You might think that winter wouldn't be an interesting time to visit a winery, but now that the wines are fermented and safely tucked into barrels and tanks, winemakers are busy blending and bottling the wine. A recent trip to the North and South Fork of Long Island (thanks to the New York Wine & Grape Foundation) gave me the chance to chat with local winemakers, tour the cellars and taste barrel samples, as well as try some wines that have been aging in the cellars for a decade—impressive stuff. In the fields, there's some pruning to do, but most of the excitement is in the wineries these days—at least until the first green buds appear on the vines.
Click through the slideshow for a few snapshots from Long Island's wine country, as well as my top wine picks from each winery. Making wine in the cool climate of the North and South Fork isn't easy—for example, grapes have to be very carefully handled so as not to allow the not-quite-ripe seeds and green stems to turn the liquid bitter. But the proximity to the water and sandy soils over well-drained gravel help contribute to terroir that Long Island winemakers are proud to shepherd into the bottle.
Have you visited vineyards in the North Fork or South Fork? Got any favorite Long Island wines?