While traveling from Richmond to Montauk between two wedding weekends, we decided to spend a couple of nights on the North Fork of Long Island, NY. Hearing mixed reviews about the wine and as a wine and food fanatic myself, I felt like I needed to experience firsthand what all of the gossip was about. I’ve traveled to Napa Valley, Santa Barbara wine country and spent some time in Tuscany so I’d like to think I know a good glass of grapes when I taste one.
Once you get on the Long Island Expressway after the Manhattan traffic, it begins to set it that you aren’t in “Kansas anymore”. What were gas stations on every corner slowly turns into farm stands full of fresh flowers, fruits and other country treats. Not as hilly as other wine country I’ve traveled to, the North Fork’s wineries are in clusters up and down the main roads. The vines were just blooming and each tasting room was different than the next. Some were barns, others were modern and a few were laid out specifically for a special event space. They each had their own vibe and flavors to match. After getting over the tasting fee (maybe in Napa but on Long Island?!) and the cost of the actual bottles ($15-$70), the staff at each winery were able to warm us up to their vintages with their genuine personalities. After sipping, picnicking and cruising around the North Fork in true spring time weather (rain and mixed temperatures); I can say that they produce some delicious sparkling wines with a few surprisingly good pinot noirs and a strong variety of whites.
If you’re looking for a unique wine tasting experience, try the North Fork! I would suggest going in the fall for the beautiful foliage and harvest. If you can swing it, go during the week to avoid the crowds.
Every great wine vacation involves bringing home a few bottles to enjoy later. Nothing compliments a good glass of vino and memories of your trip like a perfectly paired appetizer. Try The Junior League of Tampa’s Brie and Apricot Phyllo Bites from our EveryDay Feasts cookbook. They pair perfectly with a slightly chilled chardonnay.
1 (8-ounce) wedge Brie cheese, rind removed
30 frozen phyllo shells
1/2 cup (1 stick) better, melted
2/3 cup apricot preserves
2 cups fresh or dried apricots, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup sliced almonds, or to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the Brie into thirty 1/2-inch cubes. Arrange the phyllo shells on a baking sheet. Brush the phyllo shells with the butter. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet. Top with a small amount of the apricots and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the Brie is melted and beginning to brown. Serve warm.
Yield: 30 appetizers