The Long Island Railroad isn’t exactly France’s TGV, but it will get you to a day in wine country in just a little over two hours. That’s Long Island Wine Country, and with nearly 40 wineries—many of them world class—your day among the vines is almost as good as hopping a plane, catching that TGV, then renting a car to go cave-hopping in Burgundy.
Board the 9:15 a.m. train (schedules are subject to change) from Penn Station, change in Ronkonkoma and then disembark in Riverhead. If you call ahead you can have a taxi or car from Lindy’s in Hampton Bays (631-728-0050) waiting for you. For about $15 you and a guest can get from the station to the winery in Jamesport. For $60 an hour, your driver will pick you up, stay with you for the afternoon, then have you back at Riverhead station for your trip back to New York City, all without the hassles of packing, schlepping and checking in at customs.
On a trip to Long Island, the closest thing to being in Burgundy is a visit to the Sherwood House Vineyards. With grapes that began life in Burgundy, a tasting of both the steel- and barrel-fermented Chardonnays will have you conversing in French with winery owner and founder Barbara Smithen. She, her partners and her staff including the very knowledgable Ami will let you in on the finer points of the Chardonnay grape and why wines from Burgundy—and wines from Sherwood House Vineyards’ French winemaker Giles Martin—taste different than the same varieties from California.
Spend time tasting sparkling wines, whites and reds. Sherwood House is noted for Merlot, an earthy wine from Bordeaux and for Cabernet Franc, a wine formerly thought of as a blending grape that has come into its own on Long Island.
Sherwood House is one of the smaller wineries on Long Island, producing about 2,800 cases of wine annually. But that doesn’t stop Smithen and Martin from winning prestigious awards, including North Fork Winery of the Year at the New York International Wine Competition in May 2012.
Sit on one of the sofas in the Tasting Room while sipping your wine, and if it’s cool, enjoy the roaring fire. Or if it’s a gorgeous fall day, explore the renovated 1860s farmhouse and relax with your libation outside on the deck.
You don’t even have to carry any bottles back with you. Sherwood House will ship whatever you’d like. Remember, less is more when you’re traveling … even if it’s just on the LIRR.
In between tastings, you can explore what’s right next-door—the antique and design studio, Material Objects, which brings a bit of modern, yet rustic France, Napa Valley and the Hamptons to Jamesport. Owner and designer John Mazur scours near and far for sophisticated industrial parts that he converts to chic tables, lighting and accent pieces. His upholstered pieces will have you pulling out your checkbook.
Finally, linger over a late lunch or early dinner. With your driver outside, head for either the Jamesport Country Kitchen or Granna, both on Main Street. Don’t forget to have a glass or two of wine; after all, you’re in wine country.
For more information, visit sherwoodhousevineyards.com.