The Long Island Expressway begins on the far west side of NYC’s Midtown, where eastbound drivers bid farewell to Manhattan’s orderly street-and-avenue grid before heading into the tangled roads and boulevards of Queens. But if you stick to the mighty L.I.E. and follow it 71 miles to its other end, you will find yourself in Riverhead, where the Peconic Bay–home to the world’s most delicious scallops–splits narrow Long Island into two even narrower forks. Here, you can either cut sharply south and then east into the full-of-money Hamptons, or gradually northeast into the North Fork, the heart of Long Island Wine Country. Hardly 5 miles wide, the North Fork is an agriculturally potent strip of land that turns out a constant bounty of seasonal produce–asparagus in the spring, tomatoes and berries in the summer, squash in the fall, root vegetables in the winter, and seemingly everything in between. It also provides challenging but excellent conditions for growing Vitis vinifera, better known as wine grapes. Potatoes were a prominent crop in early farming on the North Fork, and Polish immigrants to America established a strong presence in the area as they filled the need for labor (today, more than a few of them and their children are farm owners or vineyard managers). In 1973, the first vines that would produce commercially viable wine were planted by Alex and Louisa Hargrave in the village of Cutchogue. These vines still produce wine under the Castello di Borghese label, and the Hargrave winemaking tradition continues with Alex and Louisa’s son Zander, Assistant Winemaker at Peconic Bay Winery . The North Fork of Long Island AVA was made official in 1985, after government approval of applications written by Cornell-educated vintner Richard Olsen-Harbich, who remains active as head winemaker at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue. The 50+ Long Island wineries and 3,000+ acres of vineyards producing wine today offer old world, terroir-driven wines, the best of which deserve a place in any discussion of America’s viticultural prowess. Red wines best represent Long Island’s potential, with Merlot as the acknowledged standout. Good Long Island Merlot has deep, dark fruit flavors and a faint but articulate and graceful hint of stewed tomato. No one should overlook Cabernet Franc, which balances intense black pepper notes with ripe plum and licorice. Outside of France’s Loire Valley, the North Fork is one of the world’s great locales for this underrated varietal. Cabernet Sauvignon makes delicious wine in standout vintages, but when the weather is unkind leading up to or during harvest, it can miss the mark. Pinot Noir has a relatively small presence on the North Fork, but a few Long Island wineries such as McCall Vineyards have figured out how to coax delicious Burgundian earthiness and red berry flavors to match out of the persnickety thin-skinned grape. In recent years, bottlings of Malbec, Petit Verdot and other varietals have made an appearance. A young winemaker is currently seeking Kickstarter donations to plant and eventually vinify untested varieties such as Lagrein and Teroldego in the town of Southold, proving that that the spirit of experimentation that is key to any wine region’s growth is alive and well in the North Fork. Of white wines, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc fight for supremacy in the estimation of connoisseurs and customers. No Long Island Chardonnays would be mistaken for massive California behemoths, and the best emphasize pure citrus fruit and mineral flavors. Sauvignon Blancs are made well both in the oaked Bordeaux tradition and the steely, grapefruit-and-grass style. Gewurztraminer has been successful for some Long Island wineries, as has Pinot Gris vinified in the richer Alsatian style. Riesling is widespread on Long Island, though much of it is forgettably off-dry and apparently intended to please a segment of the market rather than compete with the world’s best. While the majority of Long Island wineries are on the North Fork, the South Fork ought not to be ignored by wine pilgrims, as a handful of successful wineries such as Wolffer Estate make their home there. You can reach either destination by car or the Hampton Jitney Bus, as well as the Long Island Railroad. The South Fork wine region was the first to be recognized with the creation of the Hamptons Long Island AVA in 1984. The larger Long Island AVA, which in includes both the North and South Forks as well as most of the rest of Long Island, was established in 2001. As well-heeled New York City residents gain increasing appreciation for local products, it is only reasonable to expect that the skyrocketing quality of Long Island wine will gain more and more recognition. Scroll down for a comprehensive list of Long Island wineries and tasting rooms and click “map view” to access the advanced winery search. Whether you would like to visit a winery that provides beautiful vineyard lodging, has food available to complement its wines, or hosts vineyard weddings, we make it easy to find the best Long Island wine tasting and touring destinations.