If you’re planning to take the year off from hosting the big Thanksgiving Day bash… or if you’re simply looking for an excuse to avoid Uncle Bill’s bad jokes… consider taking a trip to wine country.
These days, “wine country” is not all that far away for most Americans, because wine is made in al 50 states. For ideas, simply Google “wine” along with the name of your state, and chances are you’ll find a link or two to all the information you need to plan a fun long-weekend getaway.
Meanwhile, we have a few ideas suggested by members of our Vinesse tasting panel…
In Oregon, the wineries of the Willamette Valley are celebrating 50 years since the first Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1965. In the past half-century, Willamette wine country has grown from a handful of pioneering families to more than 400 wineries producing some of the world’s best Pinot Noir.
From November 27-29, more than 150 of those wineries are throwing open their doors for special tastings, live music, food pairings, holiday discounts and more. To view the full “Guide to Wine Country Thanksgiving,” go to: http://willamettewines.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Thanksgiving-Guide-2015.pdf.
Washington’s Yakima Valley also is hosting a Wine Country Thanksgiving event on the same dates. For a list of winery activities, lodging information and more, go to: http://winecountrythanksgiving.com/thanksgiving-winery-events.asp.
In California, the Napa Valley Wine Train will be offering a multi-course feast, including a welcome taste of wine, on Thanksgiving Day. The meal, priced from $134 to $209 per person, will be served during a three-and-a-half hour journey alongside some of the world’s most famous grapevines. For further information, go to: http://winetrain.com/package/thanksgiving/.
If you’d prefer to eat your meal without moving, here are several other Napa Valley options:
- MEADOWOOD — Thanksgiving dinner will be served from 12 noon to 9 p.m. in the Grill. The cost is $85/person, plus $35 for paired wines. More: 707-967-1205.
- SILVERADO RESORT — A Thanksgiving buffet will be served in the Grand Ballroom from 12:30-4:30 p.m. for $65 per person. Also, a special three-course menu will be featured in The Grill from 3-9 p.m. for $42 per person. More: 707-257-5431. The following day, the resort will host its annual tree-lighting ceremony.
- AUBERGE DE SOLEIL — An elegant four-course menu will be featured with several items to choose from for each course, including oysters on the half-shell, fairytale pumpkin soup, and warm croissant pudding. The menu will be offered from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the cost is $125 per person. More: 800-348-5406.
- SOLBAR AT SOLAGE — A four-course meal, including roasted breast and confit thigh of Diestel Farms turkey with cornbread stuffing, creamed spinach, whipped yams, and cranberry compote, will be featured from 12 noon to 8:30 p.m. The cost is $70 per person. More: 877-684-6146.
- BOON FLY CAFÉ AT THE CARNEROS INN — Free-range Diestel turkey, butternut squash soup, sausage and herb stuffing, and pumpkin cheesecake are the big feast highlights available from 3 to 9 p.m for $55 per person. More: 707-299-4870.
- LA TOQUE AT THE WESTIN VERASA — A three-course feast reflecting the season’s finest ingredients from a network of local farmers and purveyors, typical of the Michelin-starred restaurant’s contemporary French menu, will be served. All Thanksgiving guests will leave with one of Chef Ken Frank’s famous turkey sandwich “leftover bags.” Available from 1 to 5 p.m. for $78 per person, plus $42 per person for wine pairings. More: 707-257-5157.
- LUCY RESTAURANT AT BARDESSONO — The farm-fresh a la carte menu includes butternut squash risotto, Willie Bird roast turkey with brioche stuffing, and chilled pear soup among the options. The special menu will be available from 1 to 8 p.m. for $90 per person. More: 707-204-6030.
- HURLEY’S RESTAURANT — A “traditional Turkey Day menu” will be offered, with both pre-fixe and a la carte options, from 1 to 8 p.m. for $48 per person. For football fans, there will be a “Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar” available from 10 a.m. until noon to accompany the games on TV.
- CELADON — A four-course, pre-fixe menu… including butternut squash and pear soup; Good Shepherd Ranch free-range turkey breast; savory stuffing with mushrooms, apples and pecans; and pumpkin or pecan pie… will be available from 3 to 8 p.m. for $65 per person. More: 707-254-9690.
- BRIX RESTAURANT — Sonoma-raised Heritage turkey breast with confit turkey leg and mushroom and melted leek stuffing; slow-roasted porchetta; sweet potato gratin with toasted marshmallow meringue; and pumpkin cheesecake with maple chantilly cream will be served from 2 to 8 p.m. for $72 per person. More: 707-944-2749.
To the west in Sonoma County, The Heart of Sonoma Holiday Open House has become a highly anticipated event, showcasing more than two dozen wineries across Santa Rosa, Glen Ellen, Kenwood and Sonoma. This year’s 32nd annual gathering from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on November 27 and 28 offers special wine tastings, the opportunity to meet winemakers, mingling in caves and cellars, and more. Most wineries throw out all the stops, presenting live music and nibbles to accompany their wines.
For ticket information, a list of participating wineries and a special offer on lodging, go to: https://www.heartofsonomavalley.com/products/32nd-annual-holiday-open-house.
If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving experience that’s out of the ordinary and certain to produce a heart full of thankfulness, head for your nearby “wine country”… wherever it may be.