The questions one receives as a pourer in the tasting room are never solely isolated to wine. My colleagues and I have to be able to field inquiries regarding the seemingly extraneous details, running the gamut from the brand of pillows on the couches to the ingredients in the Carr’s crackers. There is one non-wine related query though that we are guaranteed to hear at least once a day, and that is simply – “What’s there to do around here?”
So, enough with the formalities – let’s talk North Fork.
I’ve lived on the North Fork for the past fifteen years, and it’s been pretty crazy watching this area transform from a world of “natives” to “transplants.” With the influx of people came not only more traffic, but an explosion of both wineries and restaurants. Whether the locals like it or not, there’s no denying that this region is now a destination. It’s on the radar of hipsters, self-proclaimed wine aficionados, families, and foodies.
Essentially my goal here is to give you an insider’s glimpse into the region, bringing attention not to the wineries and restaurants, but to activities and locations that you most likely will not find in a Yelp review. As a Long Islander, I feel it would be egregious if I failed to start with one of our best assets…our beaches. The North Fork is nestled between the Long Island Sound (to the north) and the Peconic Bay (to the south) and boasts an endless amount of publically accessible waterfront. For this post, I’ll list my top three North Fork beaches to check out pre/post-visit to our tasting rooms. Among other locals my choices may be highly contested, but the culmination of nostalgia and solitude brings to mind the following spots:
New Suffolk Beach (Jackson St., New Suffolk)
Okay, so maybe my bias is heavy on this first one, as I’ve been a resident of New Suffolk since I was 10-years-old. This beach used to be under the radar, but after the past five years – I’m fairly certain the secret is out. Located on the Peconic Bay, you have a view of Robin’s Island in the foreground, and the Hamptons just beyond. The bay is hands down the best place to get a tan and go for a swim, as it provides you with a less rocky terrain. Most notably in the summer you’ll be able to catch the sailboat races every Wednesday night at 6 PM. A box of rose and sailboats? – there’s no better pairing.
Town Beach (Route 48, Southold)
Ladies and gentlemen – this is the beach you go to if you want to see a sunset. Yes, you can technically go to any other beach for that, but the sheer scope that this location provides is unrivaled. Keep in mind that this one is located on the sound, so it’s a tad rockier than the bay. It also provides beach-goers with a meteorological lesson in visibility; on a clear day, Connecticut looks like it’s a stone’s throw away.
The Causeway (Main Rd., East Marion)
This last recommendation is honestly my top spot on the North Fork. The causeway links East Marion to Orient – and I mean, basically it’s Orient’s only attachment to the rest of island. If you’re a frequent passenger on the Cross Sound ferry, then you certainly are no stranger to this strip of roadway. To the south lies a lighthouse affectionately known as “Bug Light,” and to the north is another glimpse at the sound. Although I wouldn’t recommend going for a swim at the causeway, I’d suggest a drive across right at dusk. Note: Access to a convertible would be ideal. Just sayin’.
With the number of beaches (not unlike the number of wineries), the options are dizzying. Asking a local is always in your best interest. Although it may still be somewhat early in the season to journey to the nearest beach, it doesn’t hurt to have your Govinos and boxes of Bridge Lane wine at the ready. Til my next post – I’ll see you in the tasting room!
Tasting Room Captain