This time of year, pumpkin spice season is promoted by every online and brick & mortar retailer, so I decided to offer you a taste of pumpkin spice season along the Wine Road.
Traveling along the Wine Road during autumn is like gliding through a landscape awash with brilliant fall colors painted for your pleasure. You don’t have to go to New England to enjoy the foliage changing color, and we have the added benefit of fall colors appearing in vineyard after vineyard along the highways and backroads of Northern Sonoma County.
As the weather chills and grape harvest winds down, many wineries embrace the pumpkin spice season by decorating with gourds, corn stalks, and, of course, pumpkins. Imagine sipping at your favorite winery along the Wine Road while drinking in the sights of the season, as well as the fragrant aromas of wine fermenting in a nearby cellar. This is how we do the pumpkin spice season!
Ever tried a mulled wine during the holidays? At Spicy Vines, located just off the square in downtown Healdsburg, spiced wine is their passion. And, you can savor not one but two spiced wines any day of the week, not just during the pumpkin spice season.
Spicy Vines co-founder Crystalyn Hoffman fell in love with spiced wines while visiting Germany and brought the concept home to Northern California. Fast forward a few years, and today the spiced wine concept is embraced and enjoyed by many. Check out their website’s cocktail page for intriguing recipes like Chocolate Spice Cake Shooters or Pear My Heart.
The winery also produces traditional, non-spiced wines that are equally delicious and available for tasting and purchase.
With the holidays looming, we scramble to assemble menus and pairings to impress family and friends with our culinary skills and wine savvy. Whether you buy your holiday meals from a local grocer or prepare it yourself, finding the right wine to satisfy everyone’s preference and palate can be tricky. My rule of thumb is always to have a couple of options available. I like to have a more traditional pairing for guests who prefer the known, and then have one or two more adventurous offerings that stretch my guests’ view of wine pairings.
With Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings, dry Rosé, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir are always safe choices. If you want to think a little further out to the box, try a Rhone varietal or Rhone blend. Rosanne is a rich, full white wine with lovely fruit notes, and could pair perfectly with a holiday meal. Or a fruit-forward yet spicy Grenache or red Rhone blend will thrill red wine fans and pair perfectly with turkey and so much more. Frick Winery has a wide range of Rhone wines, as do Trattore Farms, Mounts Family Winery, and many more wineries along the Wine Road.
If you are serving pumpkin soup or pumpkin ravioli, try pairing them with Sangiovese or Tempranillo. These wines seamlessly pair with so many different meals. You might also try them with chicken and penne in a vodka cream sauce, moussaka, or smoked brisket.
And for Dessert
One of my favorite Thanksgiving pairings is a late harvest white wine, like Peterson Winery’s Muscat Blanc or Ferrari-Carano’s ElDorado Gold, served with pumpkin or pecan pie—so delicious! Of course, with a decadent chocolate dessert the options are many. Pedroncelli’s Port always comes to mind, but there are many late harvest and port-style wines available along the Wine Road.
If you want to explore the many interesting wine options available along the Wine Road, use the “search by wine type” tool on the Wine Road’s website. The drop down list will make it easy to find wine options and the wineries that produce them.
Holiday Open House Season
Sipping wine while shopping for holiday gifts—what could be more perfect? There are many upcoming winery holiday open house events that will give you this opportunity.
Just to highlight a few, ACORN Winery, normally only open for Wine Road events or by appointment, will host their open house on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 24th. Taste their current wines plus a selection of library wines, and enjoy them paired with Jimtown Store’s delicious chili (both meat & vegetarian), cornbread, and decadent brownies with cranberries. Tickets, available in advance or at the door, are only $20 for non-club members and $15 for club members.
If the thought of spicy wine intrigued you, you’ll have another chance to try some. On the three days following Thanksgiving, November 23rd -25th, West Wines will host their Scandinavian Christmas open house. They’ll be serving warm Glögg (mulled wine made by their Swedish-born owner and winemaker) and Swedish cookies and treats, along with current release wines, older vintage Cabernets, sparkling and dessert wine.
To view more holiday open house options along the Wine Road, download a PDF of the official Wine Road Holiday Open Houses list.
Happy Holidays & Happy Sipping!
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