I’ve long desired to explore Long Island’s wine country. During my many years of living in NYC, I’d often hear people talk about taking the train out to Long Island and spending a beautiful, warm day sipping rose and admiring gorgeous coastal vistas. So with a sunny spring weekend on the horizon, a girlfriend and I set out to explore the North Fork of Long Island for a day trip we’d always talked about – but with a twist – we were going to explore the wine country by bicycle.
I quickly learned that Mattituck, Long Island is the perfect home-base for a day of winery “hopping,” and the Long Island Rail Road offers a Saturday morning train from NYC’s Penn Station that arrives around 11:45AM. After making a quick stop in Ronkonkoma to change trains, we pulled into the picturesque Mattituck train station. The journey isn’t super quick – it’s about 2.5 hours – but you’ll quickly realize it was worth the journey. (Hello serenity!)
Thanks to North Forker‘s article titled “Two Do-It-Yourself Long Island Wine Country Bike Tours,” much of the trip planning was a breeze. After a quick call to Dan’s Bike Rental (aka Greenport Bike Rental) about four days prior to our adventure – during which I gave our arrival date, time and location as well as Cheryl’s and my height – we were in business.
Dan makes winery “hopping” by bike incredibly easy, as he delivers the bikes to wherever the client wants – B&Bs, marinas, hotels and in our case, the Mattituck train station. And in line with the laid-back style of the North Fork, there was no need for Dan to meet us upon arrival – he left the bikes at the train station in the morning and sent me a photo of them via text, so we’d know which two were ours. He even included a route map, which happened to be the same route we had planned to take. (We payed Dan the (very reasonable) $30/day fee at the end of the day, when we met him at the Mattituck train station upon our departure.)
Our first stop was Shinn Estate Vineyards. A lovely, sprawling property on Oregon Road, Shinn Estate Vineyards boasts 20 acres of grapevines, a winery, a gorgeous tasting room AND a picturesque “Farmhouse Inn,” a gorgeous, renovated farmhouse available to rent.
Upon arrival, we were greeted graciously and took a seat at the bar in the “al fresco” tasting room. As lunchtime was approaching, we decided to share a cheese plate and mixed olives to accompany our tasting of four wines. Cheryl and I enjoyed a variety of white wines and roses – their reds looked fabulous but we opted to sip lighter wines in celebration of the season.
Lucky for us, owner and viticulturist Barbara Shinn hosts a “vineyard walk” on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30PM. A fascinating stroll, the walk highlights the growing cycle of the vines and discusses the sustainable farming practices of the estate. It’s an interesting experience for both longtime wine lovers and newbies.
After a spectacular few hours at Shinn Estate Vineyards we set out for Lieb Cellars Tasting Room, located just a few miles past Shinn. Unlike Shinn, Lieb Cellars does not offer an entire vineyard/winery experience, but it does offer a lovely tasting room setting.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with an expansive patio and were told that a taco truck would be arriving shortly. (Um, what’s better than vino & tacos??) While there was excellent live music taking place inside, we opted to sit under the sun, sip glasses of vino and enjoy cuisine from Noah’s On The Road, the airstream “mobile restaurant” of Greenport’s much loved Noah’s.
This is a day trip I’ll be talking about for years to come. It ticked SO many of my “fabulous adventure” boxes; gorgeous vistas, great exercise, delicious food & wine and the opportunity to learn something new – all enjoyed under the sun.
Do you have any questions about our adventure, or comments or suggestions if you’ve done it yourself? Please let me know by leaving a comment!