The expansive picnic grounds are very inviting.
The parting words from our excellent server were, “Next time, bring a picnic!” This was advice which many others seem to have followed, as we noted several groups at picnic tables scattered about the grounds, enjoying bountiful repasts along with glasses of Old Field wine. Since many wineries now request that you not bring outside food, a great reason to visit Old Field is to picnic on the lovely grounds, enjoying the chickens and ducks that wander at will and the pretty scenery, punctuated by historic buildings.
Historic buildings? Yes, some of them date to the 1860s, as the current owners are the sixth generation of the family to farm this land. They are particularly proud of the restored Ice House, which may be reserved for small parties (I would say ten is about the limit.), and which overlooks a pretty pond. Speaking of parties, they were also gearing up to host a wedding—we could just see the tents down near the waterfront—of 250 guests.
We came with friends, and sat on the rustic deck for our tasting. One friend engaged our server in conversation about the farm, learning that it spans 23 acres, with about ten devoted to grapes. She also spoke fondly of the family of owners, who are very much hands-on, in both the field and the winery. At harvest time, she said, she helps hand-harvest the grapes.
Old Field offers eight wines to taste, in varied configurations. You can do Chilled, three whites and a rosé, for $12; Red, four reds for $13; Everyday, four of their lower priced wines, mixed whites and reds, for $10; or Topflight, four of their higher priced wines, again mixed whites and reds, for $13. We decided that the three of us (one opted not to drink) would share one each of the Chilled and Red tastings, which would allow us to sample all of their wares. Our server Irene, who had already become a pal, told us she would divide each taste between two glasses, but I have to say, looking at the size of the pour, that we got a very good deal.
As we sat and sipped and chatted, admiring the pretty chickens—our friends have raised chickens, and so were quite appreciative—we decided that, regardless of the wine, this was a lovely setting in which to spend the nicest day so far of the summer (as one friend kept asserting, even though summer had just started).
One of the tables on the rustic deck.
1. 2016 Mostly Steel Chardonnay $22
The name “Mostly Steel” refers to the fact that they use 10% oaked chardonnay in this wine, which has a green apple scent, and tastes of mineral, salt, and citrus, with just a touch of what our friend characterized as “nut butter.”
2. 2016 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $28
Because this is fermented in neutral—or used—oak barrels, this is not too buttery. I do get the wood taste, however, which you would recognize if you have ever chewed on a pencil. My husband likes it better than I do. We detect some nut smells, as well as lemon. The taste ends with a mild citrus flavor, like Meyer lemons.
3. 2017 Charging Goose Sauvignon Blanc $28
Old Field likes to acknowledge their feathered friends in the names of their wines, hence the name of this one, as well as the image of a goose on the label. This is an unfiltered wine, which means you can see tiny bits of grape floating in the bottle, and also means secondary fermentation may take place in the bottle. I like this the best of the whites. It has a bit of a tingle on the tongue, and tropical fruit tastes, like kiwi and guava and pineapple. Our friend thinks it smells a bit like cider, and I agree, adding that the aroma is a bit funky. It would go well with local bluefish, which I am cooking for dinner.
4. 2016 Cacklin’ Rosé $22
Irene tells us that this is a dry rosé, in the French style, and spends eight hours on the skins of the merlot grapes from which it is made. It doesn’t have much aroma, and the taste is dry, slightly acidic, though sweet at the end. Out friend asserts it has a banana taste. I don’t get that, and offer “tangerine.” Well, they say there are no wrong answers when it comes to the question of what you taste in wine.
5. 2016 Dashing Duck Red Meritage $16
This is their Bordeaux blend, a mixture of merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, and pinot noir. The aroma is sweet, reminding us, we all agree, of a fruit punch. Our friend asserts it recalls the taste of the water her mother would soak raisins in overnight, to plump them. I don’t know about that, but it is certainly a light red, with no body. One of us notes that it is a good red for people who don’t actually like red wine.
6. 2014 Rooster Tail $16
90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc, this has the expected cherry taste and aroma of a merlot, with a slightly funky aroma. We agree to characterize it as a “spaghetti wine.”
An historic photo of the Old Field Ice House is featured on the label of the wine.
7. 2014 Ice House Rescue Cabernet Franc $45
Why the name? They used the proceeds from the sale of this wine to finance the restoration of the ice house. Back before there was refrigeration, people would harvest blocks of ice in the winter and store it, insulated with hay, in ice houses. This is another fairly simple red, slightly fruity, with a touch of nutmeg, plus aromas of dark fruits. It would be okay with lamb chops.
8. 2013 Merlot $28
I detect a scent that it takes me some time to identify, and which I decide is camphor, mixed with cherry. There’s also a touch of something chemical at the end of the taste, though primarily it tastes of black cherry.
9. 2014 Pinot Noir
Extra! Irene notes that, when she has an open bottle of this, she likes to share it, though usually it is only for wine club members. Good move. We like this the best of the reds. It is fairly complex, with some layers of flavor, and pleasant vegetal aromas of asparagus and cut grass.
Reasons to visit: Lovely picnic grounds, where you can bring your own food and purchase wines to drink; if I were bringing a seafood picnic, I’d get the sauvignon blanc to drink; if I were eating cheeses and charcuterie, I might still get that, or maybe the Rooster Tail; generous pour; chickens and ducks to watch running around.
Old Field may be the most photogenic winery on the North Fork.