North Fork Wine Country–Family Time or Romance?

I love a good road trip. I’m one of those people for whom the journey is often just as important as the destination. Big Guy doesn’t agree, but that’s a story for another day. When I was invited to visit Long Island’s North Fork Wine Country, I was surprised. First and foremost, I had no idea that Long Island had a wine country. But also? I didn’t realize that the area could be such an easy and pleasant weekend trip from Massachusetts.

It started with a car ride down to New London, CT, with some other attendees. New London also has an Amtrak stop that is right within walking distance of the Cross Sound Ferry, our first destination on the trip. Parking is free, so it’s super convenient whether you want to drive or take the train. It was a gray and rainy day, perfect for pictures, but certainly requiring some hot chocolate (or I guess coffee would be fine) from the Cross Sound Deli. They also have a lovely chocolate coffee cake, which I highly recommend.

 

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We boarded the ferry for a relaxing 80-minute ride across the sound. Ferry tickets are about $54 for a car and one passenger, $15.25 for an adult, and $6.31 for kids under 12 one way. The fees vary slightly due to a “floating” surcharge that is based on the cost of fuel. You can also bring a bike aboard for a small fee if you want to leave the car at home. There are discounts for same day, round-trip tickets, but there’s so much to do that it’s worth it to stay overnight or for the weekend if you can. There is also a high speed passenger ferry that makes the trip in 40 minutes if you’re in a hurry and don’t plan on taking a vehicle.

The view from the ferry is lovely, even on foggy, rainy, gray days.

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After arriving on Long Island, we headed over to the Loft for lunch. Situated above Harbourfront Deli, The Loft is located in the village of Greenport and is within walking distance from a number of B&Bs and hotels. It’s a nice casual sit-down choice with an all-American menu including burgers, pasta, and ribs. You’ll also find some nice salads and sandwiches. There are plenty of seafood options, of course!

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After lunch, off we went to Bedell Cellars Winery. Bedell is over 30 years old and recently earned the honor of being served at the Presidential Inaugural Luncheon.

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The tasting room at Bedell is quite beautiful with art on the walls and some pretty wine displays. We were told that much of the art is from the private collection of owner Michael Lynne (who co-founded New Line Cinema). Just off from the tasting room is a wonderful covered patio for events.

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But if the tasting room is pretty, the grounds are stunning, especially with the moody skies of the day. I could have taken pictures there forever. I’ll have to post more at a later date!

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So of course we tasted plenty of wines… rose’, red, white… I’m going to be honest that I’m no wine connoisseur. I don’t even particularly like wine. Nonetheless, I enjoyed hearing from Winemaker, Richard Olsen-Harbich. He talked a lot about his philosophy on simply allowing the grapes to become the wine they were meant to be, rather than using flavorings and other unnecessary additives. Richard is an interesting guy. If you’d like to hear from him yourself, you can head over to the Bedell Cellars blog where he occasionally muses on Long Island, history, music, and winemaking.

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By this point in the day, I was starting to get a bit droopy. I had gotten up before the sun made the 3-hour trek to New London, crossed the Sound, and visited two local destinations. I was ready to make my way to our B&B. When I found out we were stopping at Wooden Boat Works, I can’t say that I was all that excited. But then there was this…

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And this…

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These boats are gorgeous and the building is an amazing old space with tons of history. The care for restore beautiful wooden boats.

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Plus? Mermaids!P1180385

 

After waving goodbye to the mermaids, we were off to Greenport Village’s historic carousel. The carousel is in a very cool building right on the water. It’s a carnival carousel (designed to be disassembled and moved) and you can catch actually catch a brass ring! This is very rare, so I was pretty disappointed that they didn’t have the ring up while we were riding. It’s probably just as well because I’m pretty competitive.

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The horses on the simpler side, but full of personality.

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It was finally time to get over to our B&B for a quick break and to freshen up before dinner. I stayed at Ruby’s Cove, an eclectic B&B in a lovely old Victorian.

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I grew up in a Victorian home and the attic – which had bats and was terribly scary – had some really cool spaces.  I have always dreamed of staying in a turret room, so when I saw this room, I fell in love.

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There were three of us staying at Ruby’s Cove so I didn’t want to just claim a room first, but my roommates (lovely blogger friends,  Julia and Leah) and I managed to work it all out and I got the room of my dreams. Donna, our host, doesn’t really do a stuffy kind of Victorian. There wasn’t much lace or frills, but there was plenty of personality. Ruby’s Cove is within walking distance to the water, as well as a number of restaurants and shops. Donna also has a fleet of bicycles for guest use.

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Our time at the B&B was short. We just had a few minutes to clean up before heading out to dinner at Kontokosta Winery. How gorgeous is this building?

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And while the outside was rustic coastal charm all the way, the inside was bright and modern. Kontokosta is on a stunning piece of property. If you’re looking for a party venue, this one is just lovely. And, in addition to their award winning wines, they serve some vintage sodas that were delish. I opted for a grape soda.

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Our dinner at Kontokosta was provided by Noah’s of Greenport. All of the food was delicious, but I had a special love for the beer and bacon glazed almonds. I was on a mission to get some to bring home (we’re an almost entirely nut-free household, but I do keep a secret stash for cravings!), but no such luck. They were good enough to inspire me to make a trip back, even if I didn’t already think it was a beautiful place to visit.

That evening, our B&B hosted a little get together, but honestly, I was so tired that I just wanted to hole up in my room and get some work done. It was a wonderful day, but very long!

After a good night sleep, Donna made an amazing breakfast for us with french toast, a veggie egg dish (I don’t do eggs, so I skipped that one) and wonderful local chicken sausages. Mmmm. Little did I know that our next destination also had a breakfast treat waiting!

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Our next (and almost final) stop was Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck. They started us off with freshly made apple cider doughnuts, which I have a particular weakness for.  It was opening day for the farm and it was fun to watch the shelves go from bare spaces to colorful displays. These petunias were gorgeous. I wanted to take one home, but wasn’t sure it would fare well on the long ride home.

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Harbes has a farm stand with plenty of local flowers and produce, but they also have a recreation area for kids. A general admission fee of $12.95 (free for kids under 2) opens up the Barnyard Adventure. Kids (and adults!) can race pedal cars (see below), visit the barnyard animals, and watch the pig races. Other activities such as a hedge maze, pony rides, and hayride are available at an additional cost.

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Harbes Farm also has a winery and parents can zip over to the Wine Barn to grab a glass to enjoy while their kids are frolicking with the sheep and bunnies. Beware hungry sheep…

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Our last stop in North Fork was lunch at Orient by the Sea. This seafood restaurant is within walking distance of the Cross Sound Ferry and is super convenient for a first or last stop on your North Fork journey.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from North Fork, but I was honestly impressed by the beauty of the landscape, the quaint personalities of the villages (especially Greenport), and the range of things to see and do. Adults can spend their time at wine tastings, walking along the waterfront, or shopping at all of the cute shops. Families with kids can enjoy farm activities, beach time, and the Long Island Aquarium (about a half an hour away). It’s a great distance for a weekend trip from the Boston area, so it’s a nice alternative from the same old destinations you’ve been visiting since you were a kid.

 

Disclosure: We were provided transportation, lodging, meals, and admission for the purposes of crafting a review. There was no additional compensation and the opinions in this post are my own.

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