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New York State wine has never been better. I recently judged the New York Wine Classic and discovered a host of great producers across the Empire state from the northern Niagara region near Canada, west to the Finger Lakes, down to the Hudson Valley and of course, east along Long Island’s North Fork and the Hamptons.
If you’re eager to take a wine-soaked vacation across New York, these seven wine country hotels pair well with your favorite bottles.
Nestled along the quieter eastern side of Cayuga Lake, the Inns of Aurora are finely polished jewels in a region light on sophisticated lodging. Four properties (which will soon be five) have been renovated with care and attention to detail, each with its own personality though all evocative of a genteel era gone by. Though Seneca Lake harbors the highest density of wineries, one of the best in the region is a mere five-minute drive from Aurora: Heart & Hands. Making gorgeous, silky Pinot Noir and an impressive Burgundian Chardonnay, bring a bottle back to the porch at the E.B. Morgan House and laze away the afternoon watching the lake. Stroll over to farm-to-table restaurant 1833 Kitchen & Bar for dinner. In the morning, unwind with yoga or a massage at the Schoolhouse activities and fitness center.
Due to its equidistance between the wineries of the Long Island’s North Fork and South Fork, Shelter Island’s The Chequit Inn provides a perfect base for wine tasting. This 1870s Methodist clapboard building was renovated by the Salt Hotel group a few years back, restoring its faded glory into a charming inn. Strategically placed vintage decor and furniture reference the past, while hues of sunflower yellow and rose pink add warmth to the modern gray palette. The full-service restaurant and bar, The Red Maple, serves thick pancakes at brunch and killer cocktails each night. Evenings rocking on the porch with a glass of Long Island Sauvignon Blanc sum up the laid-back vibe of Shelter Island. To access the wineries of the forks, take either the North Ferry from Greenport or the South Ferry to link up to the Hamptons.
Situated in the North Fork of Long Island in downtown Greenport, the American Beech Hotel is the boutique property this wine region has long deserved. Upscale lodging options have been notoriously slim but for a handful of B&Bs, and not everyone wants to break zucchini muffins over breakfast with a stranger. Named for the 75-year-old tree in the center of Greenport Village’s Historic Stirling Square, the hotel is a converted 19th-century horse stable and feels simultaneously quaint and chic. Tropical hues and prints, balanced by original art, decorate the eleven rooms, two of which are two-bedroom apartments. Visit the boutique, filled with flowy resort-ready dresses by designer Alex Vinash before drinks at the buzzy bar in the square. Coastal cuisine accented with local farm produce are on the dinner menu at the adjacent seasonal restaurant.
While this 1950s motel may not inspire confidence from the exterior, a recent refresh by Brooklyn-based design firm Studio Tack has imbued it with energy anew. Inside, an invigorating color palette references the salty grays and deep blues of the Atlantic Ocean, giving pop to the minimalist raw pinewood-clad walls of guest rooms. It boasts the rare waterfront location adjacent to a small rocky beach. After dusting off the sand, head for social hour in the lobby lounge, library or even piano bar; evening repasts are taken in the Halyard, which serves traditional Northeastern fare of seafood like Montauk monkfish and bay scallops. Wineries, meanwhile, are never far away.
Though the South Fork of Long Island, or The Hamptons, is better known for its glitzy inhabitants more than its wineries, two of the best producers in the area are located here: Channing Daughters, led by a curious winemaker willing to push boundaries in an otherwise traditional area more likely filled with Bordeaux and Burgundy drinkers than patrons of orange wines and Lagrein; and Wölffer Estate Vineyard, the rosé refill station of the rich and famous. Enter the Maidstone Hotel, an art- and design-forward spot in East Hampton that reenergized its food and beverage program last year, a perfect complement to its artful, moody rooms. In fact, it’s the only quirky boutique inn, imbued with Scandinavian flair, in the area. A perfect spot for sipping a skin-contact white in front of your cottage with your dog, after a day of traipsing through vineyards.
Also located in the Hamptons, The Topping Rose ups the opulence quotient in its 16 guestrooms and 6 suites, as well as Jean Georges-led dining room. Indeed, it bills itself as the only full-service luxury property in an area rife with palatial beachfront mansions. Close to Southampton, East Hampton and Sag Harbor, the hotel is a brief ride to South Fork wineries and farm stands. Don’t miss dinner in the elegant dining room, where farm-to-table fare draws from the property’s one-acre farm and local farmers and fishermen. The wine list stocks a surprising number of selections under $100. Amenities include spa services, a fitness center, a heated outdoor pool, plus a Land Rover shuttle to permit-only beaches, the latter the ultimate luxury.
Though often overlooked for its wine scene, New York’s Hudson Valley has vastly improved over the last decade. In addition to vineyards, an abundance of breweries, distilleries and cider houses make for great booze-related tourism any weekend of the year. Though most visitors know of the renaissance in the town of Hudson, only those in-the-know skip the overhyped mini-Brooklyn for the up-and-coming waterfront city of Kingston. Finally, a hotel has launched in an old bank, capturing the spirit of uptown’s historic Stockade District: the Hotel Kinsley. In fact, the property comprises four distinct 19th-century buildings encompassing 43 guest rooms. For now, the flagship property at 301 Wall Street is accepting overnight guests as well as diners and imbibers in the swish ground floor restaurant and bar. Remaining buildings will come online throughout this year and next.