I haven’t had the heart to do a blog entry since my last one, on February 22nd, about Osprey’s Dominion. Shortly after that, and even before the announcement of various closures, we had started to feel uncomfortable with the idea of going out to do a tasting, since it brings you into such close contact with people. Then the wineries closed down.
Since then, they have mostly been either completely closed, or open only for curbside pick-up and/or delivery. We have still been doing our bit for the East End wine economy—our local liquor store has a good stock of local wines, and does free local delivery. A little time with their web site and we are able to amass a good list of North Fork wines for them to deliver. My blog has been useful for this, since I can check to see how we like a particular wine before I order it.
If you haven’t ever tried the search function, it is one of my favorite features of my blog, and I used to use it when we dined out at local restaurants. Just go to the blog and type in the name of the wine or winery in the search box, and up pop all my entries on that winery.
Now, a tentative reopening is starting. Pellegrini, whose wine club we belong to, offers outside seating and will serve you a bottle of wine to go with the snacks they allow you to bring. Some other wineries are doing similar partial openings, so it’s worth checking their web sites to see what they are offering. Croteaux says their outdoor tasting area is open, for tastings and their own snacks. Personally, we are not ready to go anywhere yet, since we are in an at-risk category.
I keep thinking about all the lovely people we have encountered over our years of going to wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries, and worrying about how they are doing during quarantine. Servers are almost always friendly and helpful, happy to make recommendations for selections from the menus. Some of them seem to know only a little more than basic information about each wine, but others are passionate about wine or their specific winery, and can tell you as much as you want to know about the grapes, the methods used in the wine-making process, and what foods would go well with each wine.
I think about a young man who had trained as a chef, and who loved to go into detail with us as we chatted about what dishes to pair with each wine. I remember an older gentleman whom we met at a couple of different places, who had a comic routine to rival the best Catskill comedians. Then there was the very skinny woman who plied us with wine off the tasting menu until we joined her winery’s wine club (we haven’t regretted joining…). Another winery always had at least one server who was from France, doing an internship at the winery. Then, although we generally only visited each place once a year, there were those who actually remembered us—and my notebook.
Ah yes, reactions to my notebook. I remember fondly all the times we were treated to an extra taste or two, based on how serious we were about the wines—and my note-taking. Sometimes I would be asked outright if I wrote for a wine magazine. No, I always replied, and sometimes told them about my blog. But I think anyone who is serious and thoughtful about wine will find kindred spirits (no pun intended) at the wineries.
On our recent drives around the North Fork, we have noticed many restaurants have takeout with curbside delivery, and are improving their outside table availability. For example, at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck you can order food, and then eat it on their outdoor patio. A pleasant day trip out here is still doable. I would always call ahead to any winery or restaurant you were thinking of going to, and pay attention to their requests for masks and social distancing. And one warning—the local towns are being very strict about parking near their beaches, so it may be hard to get near the water, if that is what you want. However, a pleasant hike in Hallock State Park will bring you to a rocky Sound beach, good for walking on and collecting shells. The last time I drove past, they were open.
Farm stands are mostly open, and asparagus is one of those vegetables that is noticeably better when it is fresh. And the best strawberries I have ever had are at Patty’s Berries and Bunches, right across the street from Harbes (same family) on Sound Avenue. They are also open for u-pick berries. Just don’t forget your masks!
I do miss going to the wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries, and look forward to when they are open again.