The holidays are here and with them, the Feasting Season! The late autumn and early winter months invite more time in the kitchen, pouring over cookbooks, playing with the slow-cooker, and pulling out those special bottles reserved for this time of year. As for pairings…Sara and I have long subscribed to the classics. We simply don’t have the need for ‘the newest,’ ‘the unexpected,’ or ‘the other.’

After 25 years of working in the hospitality/wine import/winemaking game, we have identified a range of wines that routinely bring us pleasure. The ‘classics from home’ include crisp, mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc + the best of California Chardonnay (not the buttery, oaky, tropical versions of yesteryear) + the best of California Pinot Noir (the ones from cooler zones and tarter fruit). Sauvignon Blanc is a great vehicle for expressing soil, aka terroir. The flinty, crushed stone notes captured in our Lolonis Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc invite a range of seasonal food possibilities. Winter crab is a no brainer. Fish crudos, yes. Local oysters, always! But importantly, also a range of vegetable dishes that usually present a challenge for white wine. Sauvignon Blanc is the starter wine of the evening.

Autumn also brings to market a range of colorful squash and one of the season’s greatest pairings is roasted squash with brown butter, and Chardonnay.  Our Casa Seca Vineyard Chardonnay is a nice choice here, or if you prefer something with a little bottle age, our 2016 Chuy Vineyard Chardonnay would be a special selection. Chardonnay also works well with turkey and stuffing and potatoes, so it comes with our highest recommendation at your holiday table. Every feast needs red wines too and we like to offer our guests a few options here.

A Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, with it’s tartly-fruited profile just begs for cranberry sauce and the dark meat from your roasted bird. Or any side dishes with mushrooms. We will be pouring our 2021 Sealift Vineyard Pinot Noir this year and it is sure to make friends at our table! For our more adventurous guests, we also like to offer Old Vine Carignan and/or Valdiguie. These two heirloom grapes produce dark, brooding reds with lots of wild herbaceous character making them a great match for roasted meats–especially those with thyme and/or rosemary!

Pro tip: want to reduce your hangover? Skip the sugary desserts and finish with something savory. Pour a finishing glass from one of these heirloom reds and enjoy with a room-temperature piece of goat or sheep’s milk cheese.

Viva la California!