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Your superfluous New York fact of the week, Cheapos: There are more than 130 wine bars in Manhattan. Add the restaurants on every corner, block and alley—each with its own wine list as long as the line at the Empire State Building—and it’s safe to say that, well, New Yorkers are fans of vino.
But before you vow to visit every wine bar on the island in a weekend, consider a trip to the wine country of North Fork, Long Island. You’ll taste wine that’s just as good, and it’s only a day (trip) away!
Vines, Trains, and Bicycles
On the train ride from Penn Station to Mattituck ($33.50 round-trip), you’ll watch the buildings of the city fade into wide open spaces and long, luxurious stretches of green. And that’s when the fun really begins.
You see, there are no sidewalks along North Fork’s main road, making walking to wineries somewhat unwise, and while there is always the tour route, these standardize the experience, and are decidedly un-Cheapo. Our preferred means of transportation — friendly to the wallet and to the spirit — is the bike rental. What’s better than stepping off the train in the adorable town of Mattituck and heading to Adventure Cycles and Sports, where you can hop on a bicycle ($25) and pedal off to drink, eat and be merry?
Days of Wine and Rosés
We found the family-run Croteaux Vineyards (1450 South Harbor Road, 631-765-6099), with its idyllic courtyard and its deliciously pink wines, to be nothing short of magical. But if you’re visiting at the end of the season, call before you go: Once the small operation runs out of wines, it is done for the year.
Slightly larger, but no less enchanting, is the Sherwood House (2600 Oregon Road, 631-298-1396), where you can taste a wider array of non-pink wines in a vibrant, eclectic outdoor setting. Before leaving, ask for corks to take next door to Shinn Estate Vineyards (2000 Oregon Road, 631-804-0367)—the cork-sharing program grants you discounts or additional free tastings when you bring corks from one winery to taste at the next. Most wineries are supposed to participate, so try it at the various other spots along Main Road, including a few, such as Osprey’s Dominion Vineyard (44075 Main Road, 631-765-6188), that have live music on many a weekend.
Lest you think we advocate drinking and biking, it’s essential that we point out some spots to soak up some of that wine and give you the energy to keep on pedaling. Since wine wouldn’t be wine without a little cheese, we recommend a stop at The Village Cheese Shop (5 Love Lane, 631-298-8556). Stock up on your own assortment or stop by the café for cheese, small plates or even fondue.
If, for some strange reason, cheese isn’t your thing, head to the Love Lane Kitchen (240 Love Lane, 631-298-8989) just across the road. The place is as adorable as it sounds, and it serves up tasty sandwiches and salads made from locally sourced ingredients. Wherever you eat, be sure to stop into the Love Lane Sweet Shoppe (125 Love Lane, 631-298-2276) for a salted caramel to enjoy on the train ride back to New York City.