Summer Guide: Wine Country

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It's no secret that the East End of Long Island is an epicurean's paradise. There is a close connection between our food and our dinner table, and quite a few tables wouldn't be complete without a nice glass of wine. Fortunately, Long Island has that in the barrel, so to speak. The majority of our vineyards are concentrated on Long Island's North Fork-a drive out to Orient Point showcases acres of picturesque grapes, all neatly kept and awaiting transformation into a local favorite. But the South Fork's wineries and vineyards, set against the jaw-dropping Hamptons landscape, are equally popular among those looking to infuse an evening with Long Island flavors. The first Long Island winery was established in the early 1970s; since then, the region has gained a solid reputation for producing fine wines in virtually every variety. According to the Long Island Wine Council, East End grapes thrive because of the maritime climate, moderate temperatures, fertile soil and long growing season. The most popular reds include merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, while white wine lovers are inclined to flock toward the Long Island chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling. A Long Island rosé also pairs perfectly with a hot summer night. Fortunately for the discerning wine connoisseur, the varieties and flavors of an East End wine span a broad range of tastes and finishes. Below is a brief sampling of Long Island's wineries and vineyards. Many offer tours and tastings. Be sure to refer to Dan's Papers or for more comprehensive information on Long Island's wines and details on summer entertainment and live music schedules. Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard (631-369-0100, in Baiting Hollow offers such wines as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and reisling. A selection of Baiting Hollow's wines is devoted to the vineyard's horse rescue efforts. Comtesse Therese (631-779-2800, in Aquebogue's wines include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rosé, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Comtesse Therese is the only vineyard restaurant on Long Island, and the Bistro serves Comtesse Therese wines and dishes created from a variety of locally-sourced ingredients. The Lenz Winery (631-734-6010, in Peconic was founded in 1978 and is one of the oldest wineries in the region. Varieties produced include chardonnay, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, gewürztraminer and merlot. Peconic Bay Winery (631-734-7361, in Cutchogue produces such wines as riesling, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, petit and sauvignon blanc. In addition, Peconic Bay Winery's Sono Rinata Immature Grape Brandy was the first brandy to be produced on Long Island. Roanoke Vineyards (631-727-4161, in Riverhead specializes in such wines as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. This summer, check out their second tasting room on Love Lane in Mattituck. Sherwood House Vineyards (631-779-2817, in Jamesport and Mattituck has chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot wines. The 2008 chardonnay was awarded "Best in Class" at the 2011 Los Angeles International Wine Competition Vineyard 48 (631-734-5200, in Cutchogue offers chardonnay, riesling, cabernet franc and merlot, among others. Be sure to check out the vineyard's Saturday Dance Parties, which will showcase a variety of music and the vineyard's famous frozen sangria. Too many wineries and vineyards to choose from? Check out the North Fork Trolley Co. ( for information on winery tours. LONG ISLAND SUSTAINABLE WINEGROWING Formed on Earth Day 2012, Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW) does away with vague notions of "sustainability," as the organization provides vineyards with official recognition for agricultural practices that are modeled after international standards of sustainable production. LISW has four founding members -Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Martha Clara Vineyards and Shinn Estate Vineyards-each of whom are committed to bringing a clear definition of sustainability to Long Island Wine County. LISW seeks to develop a certification program for the use of sustainable farming practices in growing grapes, as they foster a community between the vineyards, the workers and the land. A not-for-profit organization, LISW will ensure the agricultural use of these beautiful lands for many more generations.

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