Ownroot Collective x Post & Vine

If you’re not a member of Terra Jane’s Ownroot Collective you are missing out. I have attended 3 (virtual) tasting events so far and I’ve already discovered so many new and delicious wines that were living right under my nose for so long and I had no idea. Ownroot is a wine club that features amazing and talented winemakers and their own, small labels. Most of these producers make wine for a larger brand, and Terra aims to highlight the creator behind the big label by showcasing their personal side projects.

Last Monday I had the privilege of attending the tasting featuring Rebekah Wineburg (yes that’s really her last name) as she guided us through her label Post & Vine. Rebekah is the winemaker for Napa Valley biodynamic and organic estate Quintessa. Quintessa is iconic for their one red wine that is a blend masterpiece of many little lots. They also make an age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc called Illumination that truly embodies its namesake.

A graduate of the UC Davis Viticulture & Enology master’s program, Wineburg follows a minimal intervention method when it comes to Post & Vine. She doesn’t add tannin or filter her red wines. She encourages a native fermentation of her wines and closely monitors temperature and quite literally listens to her fermentations to help them along the process.

Wineburg started Post & Vine in 2012 to further explore her creativity but more importantly bring attention and value to the unique and rich vineyard sites of California. She crafts her wines to express place – from the sandy, deep soils of Contra Costa County where the old-vine Carignane survived prohibition, to the Mendocino Testa Vineyard that was farmed by Italian families for generations. What’s so incredible about the Carignane is that these 100+ year old vines are ownrooted, meaning they are not grafted to a rootstock. This is very uncommon in modern viticulture because of the Phylloxera epidemic of the 1800s. However, Phylloxera cannot move in sandy soils which protects these vines from turmoil. These are the kinds of fascinating characteristics Wineburg aims to capture in the wines she creates. These same vines that survived Prohibition are also immune to the biggest pest threat to grapevine roots in the world and that is truly something to share. The entire point of making wine is to tell a story about the people who grew it and the place where it grew, and Wineburg succeeds in this with every wine she makes.

The group tasted and discussed her 2021 Rosé of Carignane, 2019 Contra Costa Carignane, and the Testa Vineyard 2018 Old Vine Field Blend in that order. For $19 the rosé is a steal. High in acid and flavor and lower in alcohol, you can easily drink this on any spring or summer day with or without food and have absolutely no headache the next day. The wine has a hint of minerality and a touch of grapefruit and watermelon on the palate. There is no residual sugar left in this wine or any heavy sweetness on the palate that can often come with a California rosé.

My favorite was the 2019 Carignane. This wine was also fermented to dryness but had a slight, delicate sweetness on the palate reminiscent of sundried red fruit, such as a date or prune. On the nose, hints of rich plum and dark red fruit and a hint of earthiness. The palate was fruity but held great acidity. For someone looking to venture away from the big Napa style but still wants a rich red wine I highly suggest the Post & Vine Carignane or Field Blend.  

Acquire Post & Vine directly through Rebekah’s site, through an Ownroot Collective membership, or at Jeffries General and Backroom Wines in downtown Napa.

What it’s like to work a harvest in Napa Valley

When I graduated from the Viticulture & Enology program at UC Davis, my degree had prepared me for what to expect when working a harvest. I also had several friends who had worked in production post-grad so I had a pretty good understanding of what a harvest internship would entail. However, in my 3 years in Napa I’ve worked with many interns who didn’t study wine but decided to pivot careers and come work in the wine industry. Many of them have told me that there is little to no literature on the internet describing what working crush would actually be like. It’s already intimidating changing your whole career path, but especially so if you’re going in blind. There should be more out there about what harvest is like for people who aren’t yet connected in the wine industry, so hopefully this helps paint a picture. Note that this is based off my personal experience and perspective.

You get to make the wine

Before I get into the nitty gritty, it’s important to know that every player is crucial to making sure the wine gets made. Wineries need interns to help make that happen and Napa Valley makes so much wine that it would literally be impossible without harvest workers. Even if you are ultimately interested in front of house/DTC, the hands-on experience you will gain from working a harvest will set you apart and allow you to talk about the wine on a different level when selling it. From pressing the fruit to barreling it down when the fermentation has gone dry, everyone plays a part in the winemaking. It’s amazing to see that hard work get bottled and then to be able to share that with your friends and family and tell them that you made it.

