*Disclosure-This trip was hosted by Cross Sound Ferry and I was an invited guests. All opinions are my own*
Did you know that Long Island’s North Fork is considered the premier grape growing region of the East Coast? Did you know that the North Fork boasts dozens (and dozens!) of vineyards and wineries? And did you know that is just a quick, 16-mile trip, across Long Island Sound, from New London, CT? I didn’t either, but now I do!
We departed New London aboard Cross Sound Ferry Service’s high-speed SEA JET, and in 40 minutes (less time than it takes us to get The Cape, or Boston from Providence, RI) We arrived in Orient Point, NY.
Upon our arrival, we met Jo-Ann Perry, owner of Vintage Tours. Jo-Ann has more than 20 years experience in the Long Island Wine industry, and is one of the sweetest people you’ll meet! Within minutes of meeting her, we felt like old friends. And boy did she know a lot about wine!! If you’re going to be visiting the wineries of The North Fork, I can’t think of a better, safer, and more fun way to do it!
Guided tours include:
Our first stop was at Catapano Dairy Farm (33705 County Rd 48, Peconic, NY) where we were greeted by a sweet farm cat named Kiki. (Of course I spent more than a few minutes hanging out with Kiki, while the rest of our group went to check out the rest of the farm)
Catapano Dairy Farm is a small, family-owned goat farm where you can get up close and meet the goats and other animals and watch their milking operations! A small shop on site features hand-crafted artisan cheese (we picked up the Peconic Bel sheep cheese, and Garlic & Herb goat cheese-both delicious!) and a wide variety of goat’s milk beauty products. (The Hand & Body Creme is AMAZING!) We spent some time with the goats, learning about the different breeds, and a bit about the farm, and then it was time to go. We hopped back on the tour bus and headed to Wickham’s Fruit Farm (28700 Main Road (Rte 25) Cutchogue, Long Island) Wickham’s is a family owned fruit farm with land that has been cultivated since 1661. It is one of the oldest continually cultivated farms in America!
The farm features over 300 acres of land (one of the largest farms on the North Fork) and 200 of those acres grow fruit of all kinds! You can pick your own, or stop by the farm stand for seasonal fruit, pies, and more! Tom Wickham, 10th generation farmer, hopped on our tour bus, and showed us around the property! It was so interesting to listen to him speak about the history of the farm. He brought us to The Old House, built in 1649. It is the oldest English-type house in New York State, and it’s beautiful. We got to see the orchards and even the old cider press (Built in 1902, it’s the oldest on Long Island) where they produce their PURE (no preservatives!) apple cider. It is processed using ultraviolet light, for food safety. It was such a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new technology! After a cider donut break (YUM!) we said our goodbyes and thanks yous to the Wickhams and headed to our next stop.
Our adventure brought us to Pellegrini Vineyards (23005 Main Road Cutchogue, NY) Pellegrini was founded in 1982 and is home to some of the oldest vines on Long Island! (in 1998 they purchased two additional parcels of land down the road, and now have over 70 acres of vines!)
Pellegrini is absolutely stunning, and as I looked out over the vineyards I was totally planning a vow renewal in my head. It is the perfect setting for a wedding or other special event! We met Zander, a talented winemaker, and were treated to a bit of a “behind the scenes” tour, where we learned SO MUCH about the wine making process . Admittedly, I knew very little about what it takes for a grape to become wine, but after meeting the winemakers at Pellegrini, I feel enlightened, and really have a newfound respect for wine! We had the opportunity to taste a few different wines. Dave’s favorite was the East End Select BBQ Red, while I loved the Vintner’s Pride Finale; a sweet, “Ice Style” wine made from the gewurztraminer grape. While at Pellegrini, we enjoyed a delicious lunch, from the NoFo Lunchbox, and then it was time to head to our final stop of the trip.
Vintage Tours brought us to the East End Seaport Maritime Museum. The Museum is small, but definitely worth a visit. Historian and tour guide, Ted Webb, who I had met on the Lighthouse Tour, was there to give us a bit of a history lesson, and answer any questions we had. A highlight of our visit was seeing Fourth Order Fresnel lens, complete with clockwork mechanism, that used to reside in the lantern of the Plum Island Light! Other exhibits throughout, share the rich maritime heritage of Long Island’s East End.
And then, sadly, it was time to head home…
Jo-Ann brought us back to Orient Point, where we boarded the ferry for our return trip home. This time we took the Auto Ferry, which takes about 80 minutes. We enjoyed spectacular views, on our journey home!
Taking the ferry was such a great way to travel. It saved us so much time, and almost 200 miles of driving! It was lovely not to have to deal with traffic, and to be able to make it a day trip (something that wouldn’t be possible if we drove)
The North Fork makes a great day trip, but to see even more you could easily turn it into an overnight, long weekend, or longer vacation. There is really so much to see and do, and it’s all so close!
To make your planning even easier, check out LIWEEKENDS which features a single travel-worthy suggestion for each weekend day, as well as a full calendar of events.