Thanksgiving Picks From Across North American Wine Country What winemakers, winery owners and other industry folks are going to drink

Even though I don’t write the traditional Thanksgiving wine column anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t love the holiday and all of the food and wine that come with it. So, continuing a new tradition on my website, here we have some of the wines that folks in and around the East Coast (and Upper Midwest this year) will be enjoying tomorrow with or before or after their Thanksgiving dinners.

Rich Olsen-Harbich, winemaker, Bedell Cellars
“I know for sure I’ll be trying the new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau. It goes great with the Thanksgiving meal and it’s a family tradition. It’s hard to find the smaller producers out here on the North Fork so I usually just drink either the Bouchard Aîné & Fils or Georges Duboeuf. It’s fun style of wine that I’ve enjoyed emulating this year in Taste Nouveau. I like that we can drink a wine that was so recently just growing on the vine and is so full of life!”

Rick Rainey, partner, Forge Cellars
“I will start off w/ Eve’s Perry Pear or Autumn’s gold…because I can drink two bottles because it is 8.5% alc. and it taste wonderful in the fall…we lived on it during harvest. Next up will most likely be Cru Beaujolais from a good small producer (Thivin, Lapierre etc.) because these wines give me the most joy of probably any place. When I say “joy” I just mean pure happiness and not necessarily longs period of silence and contemplation. When you are over eating (and drinking) I don’t really want much contemplation.”

Sam Jennings, winemaker, Cannon River Winery
“2014 Fidelitas Red Mountain Cabernet, Red Mountain, Washington State. My fiancée and I will be spending Thanksgiving away from our family’s back in Washington State, so it’s nice to crack a good bottle from back home and share with our new friends out here in Minnesota. Helps us connect the holiday back home.”

Ami Opisso, general manager, Lieb Cellars
“2016 Mittelbach Zweigelt Rose, Lower Austria. I bought this at a specialty wine shop in Manchester, VT a few weeks ago on the owner’s recommendation. I love drinking rose at Thanksgiving and this one is made with Zweigelt (which makes lovely, high acid reds) by an estate in Austria dating back to the 1100’s. Can’t wait to try it!”

Drew Baker, vineyard manager, Old Westminster Winery
“I’m opening some east coast mags: Riesling and Cabernet Franc from Wiemer, and Bordeaux blends from Black Ankle and Old Westminster. Also, plan to drink a few special bottles of Edi Simcic my wife and I brought back from Slovenia. I come from a big Irish Catholic family and for us, Thanksgiving is all about sharing. Stories, laughter, food and wine. And mags are perfect for sharing.”

Anthony Nappa, winemaker, Raphael & Anthony Nappa Wines
“I’m having Thanksgiving with Kelly and Rob (Koch) this year and I think I am going to bring a magnum of Red Tail Ridge Riesling, not sure the vintage but a few years old for sure. Why? Riesling… Yes!, Big bottle… Yes!

Christopher Bates, winemaker/co-owner, Element Winery
“Well, we have two services at FLX Table, then I will head to our friends/family Thanksgiving where we have been celebrating the holiday together my entire life. We will certainly be popping some crazy treats at FLX Table, and likely have some Champagne with the team before, during and or after service. Possibly a mag of Doyard, and we have an old bottle of Dutraive Beaujolais set aside for family meal as well. But, on my home life Thanksgiving, we will likely just take something simple. Maybe a mag of Luneau Papin Vierge Muscadet. The holiday is not really about wine for me, it’s about time with friends. The wine is only a social lubricant. I need something balanced and fresh and pure and tasty, but also, something that I don’t mind if someone pours over ice if they want.”

Erik Longabardi, cider maker/winemaker, Ancestral Flora Ciders and Wines
“For me, nothing beats drinking Riesling for Thanksgiving. Sure, it’s from Germany, but nothing is more pleasurable then opening an off-dry Feinherb. It has all the acids to compliment the food usually drenched with minerality and freshness from respected winemakers. I love growers like Keller, Lauer, Stein, J.B. Becker, Josef Walter and Weingut Weltner. And why not have some. Trockenbeerenauslese with your apple pie for dessert!” 
Autumn Stoscheck, cider maker, Eve’s Cidery
“I’m going to be serving Farnum Hill extra dry cider at our Thanksgiving table. This cider delights with it’s bright explosive fruit (NOT apple…more melon, lychee and stone fruit) yet it’s totally dry. It’s got all that fresh, juicy acidity and lower abv that makes cider such an excellent choice for long, heavy meals. Steve and Louisa grow classic English bittersweets such as Yarlington Mill and Dabinett on their hillside farm in chilly New Hampshire, and this cider features those varieties heavily…with that dry and dusty tannic frame, and complex aromas of earth and leather underneath all of the bright fruit.”
Dean Babiar, Jamesport VIneyards
“Red Tail Ridge 2011 Sparkling Teroldego because Thanksgiving is best served on the East Coast and there is always an Italian accent.”
Ed Boyce, Black Ankle Vineyards
“Last spring, we had the chance to visit Bandol for the first time and we were really impressed with the wines and the people.  I think the flavors of Fall/Thanksgiving tend to be earthy, and Bandol reds are nothing if not earthy, so we will be popping the cork on a bottle from Chateau de Pibarnon (either the 2003 or the 2011, haven’t decided yet) that we brought back with us.  The grapes are only from vines older than 40 years (not sure I will live long enough to see that at Black Ankle Vineyards!) and it is a simply made, salt of the earth wine. Yum.”
Kelly Koch, Macari Vineyards
“I’m planning on opening the Wrath Falanghina ‘Ex Dolio’ on Thanksgiving, made by my good friend Sabrine Rodems. Thanksgiving is about celebrating friends and family, and drinking wines made by good friends is a way to be together in spirit! I am eager to taste this wine. I think its depth and texture should be a nice match with the wide range of flavors on the Thanksgiving.”
Kelby Russell, Red Newt Cellars
“Perhaps it is due to the later harvest this year — and the fact we are working outside when it is much colder than it normally would be for our ‘end of harvest’ — but I’ve been leaning heavily towards reds in general and Pinot Noir, in particular, this November.  In that vein, a Pinot Noir I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to taste and purchase this year may make an appearance for Thanksgiving: J.B. Becker’s 2012 Walkenberg Alte Reben Spatburgunder.   A hidden gem of an estate in the Rheingau, it has recently started coming into the U.S. and has quite the cool buzz for its Rieslings. The surprise in visiting Becker this past spring, however? The Spatburgunders! Beautiful, light on their feet without being delicate, truly remarkable wines from aroma to finish. They aren’t available in the states, to my knowledge, but you could fly to Frankfurt and buy a bottle for less than many equivalent quality Burgundies go for. I’ll happily open a bottle in thanks for those who made it and for the opportunities I had this year to visit and try it myself.”

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