Wine production is probably the least glamorous aspect of the wine industry. It’s quite messy and you will likely never leave a day of work without having wine stains on your clothes, hands, or even face, but that’s the fun of it – it’s one of the most rewarding things you can accomplish. How many other jobs are there that require you to use your hands and make something from the earth?

It’s physically demanding but extremely rewarding

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, working a harvest in the cellar is extremely physically demanding. You will be expected to drag hoses, lift buckets of grapes and wine of up to 70 pounds, push heavy pumps around, put oak barrels onto racks, dig pomace out of tanks with heavy metal rakes, power-wash for hours, get inside presses and clean them out, among other tasks. You might also be working outside for many hours a day and Napa can get hot in the late summer.

It will be your life for 3-4 months but the adrenaline will fuel you

A typical intern day for a medium to large scale winery starts at 5:30/6am and goes until 4 or 5pm (or later) if you’re on the day shift. Most wineries will have a night crew that comes in during the afternoon and leaves later in the night or sometimes early morning. You’re working 6 or 7 days a week. The moral of the story is you’ll be waking up really early and going to bed pretty much right when you get home. You’re at the mercy of what your supervisor needs of you and there’s no hard cut off for when your day is over. You’re pretty much dedicating your entire life to the grapes during crush and probably won’t have a life outside of work for a few months. I call it the harvest bubble and it’s actually kind of cool because everyone in the bubble is in the same mindset of working extremely hard to accomplish a common goal. Waking up to your 5 am alarm is the hardest part – once you get to work the energy can be so upbeat and exciting that it motivates you to get through the day, especially when the music in the cellar is going. You will also catch some of the most beautiful sunrises on your way in and that always made the early mornings special for me.

A Saint Helena harvest morning, 6:30 am

Depending on what kind of winery you work for, you might have a one month long harvest or a four month long one. If you work at a sparkling house like Mumm, Schramsberg, or Chandon, your harvest could be 1 – 2 months long and will likely be during August to early or mid September because grapes for sparkling wine are harvested earlier. This might be ideal if you would like to get harvest experience but you’re still a student and school is starting back up in September. Wineries with larger scale production start with the white grapes in August/September then process red fruit up until late October. I actually recommend this experience because you get a lot of hands-on work with different varietals, exposure to many winemaking techniques, and more time to absorb the information.

Get ready to clean

Common winery practices (that you will learn on site) are driving a forklift and dumping fruit bins into presses, pumpovers, punchdowns, rack and returns, barrel downs, nutrient additions, inoculations, and others. The biggest winery practice across the whole industry is cleaning, and lots of it. This includes sanitizing tanks and equipment, power washing (macrobins, presses, the crush pad, honestly power washing pretty much anything and everything), squeegeeing, and lots of floor spraying. Maintaining a clean and sanitized winery is essential for producing high quality wine and is equally as important as any of the winemaking practices listed above.

The takeaways are priceless

Harvest is rewarding not only because you get to make a product and see it from start to finish, but you also bond with the people you are working with. I’ve met some pretty incredible people and formed life-long friendships with some of the people I’ve worked harvests with. When you’re on the grind with these people 6 or 7 days a week for 2/3 of the day, you get to be pretty close with them. Some of the best times are on your 13th hour of work at 11:30 at night when you’re so delirious laughing about something so silly with the people you’re working with. Those were some of my favorite memories and that camaraderie and good morale are truly what get us all through the long days. And what make it all worth it! 

Wineries will usually provide lunches at least once a week if not everyday. I always cherished these times during harvest, when everyone comes together even on a crazy day to relax and bond. Two of the other interns I worked with became my roommates of over 2 years and two of my best friends, and we still reminisce about working our first harvest in Napa together. The wineries will usually wrap up the season with an end of harvest lunch or party, and most will send you off with a few bottles as well.

It will be one of the best times of your life

Harvest, especially your first one, has the potential to be one of the best and most memorable times of your life. It’s fast-paced, exciting, grueling, sweaty, fun, and inspiring all at the same time. On top of making some of the best wines in the world, you will make incredible new friends, drink some pretty killer wines, be exposed to a thousand-year old industry, and likely be in the best shape of your life. The juice is worth the squeeze!!!

How to plan the perfect day in Napa

After you’ve decided where to go tasting in Napa, the other half of the battle is planning your itinerary for each day you’re in the valley. With many wineries closing around 4 or 4:30, it can be difficult to fit all of your favorite spots into one day. I often hear of many visitors trying to squeeze 4 wineries in one day which is honestly not ideal; I would recommend visiting 2, maybe 3 wineries in one day. This allows you to actually relax and absorb all of the wine, scenery, and most importantly information that your guide is sharing with you! There is nothing worse for a wine educator than when guests come in late from another appointment and rush through their tasting. It’s not fair to the person hosting your experience, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by cutting your time short at any of these beautiful wineries.

