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Harvesting the North Fork – New York, Long Island’s Wine Country

Harvesting the grapes in the Sannino Vineyard

October is harvest time for grapes as well as apples and pumpkins here on the North Fork of Long Island. This year I decided to take part in the custom wine making program run by Lisa and Anthony Sannino at their Bella Vita vineyard in Cutchogue.  I want Shorecrest to have its own wine and a couple of other BnB owner friends, Mark and Liz Macnish of Andrew’s Legacy in Cutchogue and Leueen who owns Harbor Knoll in Greenport liked the idea too, so we purchased a barrel together. This is such a great idea! A barrel produces 23 cases, 12 bottles to a case, and is such a fun thing to do with friends or family.

Merlot grapes on the vine ready for picking.

The program is a hands on experience, from harvesting the grapes in the Sannino’s own vineyard and learning all about viticulture as we go, through all the processes involved in creating a bottle of wine:  picking, crushing and pressing the grapes,  through the fermentation process  and then blending and bottling.

Two weeks ago, at the end of September and right before a storm was due to come through I went out with some other ‘winemakers in training’ to pick Merlot grapes. The harvest is early this year on the East End of Long Island due to the long hot summer, starting with some 75 degree days in April and ninety degree days in June. Grapes do well in this weather and the sugar content is high. That is how Anthony knows when the grapes are ready to harvest; he measures the sugar content and crushes a few bunches to taste the juice. So delicious, and that is before it became wine! Also delicious was the al fresco lunch that Lisa, with the help of Anthony’s mom and dad, served on their farm house’s porch in the vineyard, but I get ahead of myself.

Underdeveloped grapes are found higher on the vine in more shade

The seed of an unripe grape is green, and reddish in a ripe grape.

The morning for our grape picking experience was perfect; not too hot or chilly, and started with coffee and breakfast on the wrap around deck. I’d already served breakfast to my guests but was glad of an extra ‘cuppa Joe’ before we went off into the vineyard with our pruners and collection baskets to pick the ripe bunches of grapes. I learned where to cut and which ones not to choose. The seed of a ripe grape is reddish and green if it is not yet ripe.

There are also several diseases that can afflict grapes especially fungi and these were to be avoided. The fungus that we saw a little of that day was BotrytisAs an avid gardener, I had yet to meet a fungal disease that I could like, but Botrytis I learned is not all bad.  The fungus gives rise to two different kinds of infections on grapes. The first, grey rot, is the result of consistently wet or humid conditions, and typically results in the loss of the affected bunches. The second, noble rot, occurs when drier conditions follow wetter, and can result in distinctive sweet dessert wines, such as Sauternes. This summer, with such consistently hot weather the few bunches that were infected were of the ‘noble’ kind but as we were picking merlot and not grapes for sweet wines, we had to discard those.

What not to pick - Botrytis blight at 3 o'clock!

We were also careful to avoid the under ripe grapes that were higher on the vine and shaded by more leaves. The grapes we wanted all grow at the lowest level of the vine and were hanging down in giant lush clumps.

We picked for several hours and when our bins were full and also the stomachs of us field hands (after eating as much fresh baked pizza, pulled pork, salad, chicken and pasta as we could, paired of course with equally delicious Bella Vita wine) we headed off to help with the ‘crush’. The baskets of grapes were loaded onto trucks for transportation to the winery where they were weighed, Anthony taking careful notes all along, and then processed through a machine that de-stems them before shooting the crushed up pulp and skins into giant bins ready to begin the first part of the fermentation process.

More on this in the next article, but if this interests you enough to think you would like to make your own wine and enjoy a wonderful North Fork experience in the process, contact me at the Shorecrest for a special discount on a barrel of wine when you are my guest . I will also be putting together special packages over the winter and spring that will include Friday night dinners with your weekend stay at the BnB, wine appreciation classes with food pairing, and guided tours with a customized itinerary based on what there is going on at the time, for my guests. Larger groups might consider renting one of my private water front houses that sleep from 6-8 people and also accept children and in some cases pets. To see more details please visit the Shorecrest Property Management website.

My website now includes a page with maps of all the wineries, restaurants and other amenities in the area. Check my ‘Area Attractions’ page before planning your trip to see all there is to do in this unique part of Long Island.

So keep checking into the blog for updates on how the wine making process is going as well as other events and happenings at the Shorecrest BnB on the North Fork of Long Island’s fabulous East End!


Two weeks ago, at the end of September and right before a storm was due to come through I went out with some other ‘winemakers in training’ to pick Merlot grapes. The harvest is early this year on the East End of Long Island due to the long hot summer, starting with some 75 degree days in April and ninety degree days in June. Grapes do well in this weather and the sugar content is high. That is how Anthony knows when the grapes are ready to harvest; he measures the sugar content and crushes a few bunches to taste the juice. So delicious, and that is before it became wine! Also delicious was the al fresco lunch that Lisa, with the help of Anthony’s mom and dad, served on their farm house’s porch in the vineyard, but I get ahead of myself.

EAT. DRINK. LOCAL.

Long Island Food and Wine Festival.

Chefs and vintners are banding together to get the word out about the area’s delicacies before the tourist season hits full swing.

The Long Island Wine & Food Festival will celebrate a world class wine region! A premier travel destination on the East End of Long Island, the North Fork delivers remarkable cuisine, boutique wineries, craft beer, and quaint accommodations. Festival guests have the opportunity to learn about local flavors, tastes, sights and smells of Long Island’s wine country.

