While the North Fork is well established as the mecca of Long Island wine tours, there are some delicious alternatives for those looking for something different. In fact, your next great glass may be a lot closer than you think.


Conveniently set in centrally located Sayville, Loughlin Vineyards is short on selection — offering only four types of wine, including their popular Merlot and South Bay Blush —but long on personality, as visitors are often served by the colorful owner/operator Barney Loughlin.


As summer traffic winds down, more wine aficionados, such as Victor Doyle, general manager of Pop’s Wine and Spirits in Island Park, are braving New York State Route 27 to sample the unique flavors of the South Fork. It’s easy to avoid the traffic jams of the summer, Doyle says, by waiting to “go a little off season.”


Just after N.Y. 27 merges with Montauk Highway in Water Mill, tasters encounter Duck Walk Vineyard. “They’re a larger winery,” says Doyle, “more generic.” For $4, visitors can sample four wines in Duck Walk’s tasting room from a list of over 20. The well known brand includes dessert wines like their blueberry port, several Merlots and their signature Pinot Grigio.


By driving deeper into the Hamptons, wine-lovers can try Channing Daughters, which has a large selection to choose from and releases a new wine every month. They just released their 2008 Envelope, an “orange” wine — a white wine that is made like a red. “These are things we’re doing that no one else is doing,” explains Channing Daughters general manager Alison Dubin.

While visitors can view sculptures created by Channing Daughters founder Walter Channing strewn about the Bridgehampton winery, don’t expect much in the way of live music or harvesting events. “We just work really, really hard,” says Dubin.

But if the idea of listening to a band while sampling high-quality wines appeals to you, consider stopping by Wolffer Estate, also in Bridgehampton. “They’re respected around the country and around the world,” says Doyle.

In addition to having the critically lauded winemaker Roman Roth on their staff, Wolffer also has weekly wine tasting events that feature live bands and views of the sun setting behind their picturesque vineyards.

“It’s worth the journey,” says Roth.