Wine Tasting Gone Wild

Only an hour’s drive from New York City, the North Fork of Long Island sprawls across the horizon like a pastoral wonderland. As you roll past roadside farm stands, offering fresh wildflowers and luscious heirloom tomatoes, you may notice a stretch limousine that’s been trailing you along Route 25. You might imagine that it’s inhabited by a group of upper-crusty socialites, headed toward their summertime bungalow. But when a hand fitted with extralong hot-pink acrylic nails emerges from the limo’s sunroof, waving a bridal veil or perhaps an inflatable penis, you realize just how wrong you are.

Today’s New York Times reports on the bachelorette parties and similar good-times gangs that have been frequenting the East End wineries in recent years. These folks often slam tastes of Long Island’s award-winning Merlots and Cabernet Francs like kamikaze shots.

As a local girl who grew up in a home where Coors Light and Zima were the drinks of choice at family parties, I’ve never been surprised that some of my fellow Long Islanders blur the line between a wine-tasting tour and a bar crawl. I’ve always loved the casual vibe of the North Fork tasting rooms, though I’ve never witnessed anything as extreme as “the bachelorette parties that often culminate in tabletop dances, to the horror of nearby oenophiles sniffing or sipping the local chardonnays.” Man, there’s no place like home.

Nowadays, many wineries in Long Island, and also across the country in Napa Valley, are adopting “No Limo” policies to prohibit party animals from entering their tasting rooms. For those heading to the area and hoping for a serene tasting experience, it’s best to call the wineries ahead and make weekday appointments. If you’re not sure about the best tasting rooms to visit, Chowhounders offer a long list of favorite vineyards and local eateries to soak up the vino along the way.