Meet local and celebrity chefs. Enjoy local wines and fare. Experience the rural character of Long Island’s North Fork.

The three-day festival kicks off with an exclusive cocktail reception on June 25th. On Saturday, June 26th, be sure to keep your glass full while experiencing the wines, food, and activities that our 41 wineries will offer. The festival culminates Sunday, June 27th with a Grand Tasting in the historic village of Greenport, a working seaport since the 18th century.

It is sure to be a weekend to remember!

The New York Times had a great article here

See the full schedule here to find out whats going on at the wineries.

UPCOMING EVENTS & WEEKEND ACTIVITIES

Martha Clara Vineyards Events

Community Events
Fri June 18
8-11pm Project SERV Fundraiser
$15 at the door. Admission includes free glass of wine and door prizes. Music all night. info: 631 298 7194 or paulmatthews202@gmail.com

Vineyard Events
Sat 19th
2-5pm Live Music – Hank Stone (Folk/Rock)

Sun 20th
2-5pm Live – Music Alan St Jon(classic rock/pop

Look for us on

facebook.com
twitter.com
Youtube
6025 Sound Ave Riverhead NY   631 298 0075   marthaclaravineyards.com

Last Chance Animal Rescue Vineyard Hike at Palmer Vineyards

Vineyard: Palmer Vineyards
Time: 10:00 AM
Sunday, June 27th
Last Chance Animal Rescue Vineyard Hike

Babe in the Garden

10:00 AM
Join us in the morning for a 2 mile hike with Palmer Vineyards vineyard manager, Josh Carp. Josh will give us a brief vineyard tour while we get a bit of exercise. Don’t forget to bring your favorite fluffy friend.
Donations will be accepted to benefit Last Chance Animal Rescue, a charitable, not-for profit organization created to save the lives of animals. One of the main goals of the foundation is to rescue animals that are located in “KILL” facilities and underwrite the costs of relocating them to “NO KILL” facilities in hopes of finding them a forever family.
Dogs available for adoption will join us as well!

Time: Doors open at 10 AM Hike begins at 10:30, poop bags will be provided
Donation: $15 includes a free mimosa after the hike
For more information: www.palmervineyards.com

UPCOMING EVENTS & WEEKEND ACTIVITIES

Martha Clara Vineyards Events

Community Events
Fri June 18
8-11pm Project SERV Fundraiser
$15 at the door. Admission includes free glass of wine and door prizes. Music all night. info: 631 298 7194 or paulmatthews202@gmail.com

Vineyard Events
Sat 19th
2-5pm Live Music – Hank Stone (Folk/Rock)

Sun 20th
2-5pm Live – Music Alan St Jon(classic rock/pop

Look for us on

facebook.com
twitter.com
Youtube
6025 Sound Ave Riverhead NY   631 298 0075   marthaclaravineyards.com

Last Chance Animal Rescue Vineyard Hike at Palmer Vineyards

Vineyard: Palmer Vineyards
Time: 10:00 AM
Sunday, June 27th
Last Chance Animal Rescue Vineyard Hike

Babe in the Garden

10:00 AM
Join us in the morning for a 2 mile hike with Palmer Vineyards vineyard manager, Josh Carp. Josh will give us a brief vineyard tour while we get a bit of exercise. Don’t forget to bring your favorite fluffy friend.
Donations will be accepted to benefit Last Chance Animal Rescue, a charitable, not-for profit organization created to save the lives of animals. One of the main goals of the foundation is to rescue animals that are located in “KILL” facilities and underwrite the costs of relocating them to “NO KILL” facilities in hopes of finding them a forever family.
Dogs available for adoption will join us as well!

Time: Doors open at 10 AM Hike begins at 10:30, poop bags will be provided
Donation: $15 includes a free mimosa after the hike
For more information: www.palmervineyards.com

Biking the North Fork of Long Island

There are many options for guests of the Shorecrest Bed & Breakfast for biking on the North Fork of Long Island.   In the Southport area alone there are over 57 miles of bike trails that range from 5 to 14 miles in length.  The town of Southport offers a map called seaview trails.  It shows four bike trails including Southold Bay Loop, Orient Loop, Mattituck, and Southold View Loop.  Utilizing their bike trails is a safe, easy, and enjoyable way to enjoy ocean views along the North Fork of Long Island. 

For those of you who are more serious bike riders, make sure to consider Bike Around Long Island.  They feature organized bike rides of up to 42 miles in distance.  These are not rides on bike paths, but are along various highways and roads of Long Island.  This is a very active group and features a variety of rides around the Long Island Region. 

Many guests prefer to bring along their favorite bicycle.  However, there are local bike rentals available for your convenience.  We would be happy to make suggestions for bike rentals during your visit!

Foodies on the North Fork of Long Island

I went to see the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ last night and was inspired to eat, cook, and Blog!  So first things first, I went straight from the movie theatre to the Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck and it was fabulous.  I enjoyed Lamb chops with charred eggplant and tomatoes which was perfectly cooked, and ordered a glass of Primitivo, an Italian red wine.  Just divine!  Their menu changes weekly, but you are sure to always enjoy it.

Upon returning home, I immediately started to prepare breakfast for the next morning.  Being inspired, the first savory entree was a custardy egg, cheese, and Canadian bacon concoction that Julia would have been proud of!  My sweet entrée which I prepared was oven baked French toast with caramelized apples.  Both recipes have to be refrigerated overnight before baking the next morning.  Delicious and convenient when you are a busy Innkeeper!

Breakfast recipes and gardening pages will soon be on the Blog, so stay tuned.

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