So how do you make the most of your vacation? As a rough outline, this is how you can set yourself up for success:

Breakfast or brunch

Napa is a marathon not a sprint so it’s important to get something in your system before that first tasting (which might be as early as 10 am). If is this the case and you don’t have time for a big sit down brunch, The Model Bakery (both in Saint Helena and Napa at the Oxbow Market) offer great grab-and-go breakfast options. They have a breakfast sandwich for everyone as well as an expansive selection of pastries and coffee for something lighter. I suggest calling ahead because the line gets crazy on weekends.

If you do have the time to eat a relaxed breakfast, here are a few options:

  • Sky and Vine rooftop bar Sunday Brunch
  • AVOW (brunch on weekends)
  • The Napa General Store
  • Ad Hoc
  • The Boon Fly Café in Carneros
  • Auberge du Soleil
  • Farmstead Saint Helena

Winery #1

I suggest allowing a minimum of 90 minutes at your first winery. Tastings are usually an hour to an hour-fifteen and between buying wine and getting to and from the property your first experience tends to be closer to 2 hours. *As a rule of thumb in general, leave plenty of time between tastings for travel. It can take up to an hour to get from Calistoga to Napa and you want to consider time it takes to call Ubers as well.

Lunch

If you didn’t have time to eat anything before your tastings started I would highly recommend budgeting at least an hour and a half for lunch. There are so many amazing restaurants in Napa and it would be really unfortunate to miss a chance to visit a few of them for lunch during your stay. Here are a few that I love:

  • Mustards Grill
  • R+D Kitchen
  • Farmstead Saint Helena
  • Bouchon (also easier to get a reservation for lunch vs. dinner!)
  • RH Yountville (also check out the RH Wine Vault)
  • For something quicker – Oakville Grocery in Oakville has artisan sandwiches, cheeseboards and grab-and-go options, and Sunshine Market in Saint Helena has a deli counter with great sandwiches as well

Winery #2

By this time it’s probably around 2 or 3pm. If this is your last appointment of the day before dinner you can really relax and take your time.

Option for in between winery #2 and dinner: downtown tasting room

Downtown Napa has a plethora of awesome little tasting rooms that often get overlooked when people plan trips here. There is Alpha Omega, Brown, Mayacamas, and Vineyard 29 to name a few. I love these tasting rooms because they give you a way to try these producers’ wines that you may not otherwise have gotten to try because their wineries are quite hard to get appointments at. Another added bonus is the tasting rooms often offer flights of their wines for a fraction of the winery’s tasting price. If you have a dinner reservation in downtown Napa, these tasting rooms are a great way to experience more of Napa and kill some time in between reservations.

Dinner

If you’ve made it to dinner, congratulations! Kidding kind of. There are so many incredible options for dinner in Napa and I will be doing a separate post on just that. Here are a few suggestions for now:

  • Cole’s Chop House – best steakhouse in Napa in a historic and lively building
  • Angèle – French-inspired cuisine along the Napa Riverfront
  • Los Agaves – NEW in Napa! Upscale Mexican cuisine with a brightly decorated interior and great drinks
  • Bistro Jeanty – also French cuisine, my personal favorite and very authentic
  • Brasswood Saint Helena – beautiful restaurant that also has a winemaking facility
  • Bouchon – a Thomas Keller classic, French cuisine in Yountville
  • Celadon – trendy and chic atmosphere in downtown Napa with a delicious menu
  • La Calenda – Chef Thomas Keller’s take on Mexican cuisine, very fun environment with great food of course
  • Goose & Gander – A Saint Helena staple with a great ambiance and delicious food

A Taste of Toscana

West shore Lake Tahoe

At just around $10 a bottle at Trader Joe’s, this 2013 Casone “Toscana” IGT from the Poggio Al Casone estate in Tuscany is a steal for an easy-drinking red. This producer has multiple tiers of wines, ranging from IGT to DOCG as well as a magnificent estate in the Tuscan countryside. This wine is a great introduction to Sangiovese if that is new to your repertoire – it’s light, approachable, and has just the right amount of fruit on the palate. Pair this wine with a pasta dish, such as fluffy gnocchi in a tomato-cream sauce or a penne a la vodka. This wine is so light that you could even pair it with fish, something like a baccalà (cod in red sauce, serve with angel hair pasta) or an oven-roasted salmon filet with charred cherry tomatoes and lemon. I would not suggest enjoying this wine with a heavy steak or heavy pasta dish as the food might overpower the delicate profile of this wine!

