Over the past 14 months, Neil and I have sampled wine in over a dozen countries. We’ve also had the chance to visit a variety of small and large wineries. We rode bikes to taste wine in Maipu after sampling free wine in Mendoza, Argentina. In Italy we’ve visited wineries in Le Marche and had a tour with Tuscany Ride a Bike in Lucca. We tasted Riesling on a wine street in Germany and sampled black wine when we visited a family run winery on Hvar Island, Croatia. But now that we are home we are hoping to help promote wine production on Long Island, New York.
Producing over 500,000 cases per year, the Long Island wine region totals over 30 wineries and 3000 acres of vines. Considered an innovative area for winemaking, the eastern end of Suffolk County in New York enjoys maritime climates and unique soil that help grapes reach their full potential over a long growing season. Easily accessed by organized winery tours or independently with a few friends, this wine region 75 miles east of Manhattan welcomes over 1.2 million visitors annually.
Touring the Long Island Wineries
The largest winery, Pindar Vineyard produces over 70,000 cases of wine each season and is run by the family of Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos. The winery, named after a 5th century Greek poet, specializes in Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Riesling. As a result of their passion for wine, Pindar has been the recipient of several medals from several notable events, including: New World International Wine Competition, New York State Fair, Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Competition, and Indy International Wine Competition. Grounds are enchanting and the tasting room is environmentally friendly with energy-saving lighting, recycled tasting sheets, and high-efficiency dishwashers.
Castello di Borghese Vineyard
Deemed the “Best Winery in Long Island” by the Long Island Press, Castello di Borghese Vineyard showcases its skill in crafting superb Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc as well as Meritage and Chardonnay. Owners Marco and Ann Marie Borghese have designed the grounds to resemble a country retreat with indoor/outdoor café-style seating and piano bar happy hours with live music. Their numerous accolades include medals won from the Denver International Wine Competition, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and New York Wine and Food Classic. In addition to signature wine tastings, Castello di Borghese Vineyard also offers cellar tours and private tastings.
Owned by Michael Lynne, an art collector and film executive who produced Lord of the Rings, Bedell Cellars boasts a tradition of lauded winemakers. Bedell is the only winery to have received 91-points from Wine Spectator for its red blend Musee. With a long veranda and white paneled, airy tasting room, the winery is the perfect mid-afternoon stop. Visitors can taste wine and view the historical barn and guest cottage, dating back to the 1700s. Purchase a bottle and enjoy it in the apple orchard or pavilion. Guests will love Bedell’s Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc made from 100% estate grapes.
Sitting among vast landscapes teeming with beautiful greenery, Raphael Winery is run by the Petrocelli family whose patriarch, Jon, designed the buildings in homage to his childhood memories of an Italian monastery. The family focuses on the importance of land and the influence it bears on their grapes. The winery itself is underground, built 12 feet below the topsoil in a naturally maintained 55-degree environment. In the fields, each vine is hand-attended, from pruning to harvest. Inside, warm woods and cheery chandeliers accent the tasting room. Visitors can sample Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and a sustainable “Green Line” of wines served on-tap.