For her husband’s birthday my friend organized a visit to 3 wineries in Long Island this past Sunday. It was an ideal, cloud free 70 degree day, and we were all excited. We visited Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard, Macari Vineyards and Vineyard 48. Each one had unique elements but in terms of best tasting wines I vote for Macari!
Baiting Hollow was a our first stop. There was a main tasting house with a back porch and yard with picnic tables. The fun feature here was the horse rescue. Since 2007 they’ve rescued former race horses and the like. You can see the stables and visit the horses.
Baiting Hollow had a white dessert wine we all wanted to taste, Cheval Bleu, but unfortunately they were out of it. The riesling was probably the best one out of the 3 I tasted: chardonnay, riesling and a blend of estate merlot and cabernet franc, Red Velvet. There were at least 10 different wines to try and you could also do some shopping for wine related decor.
We hopped on the bus and were off to Macari Vineyards. The name seemed so familiar and I realized that I’ve had their wine at Momofuku Noodle or Ssam Bar. The main building reminded me of wineries in Santa Barbara or Napa, large inside with high ceilings and lots of light. They had a few long counters where you could stand and taste but since we were a group of 10 we were led into a room on the side with our own counter, very nice! We had a flight of 4 wines: Collina Chardonnay, 2009 Chardonnay Estate, 2010 Rose and a 2008 Merlot Estate. I think there were more available to taste but we had a group package.
I’m not a big red wine drinker but the Merlot wasn’t too oaky. I could drink it once in a while. The rose was great and I really enjoyed the Chardonnay Estate. The guy, Rob, who was serving us seemed to have two black eyes but none of us wanted to ask him about it. We started guessing what had happened. I decided that he was a MMA fighter. Around tasting number 3 someone from the group asked and he’s an amateur heavyweight boxer! He had his first match Saturday night and caught a punch.
He was in good spirits though and had plenty of patience for all our questions and even a photo. We purchased 3 cheeses to go with our tasting; gouda, camembert and maybe an herbal goat cheese. Eating the different cheeses with the wines reminded me how much wine can enhance the flavor of food or vice versa. Like most alcohol wine is an acquired taste. I’ve only developed a taste for it in the last few years. Really good wine you just want to hold in your mouth and let your tongue figure out what’s going on, much like food.
Just off the room we were in was a large porch with tables and chairs looking out into the vineyard. There were a few large parties set up, with bottles of wine, sandwiches and chips. One was definitely a bachelorette party and not the last that we would see. Our time there was up and it was off to the last vineyard.
The bus driver told us that Vineyard 48 would be very different from the previous 2 and it was. There was a bouncer who checked our IDs and made sure people didn’t wander into the vineyard. They had free burgers, hot dogs, sausages and grilled corn. Also their menu of 8-10 wines were all available for small tastes or if you gave up all 4 of your coins you could get a full glass. Of course you could buy a bottle or a plastic Halloween pumpkin full of sangria. A DJ kept the 3-4 bachelorette parties happy and there was even a cigar store. With all this going on it was hard to focus on the wine but none really stood out to me. I had a taste of the chardonnay which was fine but I wasn’t compelled to buy a bottle. I drank a few glasses of the peach wine which was closest to a riesling but didn’t taste much like wine.
All in all it was a fun day for me and my palette!