As enviable as summer in the Hamptons can be -- stunning weather, beaches, greenery, produce, and yes, people -- autumn is when the east end of Long Island becomes truly magical.
Travel crowds and traffic die down while the weather remains sultry, and for wine enthusiasts, the fall truly inhabits happy hour.
One of the area's most-adored destinations peaks in October.
Wölffer Estate, a idyllic winery and tasting room in Sagaponack, nestled between Bridgehampton and Wainscott, draws visitors and locals to drink, eat and be merry amid views of 55 acres of perfectly manicured vineyards.
Along with its beloved "Summer in a Bottle" rosé, Wölffer's winemaker and partner, Roman Roth, produces superior chardonnay, riesling, merlot and cabernet franc along with sparkling wines. Wölffer also goes beyond the grape, producing brandy, a jaunty pink gin and a crisp rosé cider pressed from local apples.
Joey Wölffer, who has been at the helm since 2007, is a renaissance woman. (Her late father, Christian Wölffer, launched the winery in 1998.)
Before taking over the family business, Wölffer worked in fashion, and later converted an old bus into a mobile pop-up vintage boutique that still holds court at Wölffer's roadside wine stand during the summer.
She also operates a designer boutique a few miles away in Sag Harbor, and in her little down time, devotes some love to her horses -- she's been riding since she was 6 and is a board member and competitor at the annual Hamptons Classic. (Naturally, Wölffer Estate also houses stables.)
An experience in style
Visiting the Wölffer Estate is an experience in style.
The old farmhouse that's become the tasting room has been meticulously renovated, maintaining original beams and tiles and updated with Wölffer's brand of bohemian chic. Out on the terrace, the vines are bursting with grapes ready for harvest.
"There are very few places left in the Hamptons where you can look upon land that seems to go on forever," muses Joey. "Really, you don't see any houses except for the house I grew up in."
The Wölffer portfolio is expanding, with two Wölffer Kitchen restaurants in Amagansett and Sag Harbor, and next summer, Roth and his wife, Estelita, will host a Wölffer Estates cruise along the Rhone River, from Lyon to Arles.
Barrel-rolling, hay rides and wine
Every fall Wölffer Estate hosts a harvest party, and Joey Wölffer, Roman Roth and their respective families invite the community and visitors to the winery to celebrate the labor and the yield of the growing season.
Wölffer's and Roth's German heritage is on full display, from traditional garb to barrel-rolling contests, and for kids, a petting zoo and hay rides -- all lubricated by wine and cider, of course, paired with a massive outdoor feast.
Last year Wölffer challenged her neighbor, CNN's own Don Lemon, to a barrel race, and other Hamptons neighbors Jimmy Fallon, Donna Karan and Neil Patrick Harris dropped in as well.
This year's harvest party is October 12 -- tickets are available online, if you want a taste of the Wölffer experience yourself.