With a burgeoning wine region comes some creative entrepreneurship. These wine wheels aren’t for describing a wine’s aromas: these wine wheels are for getting people to the wine and enjoying the time between stops. Michael Roche has pioneered the North Fork Wine Wagon, a pedal-powered vehicle that allows guests a tasting experience that lets them ride leisurely, safely and in style.
Roche came up with the idea, he says, when “I was in Budapest with my girlfriend [now wife] and saw group of people on a wagon go by while drinking glasses of beer. I thought ‘why not do it back home?'”
After obtaining permits, Roche designed his wagon and found the right people to bring it to life. “It’s the safest bike out there,” he adds. “It’s got a step rail, it’s not like rounding a horse.”
A group of 8–15 people books ahead of time on Roche’s website and rents out the bike for a full or half day. The tour starts and ends at Osprey’s Dominion in Peconic, where guests can park their cars. As with the Brew Crew, a sober driver/captain is provided for every group, and the driver knows ahead of time if any of the vineyards — currently Bedell Cellars, Pindar, Lenz, Raphael, Osprey’s Dominion, Duckwalk, and Corey Creek — are closed for private events.
The wagon is completely pedal powdered, so a minimum number of riders is needed, and the more riders the better the ride. For smaller groups of 4–6 people, Roche will introduce a smaller wine wagon next spring — the “circle cycle” — one much smaller and more versatile. “And much more nimble and smaller than a car,” he adds.
“I saw this as an opportunity to do something different,” says Roche, whose day job he admits consists of the not so pleasant task of arguing with people most of the day. “It’s so nice to go to a situation where people are smiling all day. Everybody has a good time on the wagon, it’s almost impossible not to.”
Half days are $450 Sunday–Friday and $595 on Saturdays. Full days are $800 Sunday–Friday and $995 on Saturdays. You can book a tour here and find an available date on the calendar. If you have any questions feel free to contact Mike Roche at 516.220.1392 or [email protected].