Monday, September 5, 2016

hidden gem: long island wine country (and mystic, ct)

about a month ago, after a furious googling session to find ideas for LDW, my friend brianna and i came across a site for "long island wine country." previously, my only associations with the area were terrible accents, a few terrible girls whom i shared a dormitory floor with my freshman year of college, and that terrible tv psychic. but i was intrigued, and we booked a tour (with vintage tours) for saturday afternoon. spoiler alert: it was great.

the ferry

first of all, i didn't think it was possible to make it to long island in two and a half hours, but we somehow did? turns out that there's a modern marvel called the cross-sound ferry that takes you from new london, CT to orient point, NY in just over an hour. easy drive down, easy ferry ride over. and our tour guide was waiting at the ferry to whisk us away with a well-air-conditioned van and promises of gratuitous pinot samples.

the wine (and the goats)

we only hit up four of the approximately 30+ wineries on the north and south forks (also new terminology to me), but hoo boy, that was more than enough.

first was sparkling pointe. we kicked things off with a bubbly toast, eavesdropped on the bachelorette party in matching hats sitting next to us, and took in the bizarre-but-fun rio de janeiro-inspired decor:

then, onto mattebella. we ate some bread with brie and a cute little boxed lunch of eggplant panini, orzo, and a chocolate chip cookie at a picnic table while the tastings kept coming. it was at this point that i really felt like i was living my best life (thanks, oprah). fun fact: the name of the winery is a hybrid of the names of the owners' children, matthew and isabella. ugh, so cute i might puke.

the third winery, lenz, was thoroughly "meh" in terms of the samples, but had a fantastic atmosphere with some chill bros covering ellie goulding and such (not pictured, sorry).

AND THEN, our tour guide surprised us with an impromptu stop at a dairy farm that was home to like a billion baby goats, some of which lived on a fake boat:

can you handle it? 'cause i couldn't handle it. it also reminded me that when i went to san francisco about a year ago, we stopped at a winery in sonoma that had a donkey farm. is this a thing? people just like to get blitzed and pet animals or something? anyways, i'm not a feta fan so the cheese tasting was kind of wasted on me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

the final stop was one woman vineyards, where comments about our personal brands abounded. but seriously, we saw the owner/winemaker/grower during our visit, and what a BAMF. you go, one woman. i also posed in front of a tractor because it felt like the right thing to do after four generous pours of various wines:

the treehouse

since the accommodations on long island were insanely expensive, we opted to ferry back and spend the night in mystic, connecticut. before a reallyreally good dinner of blackfish at oyster club, we had cocktails at the restaurant's treehouse bar. i know! i ordered the "painkiller," which had orange and pineapple juice and rum and stuff. ambiance for daaaays:

the b&b

i'd never stayed in a true bed and breakfast before, so i was simultaneously excited and frightened for what awaited me at the mermaid inn in mystic. yo, it was adorable af (save for that creepy mermaid on the piano, but so what, who cares). less than a 10-minute walk into town, too.

our room was refreshingly tasteful and classy, and had bathrobes and a fancy glass pitcher of cognac and chocolates. if only i brought my brandy snifter...

the innkeeper, josephine, was an absolute sweetheart. not only did she put pie and cookies out for guests in the evening, but she made a bomb-ass breakfast the next morning with ~organic~ yogurt, quiche, french toast, and baconbaconbacon.

she also gave us a little goodie bag with apples, more cookies, and bottles of water when we checked out. seriously, this woman is a saint. more importantly, my dreams have now shifted from owning a bakery in santa barbara (a la meryl streep in it's complicated) to owning a b&b in a beach town. how do i own a b&b in a beach town?!

anyways, we rented bikes that morning from the town bookstore and went on a veeery short ride (i was too rusty to be trusted for an extended period of time in the downtown traffic). then i talked to the bookstore dude about how mystic is basically stars hollow from gilmore girls for a while.

after a drive to dubois beach in nearby stonington, it was 11:30am, aka time to start drinking again. enter saltwater farm vineyard, a converted airplane hangar.

and what's a day in mystic without a slice from its most famous pizzeria? somehow, despite having visited the town a handful of times, i'd yet to make a visit to mystic pizza, which inspired the 1988 movie with julia roberts. the wait for a table was insane, so we snagged some seats in the bar area and took it all in. surprisingly, the pizza was delicious, and i devoured it in like 30 seconds, prompting brianna to laugh at my unbridled enthusiasm. i was hungry, man.

even if you aren't a wine aficionado, i highly recommend LI wine country -- and mystic -- for a day or weekend trip. for northeasterners like myself, it's a helluva lot closer than napa and sonoma, but i had just as much fun as i did at the wineries there. cheers!

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