Single ladies, raise your wine glasses

05/06/2010 12:00 AM |

Guest of honor Allison Stanford enjoys a glass of wine during her recent bachelorette party.

When it comes to partying, bride-to-be Allison Stanford has seen and done it all. The 29-year-old and her girlfriends have been to bachelorette parties in Miami, Newport, R.I., the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and their hometown of Boston.

When it came to planning Ms. Stanford’s – soon-to-be Mrs. Brucklier’s – last hurrah, her bridal party wanted to do something different. Considering their friend’s laid back and classy style, the ladies decided a tasting tour through Long Island Wine Country would be perfect.

There were no phallic-shaped paraphernalia, drinks with scandalous names or men in G-strings when they gathered for Ms. Stanford’s bachelorette party on a warm day in late April. There were just 10 great friends enjoying the scenery while drinking glass after glass of wine at four North Fork wineries.

“She wanted something more low-key,” explained co-maid of honor Michelle McLaughlin. “None of our friends have done this before.”

Ms. Stanford, a kindergarten teacher, said during her day on the North Fork that she had fallen in love with the vineyard scene months back, after a tour through Napa with her fiance, Michael.

“It’s the atmosphere,” she explained while sipping a glass of chardonnay at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, where the ladies had lunch. “The food, the wine, the energy.”

North Fork wine tasting tours have become a popular attraction for bachelorette parties and all-girl outings in the past few years. Wine tour operators say they get calls from women all over and beyond the New York City and Long Island region, including Connecticut and, like Ms. Stanford’s group, Massachusetts. They’re all looking for a relaxing way to enjoy their girlfriends’ company while sipping vino and taking in the lush Long Island scenery.

George Fuchs, who owns Greenport-based North Fork Wine Tours, said the number of groups looking for a ladies’ day out has increased exponentially in the past three years. On average, he said, 95 percent of his callers are women and six out of eight are calling about bachelorette parties. He said the other 5 percent of callers are usually men looking to plan something special for their anniversaries or wives’ birthdays.

“I think, with wine, there is a certain amount of romance, especially for women,” Mr. Fuchs said, adding that most all-female groups are respectful and, for the most part, well-behaved.

Lindsay Hickey, Ms. Stanford’s other maid of honor, said the wine tour appealed to her because Mr. Fuchs was taking care of everything from “soup to nuts.”

For Ms. Stanford’s party, Mr. Fuchs picked the girls up at the Orient Point ferry and brought them to their hotel, the Townsend Manor Inn, to drop off their bags. After visiting four tasting rooms, he later dropped them off at Front Street Station in Greenport for dinner. The crew spent the night at the inn and went home Sunday.

Ms. Hickey said the girls in her group paid $250 each for transportation, lodging and meals. That covered the bride-to-be’s share as well. Ms. Hickey was thankful that Mr. Fuchs let her pay in installments. Having to raise the full amount all at once from eight other girls would not have been easy, she explained.

Tom Ingald, owner of North Fork Trolley, said bachelorette parties are a much smaller percentage of his business, though they have been increasing in number every year for the trolley, especially in the spring as the weather warms up.

North Fork Trolley tours are easily customized. The company can either plan out the whole day or rent the trolley and driver and allow guests to plan their own itineraries.

Mr. Ingald said that parties with older bachelorettes