Since opening in 1975, Haight-Brown Vineyard has churned out 2,000 cases of grape-based libations each year from its nearly 10-acre vineyard and welcomed visitors into its rustic, cottage-like wine house. Emphasizing vinifera and French hybrid grapes, the state’s first-established winery creates a selection of wines that include the Big Red, a bold syrah; the Morning Harvest, a rich malbec; and Honey Nut Apple, a traditional apple wine that incorporates local honey and cinnamon. Vintners share their time-tested expertise during regular classes that teach aspiring oenophiles about a variety of vintages and techniques for cheese and chocolate pairing. Amid the tasting room’s wood accents and crackling stone fireplace, customers sample vintages and attempt to describe taste sensations with adjectives such as “silky” or “very different from milk.”
John Gizzi and Diann Greco, the American Wine Society–certified wine judges at Make Wine With Us, teach wine aficionados to create their own wines using grapes harvested in Californian and Chilean vineyards. At the start of the nine-month process (California grapes in the fall, Chile grapes in the spring), winemakers-to-be assemble with fellow enthusiasts to learn the intricacies of the trade. Patrons learn to crush and destem grapes in a machine called a crusher-destemmer, named after the device's favorite Germanic metal band. Following the crushing process, a hydraulic press forces juice into barrels, where it shall remain until the conclusion of its sweet, sweet metamorphosis.
At the end of the nine-month period, newly minted winemakers lean on family and friends to fill, cork, and custom-label the finished product. Budding vintners then tote home their vintages to share with family, friends, and robot butlers with built-in carafes.
Manny Miranda learned the art of winemaking from his father and grandfather, who hand-pressed their grapes in the courtyard of his childhood home in Portugal. Fifty years later, with the help of his wife Maria, Manny finally opened his own winery, Miranda Vineyard, and began fermenting delicately balanced vintages. In the past few years, wine-competition judges have taken notice: Miranda’s seyval blanc earned a 2010 Gran Harvester Award silver medal for its fruity taste, as light and crisp as a helium-filled apple. In addition, the Vinho Fino collected a 2010 Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition gold medal. The sprawling grounds of the winery play host to soft picnic blankets topped with lunching visitors, live concerts, Shakespearean performances, and tour groups of parched raisins.
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.