I love to travel. I don’t have to travel far to enjoy a trip. As a parent, sometimes the only way to break away from the routines of daily life that blend from work to parenting and back 24/7 is to pack up the family, shut the door behind you, and get away. For those of us who live in and around Boston, we are so lucky because within a couple hours or less we can be by the sea (Singing Beach and Wingaersheek are my favorites), on an island (Boston Harbor Islands or Nantucket), in the mountains (Mount Washington Resort or anywhere in Vermont works for me) or even on a vineyard (I have yet to make it to Martha’s Vineyard). The vineyards I’m talking about are the vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork and as I mentioned before it is closer than you think.
I wasn’t able to plan it for this year, but for one year soon I have a plan to have the New York grandmothers (my mom and my husband’s mom) and grandfathers meet us on Long Island for a mother’s day winery, farm, family fun weekend.
How do we get there from here? Isn’t it far?
The Cross Sound Ferry leaves from New London Connecticut, which you can get to by train or by car. It takes about 1 hr. and 45 minutes by car from Boston. Then, you start your vacation on the ferry. The ferry ride is a perfect time to enjoy a little breakfast and coffee, play some card games, chat, or read. The Sea Jet is about a 40 minute ride and the slower ferry which can take cars is only 1 hour and 15 minutes.
How does wine tasting and family time mix?
Well, the wonderful thing about Long Island’s North Fork is that there are plenty of activities to do other than wine tasting. If you have family driving in from New York, you can split into two cars and spend part of the day at the wineries and then meet back up at Harbes Family Farm (which has food, entertainment and a winery all in one). This would be a perfect place for the children and dads to start the day while the moms tour a few wineries. Then everyone can meet back here for a casual lunch or head into Greenport for a sit down affair. If you all come by ferry, I recommend working with the Jo-Anne Perry of Vintage Tours. Actually even if you don’t all come by ferry, I recommend touring the wineries with Jo-Anne Perry. She will work on an itinerary that suits everyone.
Where should we go?
I would start off on a sweet note that everyone can enjoy. The Candyman is just a stone’s throw from the ferry so stop there first. In addition to a plethora of chocolates and confections, his family owned candy making shop has some wonderful vintage chocolate molds displayed and they are still using some of the original equipment that was used for generations before including a huge marble slab table in the back. The store is packed with treats for sweet teeth of every type.
Then, head out to the vineyards. You can find a list of Long Island wineries here to choose from.
I visited a handful on a recent press tour and I definitely recommend that you not miss Kontokosta Winery. The property is large and has a beautiful sprawling lawn that leads out to the sea that the children can frolic on. After a first wine tasting, it is probably a good idea to send the children and their designated parent/chaperones off to Harbes Family Farm to visit the animals, race tractor trikes on the race track, and settle in for an afternoon of high energy fun.
I’m not mentioning much about the wines themselves because you are going to go and taste them, but just know that any of the places I am mentioning all have excellent (many award winning) wines. The best way to learn about wine is to taste them side by side. The best way to learn more about wine is to talk to the wine makers themselves. Like Kontakosta, Bedell Cellars has some wonderful wines and a chic, elegant setting. For something a little more low key, rustic chic, but also with excellent wines check out The Old Field Vineyard and Jamesport Vineyards.
After touring a few vineyards, you can come full circle and meet up with the rest of the family at Harbes Vineyard. This is a great place to stop and enjoy some family time, take a break from wine tastings, soak up some sun, and take it all in. There are plenty of treats and snacks that you can buy at the market stand. You can also stay for lunch, but I recommend packing everyone back into the van or cars and heading over to Green Point for some lunch, a stroll through the tiny town, and a visit to the old wooden merry go round.
If you are a cheese-lover, especially a goat cheese lover, take a side trip to Catapano Dairy Farm, where you can see the goats being milked. You can also stop in the cheese shop to get some briny, creamy, soft or hard goat cheeses to bring home.
Then, just as a little cherry on top for any of the beer drinkers in the group, stop by the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company before you head home.
Day drinking with the family. Are you sure this is a good idea?
Wether I’m with my family or not, when I visit the wineries, I’m not going to get buzzed, or drunk. Of course, the wines, after many tastings will have an effect, but if you just taste and don’t go overboard this is a perfect family outing. I go to learn, to taste, and to restock my wine cabinet with interesting wines that perhaps none of my dinner guests have tried, but most importantly with wines that I have tried and love. If you plan to spend the whole day and spread out the snacks and meals, and family activities well, this will be a memorable Mother’s Day for everyone. On the other hand, if you do it wrong it could be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Save that kind of trip for another day.
Make it a weekend or sleep a home?
Sleeping away from home can be exciting or disastrous. It all depends on the age of your children and how well they do sleeping in new places. I haven’t stayed here, but the two places I have my eye on for lodging are Cove Place Inn and Harborfront Inn at Greenport.