Thankgiving Wine Pairing…Backwards

Wine is traditionally served in a particular order. For Thanksgiving this year, however, I wanted to mix things up a bit and challenge myself to come up with a menu that would pair with wines served opposite of when they would usually be served. 


Blanched Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto with crushed walnuts

Wine: Cru Classe Sauternes. I particularly like Chateau Coutet in Barsac for this. 

Aged Gouda with Honey and Maricopa Almonds

Wine: Sercial Maderia. I’m a huge fan of the Rare Wine Company’s offerings. 

1st Course

Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Walnuts, and Applewood Smoked Bacon with Red wine Vinegarette

Wine: Fransiscan Magnificant. Oh yeah. Strong flavors requires a strong wine. In the absence of this wine a really good Merlot will do. 

2nd Course

Sous Vide Salmon over Julienne Green Beans and fresh Microgreens. 

Wine: Dry Rose. I would lean towards the Finger Lakes myself with this one but understanding that those aren’t available everywhere I would secondly look for the south of France or Loire Valley Roses. 

Main Course

Herb Roasted Turkey with Cramberry and Apple stuffing. Sweet potato gratin with baking spices. Roasted Brussel Sprouts with crispy Panchetta. 

Wine: Killian’s Russian River Chardonnay. This personal offering from my former boss is perfect for this type of meal. Rich and delicious with great acid. 


Pumpkin Pie with homemade Whipped Cream. Creamy Brie with berries. 

Wine: Champagne or Riesling? Or Both! Both definitely. 

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy this time with your loved ones! 

Vignettes: Random Thoughts that Need to Be Explored

I check most of the major wine websites on a daily basis.  Wine Business , Decanter, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and The Drinks Business.  Many times I read something in these checks that spark my interest or brings up a question in my mind that I want to explore.  Sometimes I will be reading something that has nothing to do with wine and I think of parallels in the wine industry that would be fun to explore.  Below are several of these snapshots into my daily mental wanderings that I would love to explore further and may expand into entire blog posts.  I’m giving you a chance to weigh in to see what would be most interesting.

Does Champagne Need to Regain its Number 1 Position on the Global Market? Did it really lose it in the first place?

This thought was inspired by two separate articles that were both published within a few days of each other.  This post on Wine Business asking “Can Champagne Regain #1 Market Postion as the Most Consumed Sparkling Wine?” This totally sounded like an MW Contemporary Issues question that it got me thinking about the counter question “Should Champagne be worried that they are not the most consumed?” Then this post from the Wall Street Journal “Has Champagne Lost Its Pop?” Both of these could be MW exam questions.  I am going to write them up that way but the general premise which I am going to explore is does a drop in volume suddenly equate to a drop in status or prestige.  I would assume the opposite but I need to explore it further.

If Prohibition Had Been Repealed Today, Would the Laws Have Been Written the Same Way?

I read about the AirBnB Win in San Francisco from the LA Times in this post last week and was struck by one section that was a quote from a lawyer who worked for the measure opposition.

” Daniel Rockey, an attorney who represents other sharing economy companies, maintains the penalties in Proposition F would have violated a federal law that protects Internet firms. And the Internet Assn., which advocates for companies such as Airbnb and Facebook, said it would be unreasonable to require companies to keep up with a patchwork of regulations that could come from a proliferation of local laws affecting the short-term rental industry. “It would set up the company to fail — and expose them to significant legal liability,” said Robert Callahan, California executive director of the group.”

I had to sit and think about that one for a while.  There hidden in this article was  a statement saying how ridiculous allowing an entire industry to be driven by local laws is and pointing out that it is unreasonable to require companies to keep up with them.  Um, Yes. It is.  I’ll leave that right there.

Champagne Helps Boost Memory

Oh my goodness! Where do I start with the questions about this article.  

• Are we talking Champagne or are we talking about any wine with bubbles? Well, the authors are British so I will assume the former. 

• Does the effect come from the traditional secondary fermentation process? If so, one could assume that any traditional method sparkling wine would have the same effects. If not, are the memory boosting properties an aspect of the growing conditions, varieties, and soils? If that’s the case, then why wouldn’t Chablis have the same properties?

