Local Staycation: Touring Long Island Wine Country

All too often, East Enders find themselves skipping a fun area event and staying home to avoid the heavy traffic.

To truly enjoy a day immersed in the vines of Long Island Wine Country, not getting behind the wheel is key. So, on a recent June Saturday, I turned to professional car/chauffeur service Main Street Drivers to indulge in the best that the North Fork has to offer at four wineries—McCall, Lieb Cellars, One Woman and the newly opened Kontokosta Winery.

Main Street Drivers picked my party up in Southampton at the appointed time, providing us with a chic black Escalade. Though I’m not one to care much about cars, the Escalade was both spacious and luxurious compared to what I’m used to driving—a VW bug. Though had I asked, Main Street Drivers would have provided a driver to drive my car. The service is available for day trips and tours, as well as for the DWI prevention program. If you’ve driven yourself to an event and find you’ve had too much to drink, a quick phone call will procure a driver ready to take you and your car safely home.

Main Street Drivers set up our afternoon on the North Fork, suggesting vineyards and making tasting reservations based on the kind of day I was hoping to have—quiet, with ample opportunity to sit outdoors and enjoy sipping. The company regularly plans wine tours and other area adventures, including trips off-Island based on customers’ requests.

“If it has to do with a vehicle, we’re involved with it,” says owner James Hirtenstein on the company’s ability to customize trips.

A quick 45-minute trip around Peconic Bay and we were at our first winery, McCall. The vineyard is hidden just off of Route 25, making it easy to pass if you’re not looking for it. Not passing it by is the perk of having someone plan the day for you. Turns out that McCall was voted the 2013 New York Winery of the Year by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and a quick flight of whites proved why. Built into stables, the tasting room is small, bright and airy, and we opted to sit outside and gaze at the rows of vines and the horses poking their heads out of their stalls.

Next on tap was Lieb Cellars Oregon Road. The Cutchogue tasting room hosts a variety of live music sessions on Saturdays, inviting The Big Cheese pop up shop to come and provide some sustenance to the wine tasting adventure. Again, I went with a white flight, eager for the sample of my favorite, the pinot blanc. We grabbed an outdoor seat around one of the many fire tables. Though the warm summer day didn’t necessitate the extra heat, I could see coming back and still enjoying being outdoors on a cooler evening.

One Women Winery was another location suggested by Hirtenstein. The tasting room is a small barn that blends in with the acres of vineyards that are laid out just beyond. There was even a small tractor on-site, providing ample opportunity for picture taking. Before leaving for our final winery, I grabbed a dozen farm fresh eggs, a treat for the too-infrequent North Fork visitor.

Our tour ended in Greenport at Kontokosta Winery, where the flights came all at once on one paddle, allowing easy carrying to the seating along the cliffs overlooking Long Island Sound. As the sun dipped closer to the horizon, I was reminded why someone coined the term “staycation.” Vacating the hubbub of daily life is often necessary, and doing it in a wine country that is under an hour away is perfection. Especially if you don’t have to drive.

For more info on Main Street Drivers and their services, including traveling to Dan’s Taste of Summer weekend events in Bridgehampton July 11–12, visit mainstreetdrivers.com or call 1-888-327-4460.

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