Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's brings extended family together for a day of cooking, eating, and reflecting on what we're grateful for. It's still largely uncommercialized. And it comes at a time of year where those of us who work at wineries are finally able to slow down and relax. Especially after this year's late, long harvest, that's something to be thankful for indeed.
Before diving into specific recommendations, it's worth going over some things that don't change. Try not to stress over your choices. Open a range of wines. Expect each of them to sing with a dish or two, coexist peacefully enough with another, and maybe clash with something. That can be fun, and instructive. Remember, and accept that it's OK, that nothing will pair particularly well with sweet potato casserole or roasted Brussels sprouts. Open a few more wines than you think you'll need, and don't feel bad about having wine leftovers, along with your food. You'll likely learn something, and have fun along the way. Remember that open bottles kept in the fridge should be fine for a week or more. And if you're still stressing after reading all these recommendations, I refer you to the 2016 piece on W. Blake Gray's blog where he set up a simple 5-question quiz to answer the question "is this wine good for Thanksgiving". I'm sure I haven't gone through every possible combination, but I've never gotten any answer other than "yes".
OK, now that I've told you any choice is perfectly fine, it's only fair that I acknowledge my own preferences. After all, there are wines that I tend to steer clear of, like wines that are powerfully tannic (which tend to come off even more so when they're paired with some of the sweeter Thanksgiving dishes), and wines that are high in alcohol (which tend to be fatiguing by the end of what is often a marathon of eating and drinking). But that still leaves you plenty of options. With a traditional turkey dinner, I tend to steer people toward richer whites and rosés, and fruitier reds relatively light in oak and tannin. Plenty of Tablas Creek wines fit these broad criteria, so if you want to stay in the family, you could try anything from Roussanne and Esprit Blanc to Dianthus Rosé to Counoise or Cotes de Tablas. Richer red meat preparations open up a world of Mourvedre-based reds young or old, from Esprit de Tablas to Panoplie to En Gobelet, which just (say it out loud) sounds like something you should be drinking at this time of year.
But I'm just one person. As I've done the last several years, I reached out to our team to ask them what they were planning on drinking this year. This is super fun for me to see, and I'm hoping it will be as much fun for you. One thing I love is that while some will be drinking Tablas Creek, many (including me!) have made other choices. And that's normal. Those of us who work in wine usually do so part because we love its many facets, and there's an amazing variety of wine made around the world. Whether you choose an American wine for this quintessentially American holiday, or celebrate America as a melting pot by choosing wines from elsewhere, I refer you back to Blake Gray's article. You're not wrong.
My team's responses are below, in their own words, in alphabetical order.
Janelle Bartholomew, Wine Club Assistant
I am such a traditionalist that I tend to reach for the same bottles of wine each year. Why fix something that isn’t broken, eh?! In our house we always roast a turkey with all the fixings, and my absolute favorite wines to pair with all the goodies are Tablas Creek Counoise, and Bourboulenc. The Bourboulenc is a newer addition to our table because it is a relatively newer addition to TCV’s portfolio, but it is an absolute stunner! There will be bubbles while playing board games, loads of charcuterie, and lots and lots of laughs! From my family to yours – Happy Holiday!
Charlie Chester, Senior Assistant Tasting Room Manager
This Thanksgiving, we're keeping things simple, delicious, and easygoing. On the menu: a classic turkey and, weather permitting, maybe a BBQ pork loin. To wash it down, we're opting for the Lone Madrone Carbonic Cinsault – a fruity red that plays well with turkey's savory goodness.
If we successfully get to fire up the grill, I plan on serving a 2020 TCV Grenache to complement both entrees. One of my "go-to" wines for its liveliness and versatility
Joining us at the table will be my sister's family and, of course, visiting from Long Island, Tennessee, and the coast of Oregon, my brand-new in-laws from Amber's side. We're looking forward to the laughs, stories, and shared joy that make Thanksgiving special. So, here's to good food, great company, and a couple of wines that promise to make it a Thanksgiving to remember. Cheers!
Amanda Collins, Cellar Assistant
Thanksgiving is one of the most unpredictable holidays in my opinion. I never know where we are going, who’s going to be there, or what’s going to be served until the last few days before. I know that probably puts me in a severe minority here….
That being said, this usually means grabbing wines that can be paired with just about anything! So this year I’m going with our Clairette Blanche and our Counoise. Clairette is light crisp and a bit shy so as to not overwhelm the palate, she’s pretty without being boastful. Then we have counoise that carries its light spice quality on the back of lovely juicy notes that tend to lift the holiday spirits and compliments a variety of dishes! I hope I chose correctly!!! Either way, we are sure to be surrounded by good people, good food, and many fun wines! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Austin Collins, Cellar and Vineyard
After a long hard harvest Thanksgiving will be a welcome reprieve from work madness. The same as every year I believe it important to drink 2023 Beaujolais Nouveau from several producers. It drinks so very fresh and lightens up the heavy thanksgiving dishes. It is also likely that we will open a few bottles of Esprit de Tablas Blanc, vintages yet to be chosen, but I am leaning toward the 2021, as it is very lively right now. Finally, to cap it all off I will be opening a 2014 Domaine Berthet-Bondet Vin Jaune. I love Vin Jaune, especially for this time of year, and especially from Chateau Chalon. Happy Thanksgiving.
