Is all of this talk about the big Turkey Day feast prompting more stress than joy?
Hey, you’ve worked hard all year. If you really don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving… or cleaning up the mess afterward… don’t!
Eschew tradition for one year, and give thanks by having someone else do the cooking… or by turning the holiday weekend into a wine-touring weekend. There’s still time to make alternate plans.
South Coast Winery, Resort & Spa in Temecula, Calif., has planned a special Thanksgiving menu at its Vineyard Rose Restaurant, while the wineries of Oregon will renew their own tradition by opening their doors to the public on the three days immediately following Turkey Day.
Let’s start with the holiday meal in Southern California, just north of San Diego. The multi-course extravaganza, available from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., includes:
• Goat Cheese and Membrillo Mousse on an Artisan Baguette.
• Butternut Squash Soup with Pumpkin Seed Oil and Crème Fraiche.
• A choice of three entrees — Roast Turkey & Braised Dark Meat (with Traditional Sausage-Sage Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry-Orange Relish and Giblet Gravy); Syrah-Braised Boneless Short Rib (with Sweet Potato Gratin, Mushrooms, Green Beans and Smokehouse Almonds); or Herb-Crusted Sea Bass (with Wild Rice Pilaf and Local Honey-Braised Baby Carrots).
• Crustless Pumpkin Pie with Chantilly Cream and Candied Pecans.
Prices for the full meals range from $38 to $43, and reservations are recommended, especially at this late date. Reserve one of the resort’s private villas, and you can “stroll home” after dinner.
The Vineyard Rose Restaurant at South Coast Winery, Resort & Spa
On the day after Thanksgiving, as they have for 29 years, more than 150 wineries and tasting rooms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley will open their doors for special tastings and holiday festivities. Many of the smaller, family-owned wineries open to the public only on select holiday weekends such as this one.
While making the rounds of the valley, you can taste new wines or older vintages, check out one of the newer wineries and tasting rooms, meet winemakers, sample wine from the barrel, enjoy specialty food pairings and listen to live music.
Because the valley is so vast, it’s best to concentrate on just one area per day. With more than 200 wineries and tasting rooms from which to choose, you definitely won’t go home thirsty.
Here are some wines-tasting routes to help you explore the corners of the valley and make the most of your holiday weekend adventure (maps are available online by using the links provided)…
Northern Willamette Valley — Visit wineries in Portland’s own backyard, then continue through the scenic hills and valleys of Washington and Yamhill counties. From Portland, head west on Hwy. 26 and connect through the back roads to Hwy. 47. If you keep heading south, your wine-tasting stamina (and designated driver) will lead you all the way to Carlton.
North Willamette Valley Wineries
Eola-Amity Hills — Experience the back-road charm of Eola-Amity Hills wineries outside Salem. This hidden gem is only 45 minutes from Portland. Head south on I-5 and then west to these small, family-owned estates. For an unforgettable entrance into wine country, take your friends and family across the Wheatland Ferry.
Eola-Amity Hills Wineries
The Back Door to Dundee Hills & Chehalem Mountains — When it comes to wine tasting, we all want to spend more time visiting our favorite wineries and less time on the road. Concentrating on this area — and following the online map — will enable you to experience many great wineries while avoiding some of the traffic.
Dundee Hills Wineries
The Road to Carlton and McMinnville — These two towns offer a unique wine-tasting experience: tasting rooms pouring world-class wines, all within a walk around the block (or two). Talk about efficiency. Make time to visit some of the beautiful wineries and vineyards along the way as you enjoy the scenic back roads of Hwy. 240.
Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing the road with a great many fellow wine lovers, so drive with care.