I ONCE HAD A SNOBBY FRIEND who called the North Fork of Long Island “the wrong fork.” By which she meant that the South Fork, where the Hamptons are located, was the only place to be.

Well, now I’m a resident of the South Fork and if I had even a trace of a superiority complex, it’s all gone now. Yesterday I had the perfect North Fork afternoon. I envy its farmland, its vineyards, its nurseries. It’s more beautiful and more full of surprises (below) than I realized.

I met a friend who lives on Shelter Island and we took the 10-minute car ferry over to Greenport. We drove through what seemed, by South Fork standards, vast tracts of farmland, to Long Island Perennial Farm in Riverhead. The nursery, down a lane behind an old farmhouse, made me wish I had some small children in tow. There are goats and ducks in a barnyard, and roosters, guinea hens, and peacocks strutting around.

The nursery is open weekends only, and just three months a year (April 20-July 15). It has an interesting and well-priced selection of perennials, including some deer-resistant ones that aren’t easy to find. Naturally I filled a cart.

<-Photo: Debré DeMers

We stopped at a second nursery in Cutchogue, but our focus was shot; it was getting on for cocktail hour. We met up with another friend for a classic North Fork experience: a wine tasting in one of the 40+ vineyards on the North Fork. We chose Croteaux in Southold, which makes only rosé in several varieties, and sat sipping in a gravel-paved garden overlooking rows of grapes. Unlike some of the vineyards, whose parking lots can be filled with tour buses on a Saturday afternoon, Croteaux bans them in a bid to stay low-key. OK with me.

Photo: Debré DeMers

The vineyards all seem to close at 5 or 6PM, so we couldn’t linger as long as we would have liked. Nevertheless, an afternoon to remember, and to do again ASAP.

Photo: Debré DeMers