Given all the wineries on Long Island's east end (both the north fork and south fork), it's hard to pick five favorites...so I'm extending it to ten. Some are favorites for their great wines. Some are listed because they have great tasting rooms or are manned by great people. Regardless, I wouldn't steer you wrong...so if you're going out east, check these ten out. Note: It's really impossible for me to put them in any sort of real order...the group is so diverse...and they are all good, or they'd not make my list.
Lieb Family Cellars: Every single wine I've ever tasted here has been top-notch. From their $50-plus Meritage down to their Bridge Lane blends. This was our first wine club membership and the one I look forward to most. I only wish they sent us something montly instead of three times a year.
My favorites: Reserve Merlot, Pinot Blanc
Wolffer Estate: We've only been to Wolffer once (it's on the south fork, making it harder to get to in the warm months) but we were floored with the tasting room, the staff and, of course, the wines. We joined their Wine Circle (wine club) and love it because we get something from them every month. I can't wait for the Pinot Noir shipment.
My favorites: Pinot Noir, Reserve Merlot, Late Harvest Chardonnay
Pellegrini Family Wines: This probably isn't one of Nena's favorites, but that's only because they specialize in "pow" reds. I love their Cabs...both Sauvignon and Franc. They have a great courtyard with little tables...and a back area with tables that overlooks their vines. It would be a great place to host a party.
My favorites: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Encore (spectacular red blend)
Peconic Bay Winery: While the wines are great, Peconic bay is much more casual than the top three...both the atmosphere and the wines themselves. They have tours on weekends and always seem to have live music when we're there. We like to bring a picnic lunch, get a bottle of their Riesling and sit out on the lawn at one of the wooden picnic tables, sipping wine, nibbling on cheese and listening to the music.
My Favorites: Riesling, Local Flavor Red, Local Flavor Merlot
Channing Daughters Winery: Another south fork winery that we're new to...and again, the wines and atmosphere are spectacular. It's well worth the drive...the people that work in the tasting rooms are probably the nicest I've met and they definitely knew their wine.
My Favorites: Cuvee Tropical Chardonnay, Fresh Red Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc