When I first visited wine country on Long Island, I knew it’d be no Napa Valley. But that’s about all I knew -- I'm a child of the Midwest turned New Yorker with just about as much wine knowledge as the average sauvignon blanc slurper.
I knew that unlike Napa, which I’ve been lucky enough to experience a few times, there’s certainly not a valley in Long Island’s wine country. There are no sprawling hills covered in vines as far as the eye can see. There isn’t a winery with a touristy tram ride leading to the top, or a winery modeled after a Tuscan castle, or freaking subterranean wine tasting caves. And there’s certainly not a fancy wine train, although I’ve heard the Long Island Railroad commuter line can get pretty boozy.
I also knew that for a bunch of reasons I didn’t understand (and probably more), Long Island wine country has long been overlooked, if not lost in the alcoholic vapors of Napa’s chardonnay-powered surge to international acclaim. So, when I arrived in Southold, a small town near some of the best wineries on the island, I wasn’t wearing the cabernet-tinted spectacles of a Napa loyalist, or sipping the anti-Long Island “haterade” native to the surrounding region. I was merely a guy who likes to drink wine, hoping to do just that.
What I was pleased to discover -- through extensive drinking and more drinking -- is that Long Island wine country is just as great as Napa Valley, and if you think otherwise, well, you’ve probably never been to Long Island wine country, so uh, put a cork in it.
Pour yourself some pinot and allow me to explain.