Well summer, it was nice knowing you. We’ve put our bathing beach days and the hot summer sun behind us to make way for this next season on the North Fork that very well may be one of the busiest. Autumn is the time of harvest on the East End, and it has become one of the most notable drivers of tourism. Winemakers and vineyard workers are busy in the field working with Mother Nature in hopes for a bountiful harvest. Pumpkins are rolling out into farm fields, apples are ripe for the picking, and the trees are changing into warm, inviting colors. It is a time to cozy up and still enjoy the outdoors in this now crisper season. From the farmlands, vineyards, and surrounding waters to your plate, there is much to enjoy on the North Fork this fall.
The agriculture industry’s role in tourism and the local economy is not lost on those that live and work on the North Fork. Agritainment has become popular with farms serving as a destination. Whether it be the apple or pumpkin picking, hayrides and mazes, or food trucks and stands with hot cider and warm doughnuts, there is much to enjoy during the harvest season. Douglas Elliman Real Estate licensed associate real estate broker Thomas McCloskey is happy to see that the increased tourism has included local farmers as it helps their bottom line and increases the tourists’ awareness of the agricultural industry. His pro tip: “If you want to avoid traffic, arrive before 11 a.m. and leave after dark on Saturdays and Sundays.”
As an avid fisherman, fall is a great time to be on the water. “Weather permitting, I will spend as much of my free time fishing the fall run as possible,” McCloskey shares, finding balance as fall has traditionally been his most productive time of year for real estate. “As the temperatures cool, the false albacore, striped bass and bluefish start their migration south for winter following all of the smaller baitfish. It is the most active time of year for these fish.”
It has been a great growing season for wine grapes on the North Fork so far, but how harvest will turn out cannot be determined until the last grape is picked. Once the juice is safely in the tank and winemakers have a chance to evaluate their harvest, there will be a better idea of the quality of the 2019 vintage. Pellegrini Vineyards general manager John Larsen says that despite the constant state of flux, they are always excited for harvest season.
Finding it a magical time of year in both the winery and tasting room, Larsen finds a shift from whites enjoyed during the summer, like those that are stainless steel fermented, light, crisp, fruit forward with a bright acidity, to reds. In the fall, dry, fuller bodied reds with supple tannins, like merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc, become more popular.
In a letter to wine club members this past September, Larsen, the vineyard manager, and winemaker Zander Hargrave shared, “As the brix (sugar level per grape) rise in the grapes so does our excitement for another spectacular harvest. Harvest is always a time of great pride and joy at the winery. Pride in seeing all the hard work in the vineyard pay off with high quality fruit and the joy we will all share for years to come drinking the wines which are about to be produced. We have been fortunate this season, compared to other parts of the country, with the beautiful weather.”
As the fast-paced energy of summer fades, beach days begin to dwindle. Though swimming is not at the top of the fall bucket list, the beaches are still enjoyable for a walk. But, as crowds trade in these afternoons for those on farms, seeing what is new and in season is always exciting.
Owner and broker of North Fork Real Estate Inc. Kristen Rishe agrees that it is exciting to see how the farming industry has changed over the last decade. “I love seeing so many different types of farms growing,” she shares. “The seafood industry is also booming with oyster farms. It is great to see the industry coming back and actually growing. Within the last 10 years people are really exploring the farm-to-table concept and enjoying what the North Fork started as, a farming town.”
For those that have chosen to make their first and second homes on the North Fork, farm or vine to table has been a major draw. In addition to providing for our own tables, the farms fuel what is on restaurant menus. You would be hard pressed to find a menu without an assortment of options highlighting local and seasonal produce. Apples, corn, pumpkin, squash, winter greens, and more start to pop up in everything from main dishes to desserts, even cocktails.
In Greenport, chef Noah Schwartz and his eponymous restaurant has a rotating menu throughout the season with small and large plates that often highlight the local bounty from both land and sea. This time of year, he likes to use a lot of corn in different variations.
“I feel like this time of year the corn is really at its best,” Schwartz explains. “It’s sweet and juicy, so we try to highlight its natural flavors in our risotto that has roasted corn and is also cooked in corn stock made from the cobs and finished with corn purée from the kernels. Our take on grilled street corn is also very popular. With chipotle, queso fresco, and micro cilantro, it is sweet, salty and spicy all at the same time.”
Just as harvest season is busy, so is the North Fork real estate market. Agents across the East End have found buying is active year-round and with more visitors making their way out east, fall is an ideal time to check out properties on the market or start showing your home if you are looking to sell.