I enjoyed this wine after a long day of skiing and it was the perfect refreshing red to end the day with.

Where to Taste – Napa

With over 400 wineries and new ones popping up all the time, Napa can be a daunting place to plan a wine getaway if you’re not familiar with producers and the different AVAs. This post is by no means comprehensive, but let it serve as a jumping off point for where to look when booking tastings. These are some of my favorite wineries to visit when indulging in Napa. Enjoy!

Spring Mountain Vineyard

If you are looking for a classic winery that showcases Napa and instantly makes you feel in the heart of this famous valley, look to Spring Mountain. This historic winery was established in the 1880s and some of the original buildings still remain today. In terms of winemaking, they are famous for their Bordeaux varietals and unique, velvety expression of Cabernet Sauvignon (which is even featured on the wine list at The French Laundry). The sprawling estate itself is gorgeous, sitting on Spring Mountain in Saint Helena with each of its buildings beautiful and charming in their own ways (check out the Estate Tasting for a look into all of these). You can’t go wrong with any of the tastings this winery has to offer, nor the wines they pour.

Davis Estates

For a more a more avant-garde expression of Napa but equally as delicious, visit Davis Estates in Calistoga. This winery is on the younger side, founded in 2011 by the Davis Family, but there is no lack of tradition and passion despite its age. The estate has a stunning grandeur that becomes instantly apparent after turning into the drive off Highway 29. Upon walking into the visitor’s center, we were greeted with a glass of Chardonnay to sip while taking a walking tour of the grounds and learning the history of the Davis family and estate. The experience concluded with a seated tasting of the remainder of the wines in their cozy lounge with fireplaces lit and a view of the valley. Each wine was paired with a bite prepared by the in-house chef that complemented the wines perfectly! I suggest allowing at least 90 minutes at this property to fully enjoy all that the estate and friendly staff have to offer.

Newton Vineyard (now tasting out of Brasswood)

I first discovered this hideaway gem (also on Spring Mountain) in 2018 when I was an intern at Domaine Chandon as both properties are owned by the same parent company. Even though Newton is owned by a large luxury conglomerate, you would never know it because they have done such a good job of keeping that small, boutique winery feel. I loved Newton for their chic atmosphere and beautiful French-inspired gardens (in addition to their stunning wines, of course). Unfortunately, the entire property burned in the fires of 2020. However, they are rebuilding the entire estate to be a state-of-the-art facility and are still producing wine at a different facility. They are tasting out of Brasswood Napa Valley and you can still purchase and ship wine from them. Newton is famous for their Unfiltered Chardonnay (post on unfiltered wine to come) but I also love their Spring Mountain single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Robert Sinskey

This is the perfect chill spot to unwind at on a sunny and warm Napa day. Tucked into the hillside off of the Silverado Trail, Robert Sinskey has a chic interior tasting bar and a sizable outdoor patio (where I prefer to taste) where you can have your tasting. Sinskey puts a large focus on food and wine pairings which I love and pairs your tasting flight with bites that the culinary team curate and prepare. What I really like about this producer is that they are willing to step out of the box of your usual Napa wines and bottle something a little more fun and off the beaten path, like their vin gris of Pinot Noir and Libration magnums series.

Stags’ Leap Winery

This winery (not to be confused with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, its neighbor) has a history dating back to the Prohibition era. The estate first had grapes planted in 1872, and later a prominent San Francisco couple purchased the property turning it into an elite Napa resort for the high society, and was said to have hosted gatherings at the manor during the 20s. Since then, the original manor (which resembles a castle) has been preserved and caves on the property have since been constructed. The grounds boast vineyards and gardens and seem to transport you to an old-world wine countryside.

This will definitely not be the last Napa Tastings post – after living here for almost 3 years I am still discovering more every day!

