Pour the Core: A Hard Cider Festival celebrates the revival of hard ciders and perries brewed from apples and pears. For the festival, the tree covered-landscape just outside of Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue fill with more than 30 local and international ciders including Peconic Bay Winery’s True Believer, Angry Orchard, and Magners from Ireland. Seminars teach patrons about all the ways to use versatile cider, from stirring into cocktails to mixing up in cupcakes and pork shoulder. A How to Make Hard Cider seminar demonstrates how to brew hard cider from nonalcoholic cider at home, covering the entire process from picking the right apples to forcing carbonation back into the opened bottles.
Nestled in the fertile New York countryside, Lenz Winery grows a variety of vinifera grapes that include chardonnay, cabernet franc, merlot, and malbec to compose a fine symphony of wines. Wines from Lenz Winery's 70 acres are culled to fruition through meticulous means, bringing the vine to full ripeness and fermentation and allowing each grape to express itself in a fine wine rather than a cheesy poem. Guests of Lenz Winery can bask in the smooth sipping ambience of the premium six-wine tasting flight as they are surrounded by quaint farms and thriving crop fields.
The friendly enophiles at Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard take an interactive approach to wine education, guiding visitors through the ins and outs of the vintner process and offering sips of rich estate wines crafted onsite. Sojourners can venture to the winery to tipple glasses of chardonnay and merlot inside a rustic tasting room situated in a barn built in the early 1900s, or extend their stays with an annual membership to the vineyard’s unique Vine to Wine program. During the course of the year, program members take a hand in every part of the winemaking process, raising grapes from infancy before crushing and pressing them into adulthood at the vineyard’s custom-winemaker center.
The scenic North Fork vineyard is also home to Sannino's bed-and-breakfast, a single Tuscan-style suite that overlooks rows of growing vines and houses numerous amenities including a marble bathtub, 42-inch flat-screen TV, king-size bed, and spacious private living quarters. Complimentary beach passes and tasting tours await overnight guests, as does a full breakfast every morning. Remote wine-lovers can also peruse Sannino's wares online as they envision themselves traversing the verdant property and testing each bottle’s bouquet by closing their eyes and sniffing their computer monitor deeply.
During your tasting for two ($5 value per person), you'll sample five different red and whites from Osprey's superb selection. The award-winning grapen goodness is culled from lively vinifera vines creeping across the 90-acre grape growery. Spend time sipping in Osprey's comfortable tasting room and scouring the sky above the sun-bathed rows of green for soaring ospreys, who guard grapes from liquor-loving kobolds. The take-home bottle of 2006 reserve chardonnay ($15 value), a full-bodied sip that's ripe with aromas of tropical fruit, toasted oak, and vanilla, has a well-balanced acidity that pairs well with seafood and sea-smoothed stones. Check Osprey's Dominion's schedule of events to see when there's live music.
With two locations and 140 acres of picturesque land, Duck Walk Vineyard remains a popular presence on the Long Island Wine Trail, having been voted in 2013 as one of the top wineries in Long Island by "Best of Long Island". Tastings of the winery's many vintages, including reds, whites, ice wines, and fruity dessert wines, draw crowds of visitors to both of Duck Walk's spacious facilities, where live music dramatically shatters listeners' emptied glasses. The festive atmosphere here also makes it a prime setting for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and other private events.
At Vitae Restaurant & Wine Bar, executive chef Steven Del Lima puts a contemporary spin on continental fare from filet mignon to veal scallopini, a talent that helped him earn an entry in Best Chefs America. Del Lima's appetizers in particular have an international flair—beef tenderloin medallions come with hand-stretched tandoori naan, and flash-fried calamari is glazed with sweet Thai pepper.
At Vitae's opening in 2011, a reviewer from the New York Times praised both the "tender baby back ribs," brushed with house-made black-coffee barbecue sauce, and the "elegant" ambiance, enhanced by the soft glow of recessed lighting and hanging lamps. Stored behind an onyx-amber bar and in a 1,400-bottle cellar, an extensive wine selection earned the Huntington eatery a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2012.
A close look at the truffle selection tells you that XO Restaurant • Wine & Chocolate Lounge walks the tightrope between classic tastes and reinvention. Seated near the upstairs fireplace, you can sample a set of housemade chocolate truffles in classic milk, dark, and white variants, or nibble truffles dressed up as childhood treats such as oreos and s'mores. Alongside indulgent fondues, these desserts lend sweetness to the romantic atmosphere of the lounge, where live music plays every Friday and Saturday night.
Downstairs, the scene swings to a chic, brick-lined restaurant. The same spirit of experimentation is present in the menu, though: lobster pot pie, lamb and feta burgers, and flatbreads with toppings of fig and prosciutto are just a few of the kitchen's elegantly plated New American dishes. Wines have been sorted into flavor profiles such as "full-bodied and robust," saving patrons the trouble of asking each bottle for a character reference.