It’s happening in tasting rooms and eateries across the North Fork Wine Trail and beyond: Every year, top vineyards ratchet up their reputations among oenophiles while local restaurants and food vendors showcase the imaginations of more and more world-class chefs. Not all residents are thrilled about it, but the North Fork continues its seemingly inevitable transformation into a bona fide four-season resort destination.
The weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day (or if you prefer, “Galentine’s Day,” with a nod to Parks and Recreation) are an excellent time for locals and visitors to explore the North Fork’s ever-expanding bounty of wine and food (and chocolate — so much chocolate).
You may need an extra glass or two of wine to warm your bones, but early February presents a unique opportunity to experience the region at arguably its mellowest time of year.
Check online or call ahead about Valentine’s Day menus and events at your favorite spots. In the meantime, here are some thoroughly opinionated highlights.
Valentine’s Week on the North Fork
The special symbiosis between good wine and good food of the main course variety has been well documented for centuries. But there’s something almost mystical about wine and chocolate — especially around Valentine’s Day.
On Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12, Clovis Point Wines in Jamesport lets visitors get their cacao on with Wine and Chocolate Saturday and Wine and Chocolate Sunday, respectively.
Both events feature sweets from North Fork Chocolate Company paired with specially selected Clovis Point wines. Since the only thing better than wine and chocolate is wine, chocolate and music, Erin Chase performs live on Saturday and Frank Palmeri performs live on Sunday. clovispointwines.com, northforkchocolate.com
Macari Vineyards in Mattituck is consistently one of the most critically acclaimed wineries on the East End. On Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12, the vineyard’s tasting room is teaming up with private dining venture Fyr & Salt for a Valentine’s-themed event.
Three wood-fired special entrees paired with a selection of Macari wines are on the menu. Courses include rosé with roasted local mushrooms, Chardonnay with harissa grilled shrimp, and syrah with lamb arrabiata.
And because nobody wants to go completely un-chocolated on Valentine’s Day weekend, there’s a dessert bar curated by Sweet Fancy LI (which is owned and operated by Macari Wine Educator, Courtney Schaudel) paired with a glass of the vineyard’s Block E dessert wine. macariwines.com, sweetfancyli.com
Chocolate, fine food and good wine come together once again at an unlikely venue this Valentine’s Day weekend. On Friday, February 10, head over to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead for ChocoVino, where you can eat and drink like Poseidon surrounded by all things aquatic.
North Fork mainstay Raphael Vineyards of Peconic supplies the wine pairings for this five-course, chef-inspired tasting menu infused with lots of the sweet stuff. Each course includes wine and a chocolate sampler. longislandaquarium.com, raphaelwine.com
If DIY chocolate — with plenty of help from the experts — is your thing, Rose Hill Vineyards in Mattituck would like to have a word with you.
On Sunday, February 5, Rose Hill is partnering with Disset Chocolate of Cutchogue for Paint Your Valentine’s Heart. Disset’s Chief Chocolatier, Ursula XVII will guide attendees through the process as they paint their own unique designs on dark chocolate hearts filled with wafer malt balls. Each guest also receives a glass of red wine from Rose Hill and a tasting of light snacks.
Maybe the best part of the experience comes after you’ve gone home. The promotional materials for the event make sure to point out that after you’ve painted your chocolate heart, you or a loved one (or a not-so-loved one) get to smash it open. rosehill-vineyards.com, dissetchocolate.com
For those who like the idea of arts and crafts intermingled with wine but would prefer to pass on the chocolate, Chronicle Wines in Peconic has a pair of interesting events lined up. Owned and operated by two female winemakers, Chronicle is a unique amalgam of five separate brands that “tell the stories of Alie Shaper’s and Robin Epperson-McCarthy’s adventures in winemaking and life.”
Chronicle is hosting two Valentine’s-themed events in early February. On Friday, February 3, the winery is presenting Grow the Love, a plant and wine workshop hosted by plant stylist Elissa Capetanakis of Connecticut-based Imaginariums by Elissa. Guests can sample Chronicle’s offerings (the first glass is included) while creating their own grapevine succulent heart wreath adorned with preserved florals.
On Thursday, February 9, Chronicle is offering a Valentine’s-themed painting workshop in its tasting room lounge. The object is to create bespoke cards for a special friend or lover while sipping a little vino.
The event is being led by Melissa Hyatt, a North Fork watercolor artist and illustrator. All materials and a glass of Chronicle wine are included with each reservation. chroniclewines.co, imaginariumsbyelissa.com