In Bayport, Loughlin Vineyards has been a hidden treasure for 25 years. There is a beautiful and relaxing environment that is concealed behind the Meadowcroft and is a place that is rich in history.
John Ellis Roosevelt, the cousin and attorney of Theodore Roosevelt, lived at Meadowcroft in the summer. Meadowcroft was a favorite of President Roosevelt's. The estate's owner, Vinter Barney Loughlin, was born here 85 years ago. He lived in his house behind the main house for many years. The Roosevelt children at Meadowcroft were cared for by Loughlin's father who was a caretaker, and Loughlin's mother was their governess.
From the Roosevelt family, Loughlin purchased the back 15 acres of Meadowcroft in 1948. This land was divided between his farming operation and a pasture for donkeys and cows.
Although he knew nothing about growing grapes or making wine, Loughlin decided to grow grapes in 1985, despite not knowing anything about them. He was told he would not succeed in Sayville by some wineries on Long Island's east end. He grew more enthusiastic about doing it as his vines flourished. The winery expanded as well.
It takes grape vines five years to bear fruit. For Loughlin, still tending his crops in the present, it is a labor of love. Grape harvests from the first year of planting were sold to wineries in the east. After doing this for a few years, he started producing and selling his own wine under the name Loughlin Vineyards. A vineyard in Sayville provided the grapes for the wines, which were then taken to a winery in Cutchogue for processing and bottling there.
Loughlin built a processing building on his winery's property last year. From the grape harvest to the bottle, all Sayville wine is made inside the winery. 1,200 cases of South Bay Breeze wine has been produced at the vineyards and is available now. Family members Loughlin and his three daughters participate in all aspects of wine making for this business.
A journey to Loughlin Vineyards is one of adventure, driving down dusty dirt roads, passing the marsh and Meadowcroft. An old wooden shack near the vineyard sits at the end of a dirt road. I can tell you this is the tasting room. On Saturdays and Sundays the museum is open from 1 - 5 p.m. throughout the year with the exception of Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Those days include the coldest days of winter, and the hottest days of summer.
Loughlin is usually at the small bar during tasting hours where he will pour wine and start a conversation with the customers. Loughlin's tasting room is warm and decorated with mementos and photographs of the winemaker and his life. In addition to growing up on the Meadowcroft and starting a vineyard, he was also a WWII soldier, traveled the world, owned a print shop in town, served as Sayville Fire Chief, and invented fire safety equipment still in use today.
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