others. Justification: you need a new bag to tote all of the local wines you've just bought.