Neil Collins, Director of Winemaking
What wines will be on our Thanksgiving table this year?
We will certainly be opening a 2022 Lone Madrone Wirz Riesling, Cienega Valley, planted in 1964, as it was recently released and we're all excited about it, perfect for the day. I also have been saving a bottle of Reyneke Chenin Blanc, a natural wine, Demeter biodynamic certified from South Africa. I am generally not especially a fan of natural wines as they are often a bit funky for me, often tasting like everything I spend my life trying to avoid, but when in the right hands and well-made they can be very special. This bottle was a gift from my friend Tommy Oldre, he konws my taste well so I trust that it will be fun. As always there will be an Esprit Blanc and an Esprit Red present, There will surely be Bristols Cider lurking in the ice box. In a wine focused family it is always fun to see what shows up on the table.
Enjoy a great table of food, wine and great company. When the three align it makes for something truly special!!!!!
Ian Consoli, Director of Marketing
I am looking at a smaller group around the table this year, so I won't open as many bottles as usual. That being the case, I need to make sure they're the good stuff! We'll start with some Champagne from Delamotte. Then, I have a bottle of Condrieu, a Cinsaut from Sandlands, and a few red Burgundies to choose from in my cellar. The Cinsaut is the one I am most curious to try. I feel Cinsaut (like Counoise) should have a lot of success with Thanksgiving dinner.
Terrence Crowe, Tasting Room
Tis the season to be thankful. Thankful for for family, friends and the creek of Tablas. The wines for this years thanksgiving feast are as follows:
The wines are a representation of my ‘thanksgiving’ to an organization that is a true pillar of the community. An authentic, forerunner and leader in a town undergoing much recent change.
Darren Delmore, National Sales Manager
My family will be deep in the oyster lands of West Marin County on the holiday, so I'm packing my last bottle of 2020 Laurent Tribut Chablis AC to accompany some raw Kumamotos if all goes well. Tribut is a classic and hard to find longtime Vineyard Brands small production gem. When I had this vintage a couple months back, it tasted like lemon zest and oyster shells itself, with the ripeness of the year smoothing out the producer's hallmark austerity.
Chelsea Franchi, Senior Assistant Winemaker
After so many jokes that Harvest 2023 was going to end sometime in 2024, I’m incredibly grateful to get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my little family without worrying about breaking up the day with fermentation cap management; we’re finished in the cellar and are slowly assimilating back into society! This year, my husband, daughter and I will be heading to Mexico for some much-needed (and appreciated) post-harvest bonding time. While Mexico does produce wines, I’ll likely be focusing on cervezas and tequila/mezcal based cocktails to pair with the local fare. Wherever and however you are celebrating, I hope your glass is filled with something that elevates the experience and brings immense joy!
Eddie Garcia, Logistics
After a several year hiatus of not traveling for Thanksgiving… this year I’m packing my bags and hitting the road to Phoenix. But, I’m making sure that I’m not leaving empty handed and bringing a taste of Paso with me . I have two wines that I’m excited to share with my family this year. The first is a 2020 Le Cuvier Zinfandel. A solid choice to introduce Paso Zinfandel to a couple family members I found out recently have never tasted a Zin! And my second choice is a 2020 “The Dance” Cabernet Sauvignon from Barton Family Wines. A solid west side Cab. that I’m bringing for the family members who like hearty reds… *my hand is raised*.
Most importantly though taking time to be thankful for the chance in spending time with family, my kids being healthy/happy and being part of the TCV family. Happy Thanksgiving!
Kaitlyn Glynn, Cellar Assistant
This Thanksgiving we will be starting the day with some autumn cocktails before moving on to the wines. First up will be an easy drinking 2022 Grenache Pet Nat from Dreamcote which will pair nicely with the football we will be watching that day! Next we have a lineup of 2021 Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc, the 2021 Hot Blooded Counoise from Barton Family Wines, and the 2021 Lapsus from Benom to enjoy throughout the day and with our feast. Happy Thanksgiving!
Craig Hamm, Assistant Winemaker
This Thanksgiving came up real quick on me. Having just pressed of most of the grapes in the cellar, I haven’t had much time to think about the upcoming holidays. Our Thanksgiving dinner will be held at my brother’s house. I will be opening a 2022 Patelin Rosé as my mother would like to have a glass of a rose with her meal. We opened a few different Turley wines at harvest lunches and they have been amazing, so I will stop by and pick up a bottle of something they are pouring in there tasting room on Vineyard Drive. Nice perk when living in wine country! I will bring a bottle I made from Velo Vineyard Syrah in 2018. There has to be a Grenache on the table so Tablas Creek 2021 Grenache will definitely be there. Cheers and Happy holidays.
Dusty Hannah, Tasting Room
This year I am looking forward to having a traditional type Thanksgiving with some close friends. Friends that are very special to me and because of that I want to share some special bottles. Therefore, I couldn't think of anything better than Tablas Creek.
