North Fork

As lovers of wine, visiting the North Fork of Long Island had been on our radar for a couple of years.  We had considered a day trip from New York City, but ultimately decided a long weekend would allow us the opportunity to truly experience all of the numerous towns and wineries it had to offer.  When Emily’s sister and her finance (Ellen and Alex) decided on a summer visit, we all agreed the North Fork would be the perfect destination.

Located roughly 100 miles from NYC, the North Fork was an easy drive for a long weekend.  We decided Greenport would be a great home base for our weekend. To get there, you can take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station if you prefer not dealing with driving. For our trip we decided it would be nice to have the flexibility of a car.  As Ellen and Alex were flying into LaGuardia as a thunderstorm rolled through the city, we took the subway/bus there and got a rental car from Enterprise (much cheaper than renting from Manhattan). Upon picking them up at arrivals, we headed east after the thunderstorm, almost like stormchasers back in the Midwest!

Friday July 1st

Something we didn’t expect was the lack of options for dinner on our drive from NYC to Greenport.  Driving along the Long Island Expressway, we encountered no advertising or signs for restaurants.  Growing up on road trips across the Midwest, we were expecting a variety of viable options for dinner.  This isn’t to say there weren’t places off the highway, but nothing we could easily see.  We ended up driving until Riverhead and stopping for a quick dinner there at a local take on Chipotle.

Once arriving in Greenport we did a quick detour down the main street to see what the town had to offer.  Cute mom and pop stores, ice cream joints, and water front restaurants were calling our name. We instantly knew this weekend trip was going to be a great one.  We headed to our B&B, Fordham House, to check in and see how our digs for the weekend would be.

Lodging

Based on different recommendations and research, it seemed as though a bed and breakfast in Greenport would be the ideal lodging for our trip.  Greenport is a great spot to stay whether you are visiting the area for vineyard visits (as we were), beach time, or just relaxation. With a wraparound porch, parking in the back, and a short walk from the main street, Fordham House was everything we could have asked for and more. Sarah, the B&B owner, quickly appeared as we walked in and instantly made us feel right at home.  After settling up on our rooms and getting a quick tour of the house, she offered us cocktails (cleverly named “The Traffic Eraser”) which we enjoyed on the porch, continuing to catch up and watch the lightning storm around us.

North Fork | Fordham House Welcome

Sarah provided a nice “Traffic Eraser” upon arrival!

North Fork | Fordham House in Greenport

Great location, great owner, great breakfast, overall a great choice.

Saturday July 2nd

As mentioned before, the main focus of the trip was to explore the dozens of wineries on the North Fork.  We did not want anyone to have to be the designated driver, so we ended up hiring a driver for the day.  Prior research had quickly taught us a driver on the North Fork is not cheap, however with literally no Uber presence, and only a handful of taxis, we decided it was a must-do. The company we used, North Fork Wine Tours, were very responsive and friendly (thanks Diego!).  They offer prearranged itineraries and catered lunches, however we opted for the plan-as-you-go option so we could pick whichever wineries we were feeling at the moment.  Emily and Ellen had decided upon a couple of wineries ahead of time, while Alex, with a day job of wine-making, helped keep us on course throughout the day. Garret…was really good at drinking the wine? Anyway, we called ahead to few wineries we had picked out to see if we needed reservations, however with a group of only four we did not need to reserve.

The driver, Diego, was booked for six hours, and picked us up at 11:30 after we had walked to the main street and got a coffee at Aldo’s, a great (and busy) coffee shop.  Six hours flew by as we visited the following wineries (and food shack!), loving each and every stop:

  • Sparkling Pointe – this sparkling-only (you can’t call it champagne!!) vineyard was delicious and had a great large outdoor seating area.
  • Croteaux Vineyards – this rosé-only vineyard was a hidden gem.  They technically do not allow drop-offs, but the experienced Diego dropped us off out of site before the entrance so we had no issues.
  • The North Fork Shack – we decided a hearty lunch was a good idea to get our second wind.  The food shack was everything we needed – delicious, filling and quick.  The plantain chips are great and we highly suggest getting a bag for later in the day (nice call Alex)!
  • Bedell Cellars – larger winery with a great lawn space for you to enjoy your glass of wine.  We even indulged in a fun game of bags!
  • Lieb Cellars – this winery was a bit off of the main road but well worth it!  We listed to some great live music and a delicious cheese spread.
  • Kontokosta – with a location on the edge of town, this was the perfect place for Diego to drop us off at the end of the day.  We enjoyed a glass of wine on the bluffs overlooking the beach before a 15 minute walk back to our Fordham House.

North Fork | Aldo's Coffee

Aldo himself pouring some coffee.

North Fork | Sparkling Pointe

Sparkling views at Sparkling Pointe.

North Fork | Sparkling Pointe Patio

We could not have asked for better weather!

North Fork | Sparkling Pointe Award-Winning

Build a trophy case already!

North Fork | Croteaux Tasting Barn & Garden

Down-to-earth and local feel at Croteaux Vineyards.

North Fork | Croteaux Vineyards

Ain’t that America?

North Fork | The North Fork Shack

Stoping for fuel (food) before the second half of our winery day!

North Fork | Bedell Cellars Bean Toss

The girls dominated in a friendly game of Bags!

North Fork | Kontokosta Winery

Within walking distance from town makes this the perfect spot to wrap up a day at the wineries.