At Ease Wine Project: Chenin Blanc

The wine: At Ease Wine Project 2020 Chenin Blanc, Solano County Green Valley

The place: https://ateasewine.square.site/, and now on the Goose and Gander Saint Helena wine list

The price: $28

This decadent and golden Chenin is made from grapes with a very unique story. Winemaker Derek Baljeu sources this fruit from the Biggs Vineyard in Green Valley, a small, family-owned plot with Chenin vines 50+ years old. Baljeu explained that the winds in this valley spike to such high speeds during the late growing season that the vines shut down a portion of the ripening process, which allows the fruit to continue developing in phenolic and acidic complexity without sugar content getting too high. This creates a seriously delicious wine – the hue is somewhere between a yellow-gold sunshine and a pale amber. The mouthfeel is creamy but not overly so, and the tiny touch of sweetness on the finish is welcomed because the acid is still there.

On the nose, I get light honey, butterscotch, and lemon curd. The mouth is very complex – candied walnuts/nuts, candied fruit (pineapple), very light floral notes such as apple or lemon blossom, and fruits cantaloupe and peach. Overall this wine is very fruity and has what I would describe as a round favor profile. It’s honestly delicious.

I chose to pair this wine with savory and salty foods such as the salty, crumbly “Unexpected Cheddar Cheese” from Trader Joe’s, and their asiago cheese with rosemary and olive oil. The creaminess of the wine balances out the sharpness of a hard cheese and the two textures pair beautifully. I could also enjoy this wine with a duck paté with fig jam and toast points. For something more bold, try pairing with a Thai cashew nut chicken dish to really enhance the subtle sweetness of the wine. This wine is full bodied but delicate at the same time – you would not want to overpower it with a strong meal. Oysters would be a good pair as well.

Baljeu is a talented young professional in the industry and makes wine in Napa with grapes from both the North and Central Coast AVAs. He studied winemaking at UC Davis and has a vast range of experience in both the vineyard and cellar operations of the wine industry. I’m excited to see what the 2021 harvest brings for At Ease!

Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc

The wine: Lang & Reed 2016 North Coast Cabernet Franc

The place: Lang & Reed tasting room in Saint Helena, CA (can also purchase from their website)

The price: $29

Lang &Reed is about as “family owned and operated” as you can find in the wine world. Started by husband and wife John and Tracey Skupny in 1993, the oenophile couple first started making wine as a passion project that has since become one of the most tasteful and high quality portfolio of wines in Napa Valley. Their business model values the importance of hands-on winemaking, quality wines with minimal intervention (only where necessary), and only using exceptional fruit from growers that they know and trust. You are really tasting the vineyard, grape, and TLC put into these wines.

L&R are a true Loire Valley house, producing prestige cabernet franc and chenin blanc as their two main varietals. The North Coast Cabernet Franc is one of four of their cab francs and as the name suggests, highlights grapes from three different Northern California AVAs: Lake County, Sonoma County, and Napa Valley. The combination of the crisp Pacific air that flows into the Sonoma vineyards and the beautifully rich terroir of the Napa Sugarloaf Mountain make this north coast wine smooth and balanced on both the nose and mouth palates.

The wine has a beautiful garnet hue and is the perfect blend of spice, vegetation, and fruit aromas. It is at first pyraziney on the nose and has a beautiful bouquet of dark fruits such as dark cherry and blackberry on the nose and mouth. Upon tasting, vegetative flavors of fresh green bell pepper and a hint of eucalyptus make themselves known. This wine has a subtle and refined black-pepper spice which compliments the herby and earthiness on the palate.

The North Coast Cabernet Franc’s subtle spice makes it a great wine to pair with a barbecue dinner, spaghetti dish, or roast chicken. If you are interested in adding more cabernet franc to your repertoire, this is definitely the place to start.

Lady of the Sunshine Pinot Noir

The wine: Lady of the Sunshine Chêne Vineyards 2018 Pinot Noir

The place: I purchased mine from Jack’s Filling Station in Sonoma. You can find Lady of the Sunshine wines in local wineshops featuring natural producers or at https://www.ladyofthesunshinewines.com/wineshop

The price: $26.99

This producer really does bring the sunshine to a rainy (quarantine) day. This wine is the embodiment of how a pinot should taste – light but full bodied, fruity (cherry, strawberry, cranberry) and floral, delicate and refined. The fruit that Gina Giugni uses to produce this pinot is from Edna Valley in the Central Coast AVA of California. The biodynamic practices that are used to farm this vineyard allow the fruit to truly express itself in the finished wine, especially since this producer focuses on making wine without additives or manipulation. This wine is extremely over-delivering for its price point – I’ve paid significantly more money for California (mostly Napa) pinot noirs that are much less expressive and true-to-form than what a pinot should be. Traditionally, pinot noir is a light, floral and fruity (but not overwhelmingly so!) subtle wine that does not smack you in the face with its profile. You have to be patient when drinking pinot noir in order to find and enjoy all of its intricacies and delicate aromas and flavors. It should be the opposite of a cabernet sauvignon in the way that a cab will hand you its bold flavor profile on a silver platter. This 2018 Lady of the Sunshine pinot noir is very close to wine from the grape’s traditional Burgundian roots which makes it a stellar California find. If you’re not drinking Lady of the Sunshine wine you are missing out!!

