The weather didn’t stop them.
A sudden, and needed, July flash rainstorm swept across the North Fork, but Will Lieblein was still outside extolling the virtues of Crassostrea virginica, or common oyster, with the help of Kim Tetrault, the salt-crusted, opinionated and enthusiastic director of special programs at Cornell Cooperative Extension. Tetrault runs the SPAT program (Southold Project in Aquaculture Training), which is charged with growing scallops and oysters and reintroducing them to local waters.
Lieblein and his partner, Lauren Hunter, had stopped by the Cedar Beach facility in Southold as part of a tour organized by their new business, the North Fork Experience.
“It’s a full-immersion tour company,” says Lieblein, a born-and-bred North Forker. As a local, he says he thought he knew the neighborhood, but once he started looking for places to take those who wished to view the North Fork from inside the world of its food and wine production, the landscape changed. “Sometimes it takes a different perspective to see something new in something you know so well,” he adds.
Tours can be customizable and range from six to eight people costing anywhere from $80 to $500 per day.
Regular stops include KK Haspel’s biodynamic farm in Southold and the Old Field Vineyards just across the street. Lunches are provided by the Market natural food store in Greenport, and snacks include local produce and North Fork potato chips.
“The operative word we like to stick to is intimate,'” says Lieblein. “At the end of the day, it’s not just a tour, it’s an experience.”
This means taking his clients out of the tasting rooms and into the fields, and beyond the farm stand and into the greenhouse. “It’s about really understanding what it’s like to be a part of the North Fork,” he says.
More information about the tours can be found at www.thenorthforkexperience.com .