The spare heater to my back was comfortably warm, though Perry, one of the owners of the family-run Old Field Vineyards, had warned it could get hot, even without the empty wine tasting sitting on the table in front of me. As if in anticipation of that thought, the door to my right opened, revealing Roz, Perry’s mother, carrying more cases of wine into the cozy back room, and letting in a draft of cool air. A white blur darted through the open door, immediately finding the person most likely to share their cheese plate.
I’d read about the vineyard pup online, but here was Dilly-Dally, in the flesh.
My friend Rebecca dutifully sneaked her pieces of some of the best cheddar I’d ever tasted, while I swirled my “Rooster Tail” red and pretended not to notice. Outside, a flock of chickens patrolled the grounds. We’d only arrived in Greenport that morning, but with two winery visits nearly completed, the city already felt like a far-off memory.
As any four-season, northern hemisphere dweller knows, the dregs of late February are often the hardest part of the year. The holiday excitement is long over, but spring still seems awfully far away. Rebecca and I had been talking about doing a trip together for some time, but LA or Charleston was going to be too expensive and time-intensive. So although we opted for closer to home, our destination was no less desirable: Long Island’s North Fork wine country, with Greenport as our home base.
In an impressive display of quick last minute planning, Rebecca narrowed down the list of wineries open in late February, and we selected the last available AirBnB for that weekend. It was a stroke of good luck. Three days before our trip, our host informed us that we’d have the place–a two story, three bedroom-with en suites-in-each, beautifully decorated old house (complete with a main and a back staircase) totally to ourselves. Cue the dance party.
So we booked tickets on the Hampton Jitney (a luxe but affordable bus) for early Saturday morning, and kicked off our escape with the most stereotypical of New York activities: we got bagels. Carb and cream cheese loaded, I dreamily watched as the city faded into suburbs that faded into quaint small towns, the sounds of the musical Hadestown in my headphones.
By the time the Jitney dropped us off on the other side of Greenport’s LIRR station, we were ready to begin the “wine” part of our getaway weekend. Despite being within a fairly close radius of each other, the three wineries we visited all had a very distinctive feel. It goes without saying that the wine at each was excellent.
Kontokosta felt iconic—from the industrial barn chic interior to the stark beauty of the outside property. In summer, I imagined it must be pure heaven to stand outside with a glass (or two) of their rose. The bold outline of the barn that served as the tasting room commanded attention, perfect for a picture backdrop, and the sounds of the waves and breezes coming off the Long Island Sound would offer relief on a hot summer day.
Sparkling Pointe also felt like an ideal place to spend a warmer day in true spring, with the effervescence of the sparking wine on the tip of your tongue. We visited there on our second day, hangovers (mostly) vanquished by the perfect weekend breakfast served at Crazy Beans. Sparkling Pointe was relaxing and comfortable, without sacrificing any of the subtle glam for pretentiousness. I’d never taken the time to dive into differences between various sparkling wine varieties, and our server did an excellent job assisting us as we did so.
But to be perfectly honest, on a clear but chilly afternoon in late February, my preferred winery was exactly where I found myself that Saturday—nestled in front of the space heater in Old Field’s tasting room, a second glass of the “Rooster Tail” in my hand. I was more than happily buzzed, and as Dilly Dally quietly whined and begged for more cheese, Perry indulged me and Rebecca by telling us more about the vineyard’s sustainable growing practices. These included ones like hand harvesting, growing cover crops, and using organic sprays as much as possible.
“We don’t really advertise it,” she said of the sustainable practices. “But if people want to know, it’s on the website.”
We talked about the necessity of farming and local food, and about the worry for the next generation of both farmers and humans. (My love for “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” probably came up in the conversation somewhere—it often does, whether I’m drunk or not). But pretty soon, we were nearly the last ones in the tasting room, and it was time to leave. We headed out, a bottle of the “Rooster Tail” in hand, and said our goodbye’s to Perry.
Sunlight stretched over the vineyard, promising a glorious sunset if we walked down to the water’s edge. (We couldn’t; it’s off-limits to guests). I marveled over the land that Perry’s family has farmed for 100 years. It seemed impossible that a giant metropolis lay not three hours west.
But it does. Such is the beauty of escaping to the North Fork.