Long Island AVA

Long Island AVA

41° N


73° W




about this subregion

Nestled on the outstretched shores of New York, the Long Island AVA is a testament to the harmonious marriage of land and sea, underpinning its status as a premier wine region. The Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound wrap around this viticultural haven, providing a climate that's both mild and accommodating, with cool breezes that soften the summer heat and insulate against the winter's edge. This favorable setting allows for an extended growing season, with grapes basking in the extra time to ripen fully, often well into the fall.

Within this coastal AVA, the earth tells a story of variety – sandy loams that whisper of the island’s oceanic past, interspersed with patches of clay that promise vigour and vitality to the vines. This variety of well-draining soils, along with the gentle undulations of the island's topography, becomes the bedrock upon which viticulture thrives. It's a place where farming meets innovation, with vineyards often adopting sustainable practices that highlight their commitment to quality and environmental stewardship.

The grape varieties that call Long Island home are as varied as the soils they spring from. Merlot here takes center stage, while the Cabernets – Sauvignon and Franc – add depth to the region's red wine repertoire. Malbec finds a unique expression, adding diversity to the mix. Among the whites, the crisp Riesling, vibrant Sauvignon Blanc, versatile Chardonnay, and the often overlooked Chenin Blanc, round out the selection, capturing the island’s breezy and bright terroir in each bottle. Together, they form a collage of Long Island’s vinous identity – elegant, nuanced, and ever-evolving.


vinerra illustration

Vineyard Hectares





Discover Terroir

The Long Island American Viticultural Area (AVA) unfolds within the scenic and diverse landscape of the New York wine region. Encompassing both Nassau and Suffolk counties of New York, this AVA extends its reach to include the smaller offshore islands within these coastal counties.

The terrain of the Long Island AVA offers a harmonious blend of rolling hills, fertile plains, and the serenity of the surrounding ocean vistas. Stretching along the eastern tip of Long Island, the AVA's geography is shaped by the presence of the Atlantic Ocean. This proximity to the sea infuses the region with a unique maritime influence, characterized by a temperate climate and the moderation of temperature extremes. As the landscape gently slopes towards the shoreline, vineyards nestle amidst this picturesque scenery, their rows of vines weaving a verdant tapestry against the backdrop of the azure waters.

The smaller offshore islands, an integral part of the Long Island AVA, add another layer of intrigue to the region's landscape. These islands, including Shelter Island, Gardiners Island, and others, contribute to the AVA's maritime identity. The sheltered bays and inlets around these islands create microclimates that influence the vineyards' growing conditions, allowing for the cultivation of a diverse range of grape varieties.

Situated on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York, this AVA benefits from a maritime climate that is both challenging and rewarding for grape cultivation.

Long Island's climate is characterized by its four distinct seasons, each contributing to the unique character of the wines produced here. Winters bring cold temperatures, with snow covering the vineyards, providing insulation for the vines during their dormant period. This hibernation is crucial for their health and vitality.

Spring awakens the vineyards with the promise of renewal. As temperatures rise, tender buds burst forth into vibrant green leaves, and delicate grape blossoms emerge. However, spring also brings the risk of late frosts, requiring vigilant vineyard management to protect the fragile shoots.

Summer in the Long Island AVA is a season of growth and vitality. The region's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean moderates temperatures, providing cooling breezes that temper the heat of the sun. These long daylight hours and the maritime influence allow for a gradual and even ripening of the grapes, resulting in complex flavors and balanced acidity.

Autumn paints the landscape with hues of gold and red, signaling the harvest season. Cooler temperatures return, providing a welcome respite for the grapes as they reach optimal ripeness while preserving their essential acidity. Harvest time is a moment of celebration and anticipation, as winemakers carefully select each cluster, ensuring that the fruit fully captures the essence of the terroir.

The maritime climate of the Long Island AVA, shaped by the Atlantic Ocean, contributes to the production of wines with distinct character and balance. The cooling influence of the sea, the varied microclimates of the region, and the skillful hands of winemakers come together to create wines that are a true reflection of the terroir. The climate, with its nuances and variations, is not just a backdrop but an integral part of the narrative of Long Island's winemaking journey.

