The delicate science of viticulture. The world-renowned art of wine tasting. The serene beauty and memorable experience of a fun day at the vineyard. It is all within your reach when boating the northern waters of the East Coast. Whether you are stocking up your boat for a long cruise, trying out the local vintage or pairing a complimentary wine with your meal you will find outstanding American vineyards and wine tours to suit your taste when visiting these coastal towns. À votre santé!
Chamard Vineyards Clinton, Conn.
Imagine the rustic French countryside nestled in Connecticut, a 40-acre property — half of it with established grapevines. Chamard Vineyards offers guests a peaceful place to spend a sunny afternoon. Just two miles from the Long Island Sound, it is one of the Connecticut Wine Trail vineyards closest to the waterfront, making it easily navigable by boaters. Indulge in wine tastings on the deck, listen to soothing acoustic music, take a wine tour of the property, or enjoy farm-to-table cuisine in the 35-seat, French-inspired bistro. The vineyard began almost 35 years ago with their original Chardonnay vines. Today, Chamard yields 10,000 cases a year, including Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Keep an eye open for the vintage red pick-up truck that appears on each of the vineyard’s bottle labels.
Saltwater Farm Vineyard Stonington, Conn.
Tasting flights take on a whole new meaning here at this beautiful property that was once home to a World War II-era private airport. The original grass airstrip, now surrounded by 15 acres of lush vineyards, leads to a rustic winery in the restored hangar. This site also hosts the famous tasting room, where guests have the opportunity to indulge in a variety of Saltwater Farms’ vintages. You will be surrounded by endless views of the Long Island Sound and the train trestle in the distance while ospreys, egrets and herons wade gracefully in nearby tidal marshes. The former landing strip has become home to countless wedding vow exchanges. All of the small production wine bottles are decorated with the flying egret label. Please note: reservations are required for Saturday tastings.
Macari Vineyards Mattituck, N.Y.
The terroir of Long Island’s North Fork is ideal for viticulture, and Macari knows how to make the most of it. The awardwinning vineyard is a family affair started by Joseph Macari two decades ago on what was a 500-acre potato farm. They are open daily for tastings overlooking the vineyard led by a highly trained Macari Wine Educator. Check ahead for special events, such as tastings straight from the barrel. You can also opt-in for the Cutchogue tasting room, perhaps during one of their delicious food truck events.
The Old Field Vineyards Southold, N.Y.
Tastings at The Old Field are held in a small 1850s barn where you can often find the resident pooch lounging around. The experience here is cozy and focused on the vineyards’ long-standing sustainability practices. Everything is hand-tended while the neighborhood bats, barn swallows, dragonflies, frogs and ladybugs help keep the insect population under control. The family-owned vineyard has perfected the craft premium red, white and sparkling wines. There is a beautiful private beach on the Peconic River that makes for the perfect venue to host weddings. Scheduled wine and cheese pairings are available with a local “cheesemonger” as well.
Newport Vineyards Middletown, R.I.
Aquidneck Island’s microclimate nurtures the prosperity of Newport Vineyards while the vineyard places priority on nurturing its guests. It is a sizeable and popular destination, offering notable tastings and wine tours that take you through every step of an efficient winemaking process. You can play cornhole games on the lawn while jamming to music or hike and birdwatch on the Sakonnet Greenway Trail that connects throughout the vineyard. Enjoy a bite at the café that overlooks the grapevines. Aquidneck Growers’ Market is another fun event held on Saturday mornings. Looking for something different than the 24 wines they offer? Try their Rhody Coyote Hard Apple Cider fermented from delicious Rhode Island apples.
Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard Little Compton, R.I.
This stunning vineyard is owned by the founder of the symbol-based jewelry line, Alex and Ani. The same concept of reverence has crept onto the wine labels: Sacred Rose’, Expedite Happiness and Blessed Blend Red. Then there is the local favorite Rhode Island Red, an awardwinning vintage that pays homage to the domestic rooster originally bred here. Of the 163 acres of property, 33 are cultivated in a climate likened to that of Northwest Spain. There are tours available throughout the day on an hourly basis, live music in the vines, a tasting room and café. The vineyard also hosts special events including a sensory class, where you learn to swirl, sniff, sip and savor like a professional.
