The Old Field Vineyards


Old Field is a really charming place, with a rustic feel.  In the summer, you can stand on the deck outside the tasting room or sit at a picnic table surrounded by trees and look at the chickens running around (they sometimes have eggs for sale) and the old barn buildings.  The tables are covered with calico tablecloths, decorated with pretty wildflower bouquets. In the winter we have had fascinating conversations with the owner about the history of the farm and the ghosts that sometimes haunt it!  This time we are here with our son after an afternoon on the water.  They offer three tastings:  3 whites for $4, 4 reds for $6, or a mixed tasting of 5 for $7.  The servers know a lot about the wines and are fun to talk with.  Actually, almost every time we come here we end up in interesting conversations, one time with two women who were bicycling from the South Fork, across Shelter Island, and through some of the wineries. The North Fork is great for bicycling, by the way, with good bike routes and mostly level ground.

1) 2009 Chardonnay           $20

This is a mostly steel fermented chard, but some of it spends a short time in oak.  The aroma is lemon and apricot, and the flavor is pleasant, typically chardonnay.

2)  2009 Barrel Chardonnay    $25

This one has been through malolactic fermentation, and is definitely more assertive than the first white.  It is creamy but not too buttery.

3)  Rooster Tail                    $18

We’ve often bought this red by the case, as it is a good table wine and goes well with lots of meats, especially with lamb.  The aroma is berry, and the flavor black cherry/plum.

4)  Cacklin Rose 2009          $18

Chickens–cacklin–Rosey–rose–You should be humming a tune right now if you’re of a certain age.  Anyway, this is a good rose, with aromas of strawberry and watermelon and some melony sweetness, though the finish is rather sharp.

5)  Cabernet Franc 2007       $32

This one is similar to a Pinot, with an aroma of mixed berries and some mineral.  Not a sipping wine, but would be good with food, with enough tannins to stand up to steak.  Good!

6)  2005 Merlot                    $25

The Merlot was aged 24 months in French oak, and does have the typical earthy aroma of North Fork Merlots, though not unpleasantly so.  The flavor is also somewhat earthy, and we decide it would be great with roasted portobello mushrooms for some reason.  The finish is dry.

7)  2004 Merlot                  $22

This one spent 30 months in oak, and the aroma strangely reminds us of hot pepper jelly!  The flavor also has some sweet pepper notes and a bit of mustiness.

Reasons to visit:  really rustic setting–barns!  ducks!  chickens!; Rooster Tail red wine, worth buying by the case for an everyday red; laid-back feeling; sometimes you can buy eggs, too.

Channing Daughters Winery


Okay, so Channing Daughters is not actually a North Fork winery, though they do get some of their grapes from fields on the North Fork, but it is our favorite winery.   In fact, their Scuttlehole Chardonnay is more or less our house white, and is what we served at our daughter’s wedding.  We are here today (after two ferries and a pleasant drive across Shelter Island) because a relative with a house in East Hampton has invited us for a visit, so we intend to get a bottle of wine to bring and to buy a case of Scuttlehole Chard for ourselves.  The tasting room is small but pleasant, and the staff is always very knowledgeable.   You can also check out the interesting sculptures, often made from tree roots, by the owner.  We decide to try their four rosatos (roses), which all cost $20 per bottle.

1)  2011 Rosato di Cabernet Sauvignon

According to our server, all the rosatos spend about 15 minutes on the skins, and then are steel fermented.  They all are drink-now wines, not keepers!  This one is good, with a pleasant cherry/strawberry taste and some nice spiciness to it.

2)  Franconia 2011

This one uses blaufrankish grapes, and would make a nice aperitif wine, with again some cherry flavor and a tart, lemony finish.

3)  Petit Verdot 2011

The aroma reminds us of unripe cantelope, with a flavor reminiscent of pink lemonade–but without much sugar.  There is some complexity.

4)  Lagrein 2011

This is the best of the four, with sweeter notes at the end and a strawberry aroma and flavor.  We buy this one to bring to the party!

Reasons to visit:  you’re on the South Fork but you want to visit a winery; great wines, including our favorite Long Island chardonnay, their Scuttlehole chardonnay; they experiment all the time with new wines and new methods, so it’s fun to explore.

Addendum:  On a recent visit, all the roses bore “sold out” signs, so if you’re interested in buying them I suggest you get there early next year!