The soils of Long Island's AVA are as varied and complex as the wines they help to produce, each type contributing its own distinctive qualities to the vines that thrive in this unique maritime climate.

  1. Haven Loam: Haven Loam is a soil type commonly found throughout Long Island, particularly beneficial for viticulture due to its good drainage and moderate fertility. This soil is often deep and well-structured, providing vines with a stable foundation and sufficient access to nutrients. The balance of clay, silt, and sand in Haven Loam allows it to retain moisture during dry spells while also offering adequate drainage during wetter periods.
  2. Riverhead Sandy Loam: The Riverhead Sandy Loam is characterized by its sandy texture, which ensures excellent drainage, reducing the risk of vine root diseases that can be prevalent in wetter climates. This soil type is typically found in areas closer to the coast and is ideal for white grape varieties that benefit from the reflective properties of sand to enhance ripening and flavor concentration.
  3. Bridgehampton Silt Loam: This fine, silty loam is prevalent in areas that were historically underwater, with a high content of decomposed organic marine matter. Bridgehampton Silt Loam is particularly rich and fertile, requiring careful vineyard management to prevent vines from becoming too vigorous, which can dilute the flavor of the grapes. Its water-retaining capabilities can be an asset during dry conditions, ensuring vines have access to moisture throughout the growing season.
  4. Plymouth Loam: Plymouth Loam is a heavier soil with a higher clay content, found in areas of the AVA with more rolling topography. The water-holding capacity of this soil is higher, which can be beneficial in regulating vine stress and promoting a slow, steady ripening of the fruit. This type of soil tends to warm up slowly in the spring, which can help delay bud break and reduce the risk of damage from late frosts.
  5. Montauk Silt Loam: The Montauk Silt Loam is typically found in the more elevated regions of Long Island. Its fine texture, high in silt and organic material, provides a fertile environment for vine roots. This soil type has a moderate water-holding capacity and provides a good balance of drainage and nutrient retention, contributing to the production of high-quality grapes.
  6. Gravel and Rocky Loam: In certain vineyard sites, especially those on slopes or near the bluffs overlooking the Sound, there's a significant presence of gravel and rocky loam. These coarse, well-draining soils are particularly good for red varietals, encouraging deep rooting and moderating vine vigor for concentrated fruit.

Each soil type across the Long Island AVA offers unique advantages and challenges, with vineyard managers and winemakers alike carefully matching grape varieties to the soils that will best express the desired characteristics of their wines. This intricate tapestry of soils, when coupled with the region’s climate, defines the distinct terroir of the Long Island wine region.


In the Long Island AVA, the vineyards, with their neatly trellised rows, thrive under the watchful eye of the Atlantic, showcasing the physical diversity of the grape varieties that have adapted to this unique maritime environment.

  1. Merlot: Merlot vines exhibit a robust growth in the well-drained soils of Long Island, where they benefit from the moderate climate, achieving a balance of sugar and acidity that is crucial for high-quality fruit. The variety's relatively early ripening schedule aligns perfectly with the extended growing season, avoiding early autumn frosts and making the most of the cooler harvest period.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon: The Cabernet Sauvignon grape requires a bit more care in the variable coastal climate. It thrives in the warmer sites of Long Island, where it can accumulate the heat needed to fully mature. The gravelly soils common to the region offer excellent drainage, essential for this varietal, which is sensitive to excessive moisture and prone to vigor if not properly managed.
  3. Cabernet Franc: Cabernet Franc is well suited to the cool climate of Long Island, ripening more consistently than its kin Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape's adaptability to a range of soil types, from loamy to gravel-based, makes it a reliable choice for local vintners. It benefits from the long growing season, which allows for the slow maturation that can build complexity in the resulting wines.
  4. Malbec: Malbec, while less common in the region, has shown that it can prosper in the microclimates where warmer temperatures prevail. It favors the well-drained soils of Long Island, especially areas with higher solar exposure, to compensate for its late-flowering nature. The grape's thick skin is advantageous in the maritime humidity, providing some natural defense against fungal diseases.
  5. Riesling: Riesling vines flourish in the cooler areas of the AVA, with their preference for a long, slow ripening period satisfied by the temperate fall conditions. These vines require careful site selection, with good air circulation to combat the moist ocean air, and a preference for the slightly more acidic soils which can enhance the grape’s natural vigor and productivity.
  6. Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc in Long Island benefits from the cooler temperatures and the maritime influence, which extend its ripening process and help maintain the grape's natural acidity. The variety prospers in the sandy soils that dominate the region, where the drainage is swift and the reflection of sunlight off the light-colored ground can aid in ripening.
  7. Chardonnay: As a versatile variety, Chardonnay is amenable to the varying conditions of the AVA. It's one of the more adaptable grapes, capable of producing quality fruit in both the cooler and slightly warmer pockets of Long Island. The loamy soils often found here provide the right balance of fertility and drainage for this globally popular varietal.
  8. Chenin Blanc: Chenin Blanc, though less widespread, has shown a liking for Long Island's maritime conditions. Its high acidity is a natural match for the region’s cool climate, and it thrives in the well-aerated soils that help curb its natural vigor. This variety ripens evenly in the consistent climate, with the cooling sea breezes mitigating any sudden spikes in temperatures.