Truro Vineyards Truro, Mass.
The Roberts family ekes every last ounce of potential out of this five-acre vineyard that lays on the outermost reaches of Cape Cod. They will tell you how they were looked at with askance when they first talked about creating a vineyard here more than 10 years ago and how their success has become the sweetest of kind. The popular destination welcomes crowds and encourages touring, tasting, and socializing next to the Federal house. The Chinese mulberry planted by a sea captain in 1870 has become a staple of this wonderful vineyard. Blackfish Restaurant’s Crush Pad Food Truck serves up tasty lunch bites while the neat gift shop sells an assortment of fine cheeses.
Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery Cape May, N.J.
There is no waiting until after the tour to taste wines at Hawk Haven. Instead, you taste wines while in the vines. You are led through every step of the winemaking process from the harvest to pressing, fermenting, aging, blending and bottling. The original crush pad is now a large tented cement patio, the perfect place for sipping and conversation. There are barrel tastings for club members with a “wine thief ” pulling samples straight from the barrel. The annual Rootstock Vineyard Concert Series, named after an essential part of the grapevine, originated on the 14-acre vineyard’s stage. Wines include a limited production, artisan collection.
Nassau Valley Vineyards Lewes, Del.
Did you know that the Egyptians invented the wine press? Or that it takes an impressive 16 pounds of fruit to make one gallon of wine? If you really want to learn about wine, head to Nassau Valley. Self-guided tours take you through five galleries that chronicle an 8,000-year history. It is busy on summer weekends, making tastings available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A farmer’s market is held on Sundays from the end of May through September. Host small events at the gallery, grove, crush pad or lawn or book your big event at the event center that accommodates more than 400 guests.
St. Michaels Winery Talbot, Md.
With a line of sweet wines named Gollywobbler available in Red, Pink, White, Black and Peach – you know this winery is going to be tasty! Located in the Old Mill District, the log-canoe inspired tasting room is housed in a historic sewing factory complex. It has a standing tasting bar surrounded by barrel-based tables. Daily tastings start at 11 a.m. with private parties available after hours. Wines, all bearing the abstract schooner on the label, are made from their off-site vineyard grapes as well as those from other vineyards. What does Gollywobbler even mean? It is a light-air sail oftentimes used on canoes. You will likely leave this vineyard with at least one bottle in (each) hand.
Solomons Island Winery Solomons, Md.
The new tasting room of Solomons Island Winery is as close to the waterfront as you can get as it is located on the pier reaching over the Patuxent River. With grapes sourced from many locations, the tasting list is varied. A seven-wine tasting for $10 includes the logo-etched glass as a take home trophy of your tastings. Their tasting notes include dry, sweet, and dessert flavors in the form of Green Apple Riesling, Pineapple Chardonnay, Mango Symphony, Kiwi Pear Sauvignon Blanc and Chocolate Raspberry Port. A Riesling Icewine is made with grapes from Canada pressed while frozen. The
Williamsburg Winery Williamsburg, Va.
Just as Williamsburg equates with Colonial America, so does the winery. The 40 acres of grapevines tangle and twine on Wessex Hundred, a beautiful 300-acre destination with a European country style inn and farm-to-table dining in the Gabriel Archer Tavern and Café Provencal. It allows for a wide range of tour and tasting packages. The Duffeler family does not take the business of winemaking lightly. Extensive study and connections in France preceded the opening of the vineyard. They source grapes both from the estate and from partner growers in the region. You will find a fantastic line of fine reds, whites, dessert and specialty wines including limited releases. Reservation policies for tastings and tours vary. Some vineyards have formal tours while others allow you to enjoy the property on a self-guided tour. Tastings may be walk-in or by reservation, which is often the case for groups of six or more. Rules on bringing food, children or pets also vary — please check the website or call ahead with any questions.