After freshening up at the B&B we walked downtown to browse the main street for dinner.  Did we mention what a great location Fordham House is?  A short 10-minute walk from the main street action, the perfect distance away from the traffic the downtown brings but close enough you don’t have to drive and worry about parking.  We heard good things about Claudio’s from multiple people, including Sarah at the B&B, and decided to check it out.

Turns out there are three different parts. First we explored Claudio’s Clam Bar, which is a bit more relaxed and right on the water. With the wait being over an hour we decided to check out their main street location, skipping the third option, Crabby Jerry’s.  When Claudio’s Restaurant could seat us right away we took that as a sign, and enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner.

North Fork | Downtown Greenport

Our main hangout in Greenport.

North Fork | Greenport

A red, white and blue kind of weekend!

Sunday July 3rd

We decided our other full day on the North Fork would be spent on a wine country bike tour and had signed up for East End Bike Tours.  We arrived at the bike shop and were quickly welcomed by an unorganized group talking over each other to get us to sign a waiver, provide a wrist band, assign us a bike and finally pick out a helmet.  The chaotic welcome should have been the red flag that the bike tour would be…interesting…but it didn’t deter us.  More and more customers kept arriving, and we wondered how many people could be a single tour; turns out, they signed up nearly 40 people.  Finally, 45 minutes later, we were roaming the streets of the North Fork.

While we made the best of the day, we would not recommend it.  The large group was repetitively yelled at by motorists (which dealing such a large group we don’t completely blame them), and the path was almost entirely busy roads without bike lanes. To top it off, the tour “leaders” were so unorganized we literally found ourself leading part of the group at a T intersection for a busy highway, with no idea if the leader and some of the bikers had gone right or left (luckily Alex cleverly deduced it was probably a right, then Ellen led us to safety).

Our first stop was the beach for a cheesy olive oil tasting set up by the tour leaders before we headed to two wineries.  A couple of the tour highlights included a delicious Greek lunch catered at Jason’s Winery, and the driver/support staff man who drove to each location have an endless supply of cold waters (thanks Daniel!).  Our final stop on the ride was Harbes, which had both a vineyard and an interactive farm.

The memories we made were priceless, cheesy, sometimes terrifying, and even included Emily completely wiping out once…actually twice, on her bike. As we laughed about the whole thing on our drive home, since we all lived to tell about it, we made a stop at the Catapano Dairy Farm on the way back to Greenport. There we found goats and a small cheese shop. It is worth a quick five minute stop if you are into goat cheese.

North Fork | The Village Cheese Shop

A quaint cheese shop on the main street of Mattituck.

North Fork | Crazy Bike Ride

Mandatory “highway selfie” shot.

North Fork | Jason's Vineyard

Row upon row at Jason’s Vineyard.

North Fork | Biking through Vineyards

Easily the weirdest part of the trip.

North Fork | Harbes Vineyard

Harbes Farm had a small but neat winery.

North Fork | Harbes Farm

Grab one of the cider donuts if you stop at Harbes!

North Fork | Bike Ride

About at our wit’s end during the corny joke break.

North Fork | Catapano Dairy Farm

Fun little cheese shop at Catapano’s.

For dinner we had reservations at Noah’s, and with a couple of hours to spare decided pre dinner drinks would help pass the time.  Brix & Rye had good reviews online and a tasty selection of cocktails (they have a great mixologist there) so we decided it would be our first stop.  It was difficult to find but after asking around we were directed down some stairs to the dark, hidden speakeasy bar.  Some of the best cocktails we have had were consumed while enjoying burrata with roasted cherry tomatoes to tide us over until dinner.

Several people had mentioned Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. if/when we needed a break from wine. We headed there next and loved the hometown feel of the place.  The brewery was located in a large garage just behind the main street, and they simply opened up the large garage doors and set out folding chairs/tables for customers to sit and enjoy the local beer.  Dinner at Noah’s was a hit.  It is a great local spot with outdoor seating, which we took full advantage of to enjoy the perfect summer evening. The night was finished off with a bottle of wine collected at one of the wineries, and the last of the Cuban cigars from our adventure in May.

North Fork | Brix & Rye

A speakeasy on Main Street with fabulous pre-dinner cocktails.

North Fork | Greenport Harbor Brewing Company

The best place to grab a beer in the middle of vineyard country.

North Fork | Cubans on the Porch

Celebrating Independence Day with Cubanos.

Monday July 4th

Before we moseyed our way back toward the city we explored downtown Greenport one last time to stock up on t-shirts and visit a local bakery.  We couldn’t resist one last stop at a vineyard and decided upon Vineyard 48 because the vine-covered tasting room caught our eye.  The highlight of our drive back was the much anticipated stop at Briermere Farms for some of their delicious homemade pie (we tried to tackle the blackberry).

We dropped Ellen and Alex at the terminal before returning our rental car and heading back into Manhattan, yet another weekend of exploration complete for the Society!

North Fork | American Truck

Couldn’t think of a better place for Old Glory!

North Fork | Bedell Cellars

One final tasting on our way out!

North Fork | Briermere Farm

Come for the pie…leave with a pie.

North Fork | Briermere Farms Jams

Lots of options if Briermere Farm is your jam!

(De)Parting Words of Advice:

  • Getting a driver for the vineyards is pricey but is worth it, both for their local knowledge and the sake of having a DD!
  • Walk around main street without a plan and enjoy the beauty of small-town living.
  • Staying at a B&B gives you your own space but the insights of a local.

North Fork | Greenport Docks

Greenport decked out in Stars and Stripes.

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