Reasons to Travel Now, our new series, spotlights the headlines, happenings, and opportunities that prompt us to look for airline tickets every day. We spoke with a local Sag Harbor winery about the other side of the Hamptons as Memorial Day Weekend drew near.
Joey Wölffer acknowledges the Hamptons' image without hesitation. She complained to Travel + Leisure, "I'm weary of people thinking of the Hamptons as a party destination." "This place has a lot. It's true.
Wölffer is the owner of Wölffer Estate, a winery established by her father in 1988 and credited with putting Long Island on the map of the wine industry. Since she took over, Wölffer has experienced several exciting developments; for instance, the estate has entered the distilling business and intends to release a brandy this fall. However, Wölffer is also acutely aware of the winery's connections to the town where it was founded.
She was profoundly ingrained in an aspect of the Hamptons that few people are aware of growing up close to the vineyard. She still resides in Sag Harbor, the nearest village to the estate, "a historic whaling town where all the buildings are in their original state." And that essence is still discernible, despite the growth of tourism and vacation homes in the Hamptons' environs. Wölffer observed that "Sag Harbor still has a true feeling to it." "This is a real, authentic community, and I'm all about authentic - natural things, are what they are.
Sag Harbor is more than just a representation of an "old" way of life in a world of celebrity estates and seasonal travel. One of Long Island's little towns best kept a secret, it is a destination unto itself.
Wölffer declared, "There is so much to do here. Natural areas, beaches, activities, and museums. People have no idea how much history and art are present here. Additionally, you can easily access Bridgehampton from the city via the Long Island Rail Road, allowing you to experience the old Hamptons' sense of community without breaking the budget.
Here are some tips from Joey Wölffer on how to see Sag Harbor like a local.
Locate the ideal getaway beside the water.
There are many inns and bed and breakfasts in the area, but Wölffer recommends Baron's Cove, a freshly rebuilt 67-room hotel with access to the beach and a saltwater pool, for a traditional stay directly on the port.
Despite being "on the sea, which is extremely amazing," it is still a short stroll to the center of the town. It also has a joyful mood, somewhat of a "Dirty Dancing" vibe, according to Wölffer. Celebrities like Truman Capote and Willem, and Elaine de Kooning frequented the original hotel in the 1960s as a posh hangout.
Utilize the restaurants in the area.
Wölffer recommends The Beacon, a seasonal eatery that has been supplying Sag Harbor with food for 20 summers, to visitors who are visiting during the warmer months. It's one of the few waterfront eateries in the area, she claimed. "At sunset, it's a terrific place to enjoy a drink." Other favorites include the kid-friendly LT Burger, which has unusual menu items like a Kobe beef hot dog, and the harbor-view Dockside Bar & Grill, which specializes in seafood. It has a very local crowd and is quite low-key. It also has excellent fish tacos. Her family also runs the Wölffer Kitchen, a restaurant that serves food from regional producers and wine from their farm. "After-beach rosé and oysters at the raw bar," was her advice.
Find some antique treasures.
One of the best places in the Hamptons for vintage shopping and antiquing is Sag Harbor, which Wölffer takes seriously at her store, Joey Wölffer, which features a changing vintage section selected by a local dealer. A vintage goods and industrial materials haven known as Black Swan is one of her favorite must-visit vintage stores. Wölffer also suggests Ruby Beets, which is "a little more modern" and features a vintage collection in addition to bespoke furniture and hand-crafted pottery manufactured in the area. Ruby Beets is located inside a former silent movie theatre.
Take the kids with you.
With lots of stores, playgrounds, and kid-friendly activities, Sag Harbor is one of the region's most family-friendly communities, according to Wölffer. The Wharf Shop, an antique toy shop, and the Sag Harbor Variety Store (also known locally as the Five & Dime), which she describes as "the nicest store in town, especially if you have kids," are two places where kids will enjoy shopping. It is an institution here. With their toys in hand, they will love dressing up at one of the town's many unique children's clothing stores, such as Wölffer's pick Stella & Ruby. This summer, Wölffer's own mobile fashion truck will even start to appear around the city, loaded with infant and kid-friendly clothing.
In the end, you'll want to go to Sag Harbor to enjoy some solitude and fresh sea air. Spend as much time as you can outside, strolling through the charming neighborhoods and going down to the water. You may purchase produce, baked goods, local dairy products, and handcrafted items from Sag Harbor craftsmen at the farmer's market, which Wölffer adds is "usually a nice pastime on the weekend." A lot of time must also be spent on the water. "We have a canoe, but it's sometimes nice to just sit and watch the boats go out from the Breakwater Yacht Club," she said.
You can spend some time in the sun at the Wölffer Estate vineyards in addition to surrounding green areas like North Haven Park and LongHouse Reserve, which has been called "one of the most magnificent art gardens in the country." Before enjoying the winery's most recent offerings, such as the recently released canned versions of their renowned rosé cider or the upcoming red cider and red wine for their Summer in a Bottle series, take a tour (debuting this August).