Our first visit to Long Island was a delightful respite from the extreme Texas summer heat. The beaches are beautiful golden sand with the blue Atlantic waves rolling in gently unless the weather is windy or inclement. Fire Island National Seashore is a protected area of shoreline where thte beach is pristine and belongs to nature, so you can walk for miles or lie quietly on the beautiful sand. There is an informative Visitor Center with helpful rangers to answer questions or lead people on hikes. There interesting programs for children as well as adults, with special seasonal nature walks. This beach is popular on holidays, but still not crowded as are the mainland Atlantic beaches.
The New York State Park adjoins the National Seashore, where about twenty miles of shoreline are preserved for nature to abound and people to enjoy. This span of beach is frequently devoid of people and you can hike along to your heart’s content, taking photos only and leaving only footprints, since gathering of shells or other natural elements is not permitted in National Parks. There is even an area for nude beach goers along this sandy spanse.
In the Bay area a long woodland trail is perfect for walking or bicycling. The shoreline along the Bay is a birding paradise. Birders and ornothologists note many migratory species with pleasure passing through here in fall and spring. And many shore birds are here most of the time. In winter it is a treat to see snow covering the vast beaches.
We had assumed Long Island was a summer place with mainly second homes, but we were mistaken. Long Island is 118 miles long and 23 miles wide and over two million permanent residents live there, so you’ll find shopping, industry, hospitals, schools, and everything needed for comfortable living year-round. There are many large farms on the island. And Long Island boasts forty-three wineries and the accompanying vineyards…more than Napa Valley, CA. What a surprise! The wine industry on Long Island does not have as long a history as Napa, however.
We had the opportunity to visit Martha Clara Winery on Long Island’s Riverhead, on the North Fork. The winery was started by the famous baker William Entenmann of Flatbush, Brooklyn, who first purchased the property to breed and race horses. Big E Farm was best known for Entemann’s thoroughbred race horses. You can purchase tickets for private tastings of their reds and whites. Six wines are paired with appropriate snacks, each offering a perfect complement for the specific vintnor selection. Martha Clara Winery produces both the reds and whites, mainly Chardonay and Merlot, with these grape varieties growing in their vineyards nearby. Harvesting is from August to November.
The wine tastings are fun and the hostess gives interesting history of the place. Special parties can be arranged and various evening events are scheduled. You can even take a carriage ride.