Let’s face it: There’s always a good reason to take an East End wine tour. Friends in from out of town? Wine tour. Got a new job—or a new hairstyle? Wine tour. Yard work to avoid? Wine tour.
And here’s another good reason: There’s always something new happening at our East End vineyards. New wines, new tasting rooms, new programming—it’s the sign of a flourishing wine scene that our wineries are always seeking to improve their offerings, enhance our experience and educate customers about the delicious products they produce. Below is just a sampling of what’s new at East End wineries for summer 2016.
First off, nothing says new like a brand new location. Cutchogue’s Waters Crest Winery, a small producer that, since 2002, had its tasting room in a somewhat out-of-the-way complex, has just moved into a more commodious space on Main Road in Cutchogue. It’s still cozy—with room enough for about 20 oenophiles—but Waters Crest has decked the new place out with comfortable seating and tables made from their own old wine barrels. The room is flanked by the handsome serving counter and a matching bar.
Meanwhile, down Main Road in Cutchogue, new things are brewing at Coffee Pot Cellars. They’ve got cyser! What’s a cyser? A cyser is a type of mead. Specifically, it’s a type of mead made with apples and honey. Coffee Pot has always had a sideline of honey-based items—supplied by Blossom Meadow’s Laura Klahre—and now, with the cyser, the honey and the wine have come together completely. Fun fact: The apples for the cyser came from nearby Breeze Hill Farm in Peconic, where the apple trees are pollinated by none other than Klahre’s own mason bees. Talk about the circle of life! Stop by Coffee Pot Cellars to sample this unique—and uniquely local—libation.
Over at Croteaux Vineyards in Southold, the rosé is flowing. This East End vineyard seeks to cultivate the ambience and flavor of Provence right here on the North Fork—in that spirit, Croteaux produces rosés exclusively. And now, in that same Francophile spirit, Croteaux is debuting Rosé on the Run. New for 2016, it’s a restored 1977 Citroen H-Van that is parked near the vineyard entrance, allowing walk-up customers to grab a cold bottle or two of Croteaux’s delicious wine while on their way to the beach. Rosé on the Run also features select food items, so customers can pick up some fixings for a French-style picnic—fresh baguettes, French mustard, cornichons and more. Vive le Southold!
Also modeling itself on Old World flavors and traditions is Diliberto Winery in Jamesport, where owners Sal and Maryann Diliberto are passionate about their Italian heritage. At Diliberto, visitors relax and sample wines, and house-made Italian specialties in a charming tasting room designed to evoke a Tuscan piazza. And new for this summer, Diliberto is introducing the Italian Experience Series, which will feature cooking demonstrations, wine comparisons between North Fork and Italian wines, an author talk with Maria LaPlaca Bohrer, and much more.
Some of what’s new for summer 2016 isn’t happening on the ground but rather in cyberspace. The Long Island Wine Council recently launched their new website, liwines.com, a well-designed site where visitors can get an overview of the broad range of wineries they can go to. One page has a handy tool that allows you to sort wineries according to their attributes. You can choose to look only at, say, intimate locales if you desire a quiet, peaceful time among the vines. Or, if what you’re looking for is some boisterous fun, you can narrow your choices down to just the lively venues. Another page has a tool that helps plan an itinerary to include several wineries along with choices of nearby restaurants, galleries, and even hotels and inns—a good idea in case you need to sleep off all that wine!
With so much new to taste and experience, it might be a little hard to figure out where to start. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, there’s a good solution to that. It’s called a wine tour.
Enjoy it safely.