We’ll always love Long Island’s South Fork―where the Hamptons are―but this fall we’re craving the North Fork’s gourmet comfort food, cozy inns, and off-season price.

Writer Carolynn Carreo

The same attention to detail that makes The North Fork Table and Inn (57225 Main Road, Southold, rates from $275 per night; 631/765-0177 or northforktableandinn.com) an exceptional place to eat also applies to its accommodations. The four upstairs rooms in this old Colonial house, painted in pretty, muted paint colors, offer an ideal combination of elegant and comfortable.

Want to settle in, perhaps for an unforgettable Thanksgiving? The North Fork has an array of vacation rentals (631/899-0613 or corcoran.com). Fall offers great deals on “summer” rentals: A waterfront three-bedroom beach house that runs $18,500 a month in August could be yours for $8,000 or less in November. Other homes might be just $2,000.

Visit the White Flower Farm House (2845 Peconic Lane, Peconic; 631/765-2353 or whiteflowerfarmhouse.com), a furniture, garden, and pretty-things store, for vintage French linens, rustic garden furniture, apothecary bottles, ironstone ceramics, antique wicker baskets, and anything else you might need back home to achieve the laidback, urban-meets-country style of the North Fork. Then step next door to A Taste of the North Fork (2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic; 631/765-8760 or atasteofthenorthfork.com), a small shop showcasing local coffee, vinegars, jellies, jams, and pickles.

For many Manhattanites, a stop at Briermere Farms (4414 Sound Avenue, Riverhead; 631/722-3931 or briermere.com) to pick up one―at least―of its famous fresh-baked pies is a weekly ritual. You’ll see why when you enter the shop by a screened door and see the lattice-topped, crumb-topped, and golden, buttery, double-crust pies stacked on shelves. A blackboard announces the selections. It’s a warm slice of the good life, à la mode.

What began as a personal passion for a few has developed into a respectful winemaking region in recent years. With roughly 50 wine producers and 40 tasting rooms open to the public, there’s a lot for the oenophile to get excited about in North Fork. Long Island Wine Council (longislandwinecouncil.com) provides a complete list and a map of area wineries.

North Fork is perhaps best known as a wine region for its Merlots. Standouts include those by Shinn Estate, Paumanok, and Lenz (shinnestatevineyards.com, paumanok
.com, and lenzwine.com). Castello di Borghese (castellodiborghese.com), the oldest winery in the area, founded in 1973, has received numerous accolades and awards for its wines, including Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Meritage, and Chardonnay.

Published November 2009