Who goes to the North Fork and doesn’t taste some wine??!? 🙂
When I was planning the loose itinerary for our day trip, I thought that we should include a vineyard stop since, as I have already mentioned too many times, the North Fork is famed for its vineyards. We knew from our previous trip to the Napa Valley in California a couple of years back that we preferred small vineyards that embrace a more hands-on, pared-down approach to winemaking, instead of the more famous and larger vineyards that can sometimes be accompanied by larger crowds and less personal experiences.
Apart from that, we know very little about wines, being interested in almost any varietals and vintages, and we are just out to enjoy ourselves and to learn more in a laidback environment. To that end, we found the perfect spot to take in the scenery, the wine, and the land: The Old Field Vineyard in Southold.
Situated on a plot of land that rolls down to the bay just east of the village of Southold, the vineyard takes its name from archival records of the 1660’s that reference “The Old Field.” The land was originally farmed by Native Americans and then European settlers, who farmed such staple crops as potatoes, and has been an entirely family-run vineyard since the mid 1970’s. In fact, I believe that the land that makes up The Old Field has only been owned and worked by four families since the mid-1600’s. The vineyard’s website does a far better job of summing up the land’s history than I do, so feel free to learn more here. One tidbit I especially liked: The Old Field is the only mother/daughter vineyard/winery team on all of Long Island! (Well, and there was also the tidbit about how the brick icehouse on the property used to serve the old tavern and brothel near the main road. Ahhhh, history.)
So, where was I? Oh right, the wine! We had a fantastic tasting out on the back porch, since the afternoon was too nice to be spent inside the tasting room (itself a converted chicken coop). Our host for the tasting, whose name I sadly did not get, was a great gent who was recently retired and enjoying his role as the sole employee of The Old Field; he not only did the pouring and did a masterful job of describing each of the wines and its particular preparation, but also has a spate of other responsibilities, including affixing the labels to the wine bottles! We tasted both white and red wines, and loved a 2009 Chardonnay and a 2009 (I think) Cabernet Franc. (We enjoyed the Chardonnay so much that it accompanied us to our lobsterfeast at the beach the next day, but I wasn’t taking any pictures of that sloppy chow-down with lobstery fingers, HA.)
Not only is the environment laid-back and welcoming, the grounds themselves are equally casual and “comme çi, comme ça,” if you will. Many people arrived to grab a bottle with friends, and relax on a nearby picnic table, or installed themselves with a picnic lunch by the lake to be rounded out with a bottle of sparkling wine. We also had the company of numerous roaming chickens, a couple of very young chicks, one goose, and three ducks who, naturally, are named Fred, Ethel, and Lucy. Andrew got some great photos of the local fauna – behold:
(Aside: I found myself wondering whether this chicken, being blonde, also had more fun.)
In all, we had a fantastic experience at The Old Field and would recommend it to any of you who are looking for a peaceful, educational, and thoughtful experience with a working vineyard and a family deeply connected to the land. We were able to linger a bit by the pond in the longer afternoon shadows before we ended our day trip, and it was a very worthy end to a quick vacation.
Note to self: do this more often, maybe?