It seems in today’s world that any venue meant for social gathering has two hard and fast rules in common with all of the others — no outside food is allowed in, and what’s offered on hand will cost an arm and a leg. It is a truism for concerts, beaches, baseball games and even most vineyards. Pindar Vineyards is a delightful exception to the rule.
Known for its extensive variety of wines, both types and styles, the 37-year-old family-owned vineyard allows visitors to bring in outside food to accompany a day of wine tasting and sightseeing on Pindar’s 500-acre property. It might not seem like a defining feature, but it is a characteristic that paints a broader picture of warmth, accommodation and overall customer service that has been a staple of the vineyard since Dan Damianos founded Pindar in 1979.
“We’re kind of known as that friendly vineyard,” Melissa Martin, who handles public relations for the vineyard, said in an interview in Pindar’s tasting room in Peconic last week.
“Wine is fun. We take it seriously as well,” Martin said. “We take the winemaking seriously. However, we understand people coming out here to visit, we want them to be more relaxed and enjoy it. I like to educate people on the notes that are in the wine. No one should feel uptight about it or afraid to ask questions.”
Damianos passed away in 2014, though his children remain a major part of the vineyard’s day-to-day operations and continue to foster a welcoming atmosphere.
“Dr. Damianos, that was his thing,” Martin said of his friendly demeanor and lifelong dedication to making customers feel like part of the family. “He was always here and talking to everyone and very personable, so we really want to carry that on.”
Pindar’s wines are also known for their approachability. The vineyard offers more than 20 selections currently, with an emphasis on appealing to wine drinkers of varied experience levels. Edward Lovaas is preparing for his sixth harvest as Pindar’s winemaker.
“We have everything from wines on the sweeter side, wines on the dryer side, sparkling, red wines, dessert wines — so I think it’s pretty easy to say someone coming here for the first time, we make it easy for them to select the tasting they want and find a favorite,” Martin said.
The sheer size of Pindar’s tasting room and outdoor seating areas add to its ability to accommodate groups large and small. Martin said they are welcoming to bridal parties making a stop in a limo to a couple walking in just hoping to try something new, and everything in between.
Martin described what she envisions as a perfect day at Pindar.
“The perfect day at Pindar is doing a tasting, finding your favorite wine, getting bottles and then finding a spot on the deck or on the pavilion or on the grass,” and that’s where allowing outside food, picnic style, sets Pindar apart, she said.
For Martin the wine of choice on said perfect day would be either Pindar Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier for a white or Syrah in a red. Martin added she has a personal passion for finding the perfect pairing of food to go with each wine Pindar has to offer.
The vineyard frequently hosts events from live music, to visits from food trucks if picnicking isn’t appealing, to an upcoming event that will feature a raw bar and seafood for wine club members. In its wine shop location on Main Street in Port Jefferson, Martin has spearheaded a cupcake and wine-pairing event. Tours are also offered on select dates of the vineyards grounds and bottling facility for those interested in the science of wine.
The end of July is the best time to visit Pindar, according to Martin. Every year its sunflower fields bloom around that time, and this year a professional photo booth will be on hand to snap and print keepsakes for the popular annual attraction.
North Shore residents looking for a relaxing, accommodating wine and food experience should keep Pindar Vineyards in mind, for the sights, tastes and feeling.