In my last column, I mentioned that Peconic Bay Winery is one of the more family friendly wineries on the North Fork. Since then, a few people have contacted me asking me what other wineries I’d recommend for young families.
I thought it would be an easy question to answer, the fact is that almost every winery on Long Island is okay with you bringing your family. Most are family owned and operated and the owners want you to come, enjoy yourselves (safely) and—they hope—spend some money. I’ve had an experience or two when my son, who was around one at the time, wasn’t welcome, but that was years ago and likely an isolated incident.
That said, there are definitely a handful of wineries that are simply better for families—ones that have wide open (but somewhat enclosed) spaces, frequent live music and a relaxed, casual atmosphere. So, here are five of the most family friendly wineries on Long Island—along with a recommended summer wine or two at each.
Martha Clara Vineyards
With wide-open spaces, frequent live music on weekends and goats and pigs and other farm animals for children to see, Martha Clara is always at the top of my list. I’ve been there when three or four kids were flying kites while their parents tasted wine nearby. With regular “Vines and Canines” walks, Martha Clara is also very welcoming to your four-legged family members. Just make sure they are properly leashed.
Recommended Summer Wine: Martha Clara Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($20), a bright, grapefruit-y example of Long Island’s signature white grape.
Live music? Check. Large grassy area that is framed by vines? Check. A place to buy food on premises? Check. Jamesport Vineyards is the kind of place you can go with a blanket and spend the whole afternoon, sipping, nibbling and listening to great music.
Perhaps most fun of all, they produce verjus from unfermented, half-ripe grapes—so your kids can get a taste of the local experience too.
Recommended Summer Wine: Jamesport Vineyards 2008 Sparkling Syrah ($30). Sparkling wine is always refreshing on a hot summer day, and this 100% syrah version is good with a variety of picnic foods.
Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards
I’m probably sounding a bit like a broken record, but Osprey’s Dominion has a great field for children to enjoy and winemaker Adam Suprenant—for some reason—remains underappreciated for the quality of his wines, making this a fine stop for oenophile families.
Recommended Summer Wine: For $15, you just won’t find a better local sauvignon blanc than the Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards 2009 Sauvignon Blanc.
At one of the region’s oldest and western-most vineyards, you’ll find live music on the deck on weekends, a relaxed, very kid-friendly atmosphere and some terrific, underrated wines to boot. This is another of Long Island’s most dog-friendly wineries.
Recommended Summer Wine: I know that I plan to drink several bottles of winemaker Miguel Martin’s Palmer Vineyards 2011 Albarino ($25) this summer. With great acidity and tasting a bit of the sea, it’s hard to imagine a better wine to enjoy with local shellfish.
Peconic Bay Vineyards
I listed all of the reasons PBW is family friendly in my last column, I really just wanted to highlight Peconic Bay Winery 2011 Steel Fermented Chardonnay ($24) a snappy, lemongrass-tinged chardonnay that I’ve enjoyed several bottles of this spring already.