• If it is the secondary fermentation that is the key, then would tank method have the same properties? If not then is it the time on lees that counts?

• If it’s is the time on lees, then one could assume, again, that any traditional method sparkling would work the same. Depending on the type of lees contact, would heavily stirred white wines have the same effects or does it need to be years? 

• If it is lees breaking down over years, then one could assume there is a compound within yeast cells which is liberated during the process and should be able to be isolated into a memory boosting supplement. 

Clearly the only way for me to dive into this is to find the published study. Only then I will be able to start narrowing down the answers. 

Now it is up to you. Which would you be interested in seeing developed?




The Road Not Taken

Fall Field at Trestle

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I have always loved this poem by Robert Frost.  Even in American Literature Class in high school it was this poem that stood out the moment we read through it and has stayed with me for life.  It is a complex poem, covering different angles of choices in our lives.  I think writer David Orr said it best when he explains

“The poem both is and isn’t about individualism, and it both is and isn’t about rationalization. It isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing so much as a wolf that is somehow also a sheep, or a sheep that is also a wolf. It is a poem about the necessity of choosing that somehow, like its author, never makes a choice itself—that instead repeatedly returns us to the same enigmatic, leaf-shadowed crossroads.”

It brings me comfort to understand that many others including the esteemed Robert Frost, feel this way about decisions they have made in their lives.  This week I had the amazing experience of walking our newly cleared land that will be our vineyard and future home.  The land is exactly as I pictured it with a gentle slope running down towards the southwest and now that the leaves have fallen, a peek of the lake that is integral to growing grapes in this area.  It reminds me of the time, almost a decade ago now, that I lived here and had to make the decision to leave.  It was one of the hardest decisions of my life at the time.  The decision to come back was equally hard but for different reasons. I think it is natural to mentally relive decisions and try to imagine what would have happened if one had taken the other road.  For myself, I know if I had stayed in the Finger Lakes and not moved to California, I would not have been able to walk the land we have now.  I would not know what I know now.  Those years in California were essential to my growth as a winemaker and I don’t feel that I could have offered as much to the region now if I had stayed here.

I know if I had stayed in the Finger Lakes and not moved to California, I would not have been able to walk the land we have now.  I would not know what I know now.

However, it is natural to imagine what would have been particularly when faced with the reality of something that you have only dared dream of for close to 15 years.  Nearly every time I have ever walked through a vineyard over the 13 years I have been making wine, I have dreamt of the day when I would be able to walk through my own.  Walking the field this week and thinking of what clones and rootstocks we should use, what our spacing should be is almost surreal.  It is the point in your life where dream and reality blur and I did need to pinch myself.  To remind me that I was not going to wake up, still in California, but that we are really here and this is really our land.  The light was amazing with the sun setting in the west and blazing on the Trestle surrounded by the autumn colors of russet, auburn, and gold.


One of the first things that was suggested to me earlier this year was that I should RoundUp (R) the entire field to make it easier to work the land next year.  I recoiled from the thought of that radical approach.  I realize my dream of a bio-dynamic vineyard in the middle of the Finger Lakes is probably well beyond any realistic possibility however I remain determined to use as little chemical intervention as possible without sacrificing the health of our future vines.  Looking over the beautiful wildflowers and weeds I am happy that we made this decision.  Even though some plants have been removed, it has been largely brush and small trees.  The larger trees we have left in an attempt to keep the site as natural as possible to the original layout.  A medium sized black walnut marks the western most end of the plantable area and a large white cedar stands midway up the Northern boundary.  Both of these were kept since they were the largest trees that had grown up over the 40 plus years the field had not been farmed.  The land is perfect for my husband and I.  Brian has his forest complete with a creek and a stand of large Norway Spruces, Sugar Maples, and Walnuts that he is so fond of in this area and I have my field now for grapes.  It is the perfect retreat for both of us.  I can’t wait to see what the winter brings to see the full cycle of the year on the land.