This wine is light enough to enjoy alone, and also pairs well with lighter meats such as lamb chops, pork chops, and roasted chicken or any pasta dish. It is a perfectly light spring & summer red that can be enjoyed at any time of day (including at 2pm during shelter-in-place🤭). Happy sipping!

December 2019 in Western Australia

The wine: Stormflower 2017 Shiraz

The place: Stormflower Cellar Door, Margaret River, Western Australia

The price: ~30 AUD

In December of 2019 I visited one of my best friends in Margaret River, the ultimate winter wine paradise. While the vineyards in the Northern Hemisphere are dormant, muddy, and gloomy during the month of December, vines in Australia boast a lush canopy with little green berries on their way to veraison. Margaret River is on the west coast of the continent and is one of the world’s best kept secrets. It is a truly magical place where amazing wines can be tasted and discovered only 10 minutes inland from the beautiful Indian Ocean beaches. Not to mention, there are rolling hills and mountains that have breathtaking views of vines to the coast line. The Stormflower tasting room, and specifically this wine, capture Margaret River’s beauty and poise perfectly. This wine was not your typical Australian shiraz – it was actually closer to a Rhône-style – and had a lighter, smoother body compared to the more bold, tannic mouthfeel of most Australian shiraz wines which is why it stood out to me on this trip.

Stormflower came recommended to us by several cellar door employees at other wineries and was situated in a secret garden getaway, and had a beautiful wooden tasting bar inside the cellar door cottage. Every single wine was delicious – from the 2018 Sparkling Silver Lining to the 2017 Cabernet Shiraz. Stormflower is not as well known as other tasting rooms in Margaret River (Cullen, Voyager, etc.), however it is extremely authentic and homey with spectacular wines that make it definitely worth the visit. Combined with the great hospitality that we had here, this was hands down one of my favorite cellar doors in the Margaret River wine region.

More photos from dreamy Margaret River…

Yallingup beach trail
Delicious lunch at the Vasse Felix Winery restaurant terrace with views of their vineyard
Stormflower tasting room

Rivermouth Beach, Margaret River
Yallingup Beach sunset
Breakfast in North Fremantle Beach, Western Australia

November 28, 2019 (Thanksgiving!)

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The wine: 2014 Juliénas “Vieilles Vignes” by Domaine Lassagne

The place: Sunshine Foods – Saint Helena, Napa Valley

The price: $32.00

Thanksgiving can be one of the most difficult events to pair with a wine – there are so many different flavors and textures, and the heaping portions leave you sleepy and stuffed. The challenge is to find a wine that is not too overpowering or bold, which pretty much eliminates most California Cabernet Sauvignons. Then you have Pinot Noir, one which many Napa Valley tasting rooms like to boast is the “perfect Thanksgiving wine.” While Pinot is a solid choice for this meal, there is an even better underdog on the scene – Beaujolais. I’m not talking about Beaujolais Nouveau – I mean the true, thousand-year old classically produced Gamay grape that makes the Beaujolais region such a gem of the wine world. When done right, this grape produces a well-balanced, light, and fruity wine with truly velvety tannins that lift you up while gorging on turkey and potatoes instead of bringing you down to the couch (or floor).

The wine I chose for this Thanksgiving was from Juliénas, one of the 10 Beaujolais crus. It was by Domaine Lassagne from “old vines” of the 2014 vintage. This wine was the archetypal Beaujolais – very fruit forward which complemented the cranberry sauce perfectly. It nearly melted the turkey in my mouth, and had the perfect light texture to complement the entire meal which included: turkey, potatoes au gratin, sweet potato casserole, bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts, steamed green beans, sautéed red cabbage, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Aesthetically, this wine was easy on the eyes with a tastefully designed label (I love a label with a pop of color) that caught my attention on the shelf. In addition, this wine was decently affordable for being imported from the Beaujolais region itself. This was my first Gamay purchase in the states and it will definitely not be my last!

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