As we approach Thanksgiving, the Oakville Winegrowers have a lot to be thankful for. In early October, wildfires swept through Napa and Sonoma wine country. Our hearts go out to the people who lost businesses and homes, and our deepest gratitude goes to the tireless fire crews from around the country--indeed, the world--who kept so many people safe.
If your holiday travels will bring you to Napa Valley, we are happy to say that every winery member of the Oakville Winegrowers is open during this holiday season. Come raise a glass with us in celebration of the way great food and wine brings people together.
Wherever you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, wine is an integral part of the holiday. Although the Pilgrims did not have wine at the original Thanksgiving, it’s very likely that by 1789, when George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation, wine had made its way to some tables. Washington called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the conclusion to the war for independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was a famous wine collector with his own vineyards at Monticello; surely he was an influence on his colleagues and friends.
At the height of the Civil War in 1863, Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation asking all Americans to “commend to [God’s] tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. In 1939, in a bid to boost retail sales during the depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday one week earlier. Known derisively as “Franksgiving,” his move was met with opposition, and in 1941 he relented and signed a bill restoring Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of the month.
The Thanksgiving following Prohibition opened the door to America’s love affair with holiday wine. The wine critics of 1934 suggested sherry or madeira and eventually Bordeaux and Chablis wines. As the domestic and global wine market expanded, so did the tastes of the American consumer. By the 1970s, as California wines were gaining popularity and respect, they began appearing at Thanksgiving Day celebrations.
Wine enhances the enjoyment of food; with the abundance of flavors on most Thanksgiving tables, pairing opportunities abound. Sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Viognier, Rose, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are all excellent choices.
We asked a few of our Oakville vintners what they like best about Thanksgiving. Linda Neal, owner of Tierra Roja, said she loves “Holding hands around the table while saying grace, surrounded by your most important loved ones.” Kendall Hoxsey Onysko of Napa Wine Company shared a similar sentiment: “We always appreciate getting together to enjoy each other's company. I'm sure we will all feel a little more grateful and blessed this year to have each other.”
This Thanksgiving, please choose wines from Northern California wine country--Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino. You’ll be drinking delicious wines while also helping these areas to get back on their feet from the fires. We are thankful for your support and wish you a safe, happy and delicious Thanksgiving.