1997 Tablas Creek Rouge
. I was fortunate enough to land one of these bottles as a gift from Neil Collins, and I even got to sample another bottle a few months ago and it still has plenty of life! Really looking forward to it!
2019 Tablas Creek Counoise
. Before I discovered this wonderful grape, my Thanksgiving wine was a Cru Beaujolais, but Counoise has now taken over as my mainstay for Thanksgiving. It has soft tannins, wonderful notes of red fruit and good acidity, which is something that is needed to pair with my wide range of dishes on my table.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Cheers.
Ray King, Tasting Room
My family and I will enjoy a small traditional Thanksgiving here in Paso Robles. We will be enjoying:
Simple and delicious.
Jordan Lonborg, Viticulturist (sent in from vacation)
A magnum of 2018 Esprit Rouge for the family this year!
Erin Mason, Regenerative Specialist
This is the first Thanksgiving in a long time that I don’t have some specific wine in mind for the table. American wines always feel right for this holiday, though. So if I’m drinking and sharing what I have (and love) that fits the theme…then I’ll be opening a 2021 Desire Lines Massa Vineyard Riesling, a 2021 Sandlands Red Table Wine, and a 2019 Hirsch Vineyard Block 8 Pinot Noir. But I might just be drinking gin and tonics!
Joanna Mohr, Harvest Intern
I’m a last minute everything so my Thanksgiving wines are yet to be bought, but I can’t get enough of our current release Grenache so that will absolutely be enjoyed. I can never choose between pairing turkey with white or red because I think both are equally as fun. I had a great Muscadet Sur Lié the other day that I think will pair great. And a Chinon almost always makes an appearance!
John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
For me the key to Thanksgiving is to keep it simple. Unless you’re hosting a group of wine geeks, getting too caught up in the perfect pairing can seem a bit much with all that’s going on with both food and guests. Most writers will relay the same basic info: choose, low-tannin, moderate-alcohol reds, or richer whites with minimal to no oak. Fortunately, if you’re choosing Tablas Creek wines, there’s no shortage of options! Counoise, Grenache, and Côte de Tablas are great choices for reds, while, Marsanne, Bourboulenc, and Côtes de Tablas Blanc are great white choices. Or maybe an Esprit de Tablas Blanc if you really, really (and I mean really) like your guests. This year however, I stopped by Wines on Main in Templeton, which was just opened by Jennifer Baeza, a long-time Tasting Room host here at Tablas Creek, and picked up a 2018 Zyme Valpolicella from Veneto in Northern Italy as the main wine for the meal. Although I haven’t had this wine, I love Valpolicellas for their medium weight, floral aromas, and subtle fruitiness that is often countered by a touch of bitterness. Let’s see how it turns out!
Gustavo Prieto, Bidynamicist
Like most years I like to start with bubbles and I’m opening a Cremant de Loire Amirault N/V, from a great producer and it is biodynamic!
For the dinner table, as always I love to have one of my favorites whites from Tablas, a 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, a powerful vintage that will go well with all the different flavors. For reds, a pretty 2005 Esprit the Beaucastel from a great vintage year, also we’ll have on the table a great producer from Cornas, France, Alain Voge, 2019 Chapelle Saint-Pierre. This is a 100% Syrah, with beautiful earthy notes, made from biodynamic grown grapes.
Sarah Schultz, Harvest Intern
Getting to see my family is one of the many reasons why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Our Thanksgiving is an all day affair with food, games, and of course, wine. This year as our family from Lakeport, CA, cannot make it, we have decided to drink wines from Lake county that way they are celebrating with us in spirit. We will start the morning with a light breakfast and Boatique Brut Bubbles. (Pomegranate or orange juice optional) Appetizers include my moms signature spinach dip and popping open a bottle of Brassfield 2021 Pinot Gris. Our dinner is a traditional smoked turkey dinner cooked by my dad this year being served with 2017 Writers Block Syrah. Happy Thanksgiving!
And as for me...
Typically, my choice is to open the largest bottle I have to hand at Thanksgiving gatherings. There's usually a story behind a big bottle, and the randomness of "just open it" adds a certain amount of pleasurable discovery to the gathering, as well as the festivity that large bottles bring. But for the first time in more than 15 years, I'm spending Thanksgiving in Vermont where I grew up, and my dad really didn't collect large-format bottles. So we did the best we could by buying a magnum of Domaine Tempier Rosé from our lovely local wine shop Meditrina, and we'll open some of the lovely old Burgundies that my dad laid down. Here are some of the options:
We'll probably want a white as well, and my go-to is Esprit Blanc with some -- but not too much -- age. Maybe the 2012 that has been so pretty recently. We'll probably also break into a dessert wine, because if not with a meal like this, when you have a crowd around the table and aren't expected to do anything beyond play games and watch football, when?!? Beyond that, we'll have to see!
Wherever you are, however you're celebrating, please know that we are thankful for you. May your celebrations be memorable, the wines you open outstanding, and the company even better.