As we try to plan for our best version of the American tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving amidst the COVID-19 pandemic this year, I am encouraged by the realization that our senses can help to propel memories to the front of our minds. Even though we may not be able to gather with many loved ones this year, the aromas, flavors, colors, sounds and textures of this season can bring to mind the many great times in the past when we have been able to. The unmistakable celebratory sound of a cork being liberated from the neck of a bottle of bubbles, the beautiful golden color of a well-roasted turkey, the aroma of gravy that throws your salivary glands into high gear, the dreamily creamy texture of mashed potatoes or the nuanced and complex flavors of the perfect wine can all remind us of those with whom we’ve shared them in the past. A fun way to put this theory into practice would be to try to replicate the recipes of some of your favorite people that you can’t be with this year. Love your aunt’s green bean casserole? Ask her for the recipe, then think of her while you’re enjoying her signature dish. She’ll appreciate being remembered, and you won’t have to miss out on one of your favorites.
Pinot Noir and roasted turkey are a classic combination and the wine’s delicate complexity actually pairs very well with many of the other components of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Savory stuffing, tart cranberry sauce, squash and many other roasted vegetables and pumpkin pie, (yes you just read pumpkin pie) all can be enhanced by the mild acidity, moderate tannins and layered fruit flavors in a high-quality local Pinot Noir. While Pinot Noir originated in the Burgundy region in France, local Pinot Noir from Sonoma County is widely recognized as being some of the very best available anywhere. Other notable versions are consistently being grown and produced in the Central Coast region of California from Monterey down to Santa Barbara, as well as in Oregon, the cooler parts of Germany and New Zealand.
Our local grape growers and wineries are going through very difficult times. The pandemic has dramatically reduced wine sales for many and the fires during this year’s harvest ruined multiple millions of dollars’ worth of local grapes. Please consider sending a couple of bottles of our local wines to each of those loved ones that won’t be able to travel here and visit this holiday season. I’m sure they would appreciate being reminded of the world-class wines they get to enjoy when they’re here and I know our local industry needs a boost so that we are still able to produce those wines the next time your friends and family are able to visit. Thank you.
Here’s to honoring old memories and looking forward to making new ones with those that we love sometime very soon. Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or 707-548-2294. Visit their website at www.JamesFamilyCellars.com