Winemakers share their Thanksgiving secrets

Not all super tasters and holiday recipe makers work in a kitchen. Some grow grapes and make wine, two occupations that demand a keen knowledge of balancing sweet, savory and salty to bring out a spectrum of flavors.

On Thanksgiving, Ashland and Talent wine producers will close their tasting rooms for the day in anticipation of the traditionally busy, wine-sampling Thanksgiving weekend.

Most of the owners of these family-owned operations will spend the holiday in their home kitchens, whipping up dishes from handed-down recipes or new concoctions made from fresh, locally grown ingredients.

Paula Brown and Patrick Flannery of Dana Campbell Vineyards in Ashland will start their meal with a salad of just-picked lettuce, pear slices, crumbled blue cheese and chopped hazelnuts tossed with a light balsamic vinaigrette and served with a viognier wine with hints of honeysuckle, white peach and nectarine.

The couple also will pair a tempranillo wine that has spicy plum flavorings and light tannins with a savory sausage stuffing and gravy.

Grizzly Peak Winery owner Virginia Silbowitz plans to serve a pinot gris to go with her fresh pumpkin risotto accented with Parmesan cheese and prosciutto at her Ashland table.

Lena Varner of Ledger David Cellars in Talent will dip into her grandmother's recipe box to find a side dish — scalloped russet potatoes with Gruyère and hot sauce — to pair with a Vouvray-style chenin blanc.

Upper Five Vineyard organic grape grower Terry Sullivan will season a brined turkey with chilies, unsweetened cocoa, cinnamon and other spices, then slow-cook it on a wood-pellet Traeger grill in his Talent yard. He wants to serve his culinary centerpiece with Spanish chorizo stuffing, sautéed Brussels sprouts with roasted pine nuts and dried cranberries, and tempranillo wine.

Locally grown malbec paired with a dark-chocolate-crusted pecan pie may complete the meal at the Brown-Flannery home.

But malbec, a wine made from Argentine grapes, has inspired a Native American dinner at Gus Janeway's house in Ashland.

Malbec often is served with bison and other lean meats because the tannins are so ripe and round, says Janeway, who produces wine under the Velocity Cellars, Velo and William Augustus labels. "Malbec doesn't need to go up against richer, fattier meats," he says.

Janeway buys meat from Full Circle Bison Ranch in Williams, grills it and serves it with chipotle garlic butter on polenta (corn) and crisp brown butter sage on ceramic plates created by his wife, Julia.

When he buckles to tradition and takes the turkey route, he pours a viognier-marsanne blend, malbec rosé or cabernet franc.

On Friday, Laura Lotspeich, who owns Trium Wines in Talent, says she may use a cuvée, a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, to zest up her day-after dishes. From her refrigerator, she may pull out leftover dark turkey pieces and sweet potatoes, add sautéed celery and onion, and then fresh, crushed cranberries and wine. She will serve it over leftover dressing or rice.

Staff reporter Janet Eastman can be reached at 541-776-4465 or by email at

Share This Story