Thanksgiving is the Superbowl of food holidays, and, in our house, would not be complete without different-colored wines on the table! We’ve pulled together some Oregon wine suggestions to drink with your meal on November 25. Be sure to order your wine today if you want it in time for Thanksgiving!
Oregon Pinot noir
Oregon Pinot noir and Thanksgiving dinner truly are a perfect pairing! Here are a few wines we recommend:
2018 Brooks Winery Temperance Hill Pinot noir
Grapes from the Temperance Hill Vineyard are some of the most sought-after fruit in the Willamette Valley! Brooks purchases fruit from vineyard blocks that were planted in 1981 and are made up of Pinot noir clones 777 (40%), Pommard (31%) and Wädenswil (29%). Once the hand-picked Pinot noir grapes arrived at the Brooks Winery, they were hand-sorted and destemmed before spending 18 months in French oak barrels.
2017 Kramer Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot noir
Winemaker Kim Kramer destemmed ⅓ of the grapes, leaving the rest as whole-cluster. After fermentation began 5 days post-harvest, she utilized twice-daily punch-downs and pump-overs until pressing the fruit. The wine then aged in barrels for 10 months prior to bottling. The result is a Pinot noir with classic Willamette Valley characteristics, bright acidity, and exceptional food-friendliness.
Made with two clones of Pinot noir (2/3 Wädenswil and 1/3 Pommard) grown at the Carlton Hill Vineyard, this wine had so many classic Willamette Valley Pinot flavors. After spending 20 months in French oak barrels, this Pinot had some serious tannins and was built to age so if you drink it young, be sure to decant it.
Venturing beyond Pinot noir, Oregon wineries are making other red grape varietals with enough acidity to complement your holiday meal.
2018 Abacela Grenache
Grenache, pronounced greh-nosh, is such a versatile grape and pairs really well with many types of dishes! It’s usually lighter-bodied with high acidity, a perfect mate with all kinds of food. I really enjoyed how the tannins changed as this wine opened up!
This Baco noir tasted a bit like a mashup between Merlot and Grenache. Tart, raspberry notes, similar to those often found in Grenache were quickly tamed by a wonderful smoothness, much like Merlot. This winning combo makes Baco noir a very versatile, food-friendly wine!
The acidity in sparkling wine has a magical way of tying all the side dishes together in an amazing way! If you’ve never popped a bottle of bubbles with your Thanksgiving meal, this is the year to give it a try.
2020 Bryn Mawr Vineyards sparkling rosé
Made using 82% Pinot noir, 10% Pinot gris, 8% Chardonnay, winemaker Rachel Rose first separated the fresh, hand-picked fruit into two batches. By whole cluster-pressing just some of it, she was able to incorporate more tannins and color into the juice. Once the rosé was finished, each individual bottle was carbonated on the bottling line and fitted with a crowncap, creating a limited supply of fun pink wine you don’t want to miss! (This wine was just awarded a 2021 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition gold medal so I expect it will sell out soon!)
This dry sparkling rosé was made with organically-grown Willamette Valley Pinot noir grapes. Finding one this well-priced, using pesticide-free Pinot noir (the most expensive fruit), grown in the priciest wine region in Oregon… WITH bubbles, was like stumbling upon a unicorn!
2019 Brandborg Vineyard All Hands Riesling Pétillant Naturel
This is the first Pét-nat I’ve tasted made with Riesling grapes and it is FUN in all-caps! Owner/winemaker Terry Brandborg purchased the Riesling grapes from the Bradley family, who planted their Elkton vineyard back in 1983. Once the handpicked grapes entered the Brandborg winery, Terry allowed them to begin fermenting on their own and, in his words, “bottled when the wine told us to, October 29, 2019.”
Rosé isn’t just for summer sipping. Since pink wines had some skin contact in order to achieve their color, they have more body than many white wines, making for excellent food pairing options.
2020 Potter’s Vineyard Estate Vino Vasai Rosé of Pinot noir
Vino Vasai, which is Italian for wine of the potter, dubs itself as “Your Favorite Very Small Winery” in the hopes they will wow you with their wine, clay pottery, and hospitality! After fermenting and aging in stainless steel tanks, this rosé wine was bottled in April and is now ready to drink.
Sourced from Tempranillo grown in the Garnier Vineyard, which is located in the tiny town of Mosier, Oregon, the grapevines have a front seat view of the Columbia River. That river influence, paired with Jay Somers’ expert winemaking skills, produced a rosé with a weighty, full mouthfeel. Quite textured and layered, this rosé would please anyone that prefers to drink solely red wine.
Acidity and mouthfeel are so important when pairing wines with foods. These white wines have both and will hold their own as you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.
2019 Paul O’Brien Winery Charlemagne white blend
Made using grapes grown in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, they were whole-cluster pressed and co-fermented in 100% French oak, of which 10% was new. After 8 months on the lees (also known as sur lie), and regular stirring, the texture in this wine is on point and hard to believe it was all achieved without the use of any malolactic fermentation. By co-fermenting the two varietals, the high acid levels of the Pinot blanc really elevated the Chardonnay to new heights.
2017 Native Flora Karst of the Andaman Pinot blanc
Native Flora is home to 35 Babydoll sheep that graze between the rows of grapevines, mowing as they go. To prevent the sheep from eating the wine grapes, winemaker/owner Scott Flora invented a unique, elevated trellising system. The sheep can’t reach the grapes growing above their heads and the grape pickers love working at the vineyard since they don’t have to stoop while harvesting the ripe fruit.
This vintage was the first Anahata Vineyard harvest and winemaker Isabelle Meunier gently pressed the Chardonnay fruit before allowing the grapes to spontaneously ferment rather than inoculate with commercial yeast strains. Fermentation occurred in French oak barrels, 20% of which were new. The wine was then bottled in March of 2021.
Michele Francisco, a founder and regular contributor to Winerabble, a blog primarily about Pacific Northwest wines, is living the dream in Portland, Oregon. Her passion leads some to believe she's got wine running through her veins. Contact Michele at email@example.com & be sure to visit her online portfolio at www.michelefrancisco.com.