The collective agricultural profile of these grapes is a testament to the versatility and richness of Long Island’s AVA, with each variety finding its niche within the region’s unique environmental tapestry.

Wines from the Long Island AVA are celebrated for their elegance and balance, often marked by a restrained style that reflects the cool, maritime climate of the region. These wines tend to have a medium body, a characteristic that allows the nuanced complexity of their flavors to shine through. Visually, they range from the pale straw hues of the whites to the deeper ruby and garnet tones of the reds, each with a clarity and brightness that speaks to the meticulous winemaking that is a hallmark of the area.

  1. Merlot: Long Island Merlot is often noted for its ripe red fruit aromas, where hints of cherries and berries come to the fore. There's a subtle earthiness lurking beneath the fruit, a nod to the terroir-driven style that defines the region. Oak aging can impart a delicate spice, but the wood is used judiciously, ensuring the grape's character remains the focal point.
  2. Cabernet Franc: The Cabernet Franc wines of Long Island express a more herbaceous profile, often intertwined with floral notes and the suggestion of red fruits. The green bell pepper note, a classic marker of the varietal, is usually present but well integrated, adding complexity rather than dominating the sensory experience.
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon from this AVA tends to exhibit a leaner profile compared to its bolder West Coast cousins. The aromatic spectrum often includes black currants and plums, supported by a frame of refined tannins and a touch of minerality, reflecting the subtle influence of the region's soil and climatic conditions.
  4. Chardonnay: The region’s Chardonnay can vary depending on winemaking choices, from crisp and clean to rich and creamy. Un-oaked versions celebrate the grape’s pure apple and citrus aromas, while barrel-aged examples may offer layers of vanilla, toasted nuts, and a creamier texture. Both styles, however, retain the refreshing acidity that Long Island’s climate ensures.
  5. Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc here is typically vibrant and fresh. It often showcases a spectrum that ranges from zesty citrus to tropical fruits, with an undercurrent of grassy notes. The cool maritime breezes concentrate these lively aromas, resulting in wines that are both intense and focused.
  6. Riesling: Riesling from Long Island reveals a profile that swings from the delicate floral and stone fruit to zesty citrus and apple notes. These wines capture the varietal’s hallmark freshness and can exhibit a tantalizing tension between sweetness and acidity, even in their drier incarnations.
  7. Malbec: While less common, Long Island Malbec wines tend to present a ripe, dark fruit core enveloped in a softer structure than those from regions like Mendoza. They often carry a hint of earthiness and can have a slightly rustic edge, which adds to their charm and complexity.
  8. Chenin Blanc: Chenin Blanc is a rarer find but is known for its versatility, capable of displaying a wide aromatic range from ripe melon and stone fruits to more vibrant citrus and floral notes. These wines capture a snapshot of Long Island’s cooler climate in their refreshing acidity and pure fruit expressions.

Each wine variety from Long Island AVA, in its aromatic and flavor profile, acts as a liquid memoir of the region, articulating the story of a unique terroir that is at once coastal and continental, expressive and restrained.