The North Fork of Long Island in New York has long been in the shadow of its much more famous southern sister, the appropriately named the South Fork. The South Fork is home to the Hamptons and the glamour-seeking throngs that flock there all summer.

The North Fork was historically an agriculturally-based region, which made for a low-key lifestyle. By the 1970s, however, the staple crop of boiler potatoes had fallen out of favor with the American public in favor of baking and frying potatoes, which meant that many North Fork farms struggled to stay afloat. Large swaths of land were emptied as younger people left the area in search of work.

As it turned out, vinifera grapes seem to really like the same soil and a few intrepid young winemakers attempted to plant vines. Now, over 30 years later, the North Fork of Long Island is a recognized AVA with over 50 wineries dotted along the main routes heading east.

In this itinerary, discover some of the Best North Fork Wineries and why they’re worth visiting. Plus, find out some of our favorite restaurants and hotels to stay at in the region.

How to Get to the North Fork of Long Island

Long Island is shaped like an elongated fish, with Brooklyn and Queens nestled in its west-facing head. The North Fork is accessible by taking the Long Island Expressway to the last exit and then heading out on Route 25 or Route 58.

From Connecticut, two different ferries access the north side of Long Island: the New London ferry docks in Orient and the New Haven line docks in Port Jefferson. The Long Island Rail Road is another option, but service to the North Fork is much slower than it is to the South Fork and therefore would not make day-tripping the most feasible. No matter how you get there, though, it’s a very accessible and necessary break from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Recommended North Fork Wineries To Visit

Paumanok Vineyards

Located in Aquebogue, Paumanok is one of the first wineries you’ll encounter heading east. Drawing its name from the indigenous word for Long Island, Paumanok is an absolute staple. Be sure to try the Chenin Blanc – it’s a personal favorite!

Shinn Estate Vineyard

Drawing exclusively from organic and biodynamic farming practices, Shinn produces some of the most interesting wines found on Long Island. Check out their cozy tasting room located in an old farmhouse and taste through a wide range of options. Perhaps most unique is Concrete Blonde, which is Sauvignon Blanc fermented and aged in a concrete egg.

Lenz Winery

Located in little Peconic, Lenz has established its name as one of the best all-around producers on the North Fork! And while you may be tempted to stick to the better-known varieties, check out Lenz’s Gewürztraminer for a dose of floral summer.

The Old Field

The Old Field is the history of North Fork wineries summarized in one tasting room. Still family-run, owner Ros will pour from their line up and talk shop about the changing face of the North Fork, of winemaking, and of life in general. On chilly days, the small wood-burning stove warms the air and takes you back in time.

Best North Fork Wineries, Hotels, Restaurants and Activities on Long Island - Sparkling Pointe | Winetraveler.com
Image courtesy Jamie Metzgar.

Sparkling Pointe

Perhaps the polar opposite, Sparkling Pointe’s bright and airy tasting room offers Long Island produced Sparkling Wine. All made in the traditional method. Perhaps most surprising is the Carnaval Rouge made from Merlot, which brings earthy spice to balance out the residual sugar. Grab a chilled bottle for your picnic!

Raphael

At Raphael, it’s easy to forget you’re on Long Island! The tasting room and estate have a very Napa-feel, and the wines also definitely are crafted in a very New World direction. Check out La Fontana, a Bordelais blend that’s remarkably versatile.

North Fork Long Island Hotels

Since the North Fork is a bit of a trek, give yourself a full weekend there to really be able to decompress. After all, do you really want to have to drive back to New York after a day of wine tasting?  

Townsend Manor Inn

Located at Stirling Basin in Greenport, the Townsend Manor Inn provides classic East Coast lodging in a historic house. Additional options include the colonial Captain’s House or a Waterfront Cottage.

North Fork Table & Inn

It was a struggle to decide where to place this because both the food and the accommodation are stellar! So, we’re going to recommend both. Stay for the weekend and make sure to dine here at least once. The wine list is unparalleled in the area with a well-planned mix of local and international selections.

Fordham House B&B

This gorgeous shipbuilder’s home from 1901 is the perfect combination of laid-back and elegant. Feel free to stay your casual self while enjoying the classic architecture and décor and digging into the fabulous breakfasts.

Sannino Vineyard B&B

Kill two proverbial birds with one stone by staying on-site at a vineyard! Located in Cutchogue, Sannino offers peace and quiet in the heart of Long Island wine country. Grab a glass or two of wine while you’re there!

Silver Sands Motel

We admit, we’re suckers for old school motels! Silver Sands hugs the Long Island Sound, allowing guests to just tumble right out onto the beach. It’s a great little find!

Top North Fork Restaurants

Erik’s

Get fueled up for a long day of wine tasting at Erik’s! Grab a classic egg sandwich or go big with a stack of pancakes. Your stamina will thank you later.

Stirling Saké

If you’re tired of wine tasting, switch it up with saké! Stirling offers an impressive range of sakés with classic Japanese fare to go with it.

Kate’s Cheese Co.

Kate’s is the perfect stop-off for a light lunch or mid-afternoon snack. Guests are encouraged to create their own cheese boards or choose from a wide selection of pre-curated boards. Ask your server to match your board with a local wine available by-the-glass!

Sang Lee Farms

Since you’ll be in the heart of Long Island’s agriculture, why not take advantage of that? At Sang Lee, you can shop the freshest produce and put together a killer picnic basket. Check out their farmstand menu available online before you go!

Briermere Farms

And while Briermere Farms is certainly no secret, it would feel… wrong to neglect mentioning it. Briermere’s pies are really the draw. So much so that there are often lines out the door packed with eager customers. They’re all stellar, but rhubarb’s sweet-sour balance is perhaps best of all.

Modern Snack Bar

Modern Snack Bar is an iconic North Fork eatery where time seems to have stood still. Indulge in nostalgia with a Rueben, sauerbraten or a slice of lemon meringue pie.

Recommended Activities

Jess Owen Carousel House

Check out this fabulous 100-year-old carousel in Greenport! Only $2 per ride, it’s open every day during the summer and on weekends off-season. You can pretend you have a kid around somewhere if you’re self-conscious of hopping on as an adult!

Laurel Lake Preserve

A little side trek off Main Road reveals a lovely little fresh water lake popular among fishermen. It also makes a delightful swimming hole if you averse to all that saltwater.

Shelter Island

If you’re ready for a break from wine, take a ferry from Greenport to Shelter Island, a small haven between the forks. Most of it is a nature preserve with fantastic hiking trails and bird watching.

Plan Your Getaway

Best Time of Year to Visit the North Fork of Long Island - Autumn

The forks of Long Island can be very busy during summer weekends, so if possible, plan your trip for mid-week – or better yet, make an entire week out of it! However, fall might just be the most beautiful time of year to visit. The mobs have gone home, harvest sets in, and the colors of autumn are stunning. The North Fork is worth the trek any time you choose to go!

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See All Itineraries Written by Jamie


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Jamie Metzgar
California Wine Appellation Specialist & WSET III Sommelier at Winetraveler
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.

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One Comment

  1. The beauty of the north fork is no longer a secret. If you think fall is a quiet time to visit your misinformed. The only quiet time is winter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.

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