This Is Your Official California Wine Holiday Shopping List

Anti-Euro wine tariffs are very much a thing. Here’s one way to avoid them.

Holiday Wine Pairings
The perfect wine to pair with every holiday this season.
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By Diane Rommel / November 12, 2019 9:01 am

Thanksgiving approaches — and with it, the demands for a convivial table. You probably already have an idea for the turkey and trimmings, but what about the wine? 

For guidance, we reached out to Joseph Estrada and James Kelm with Castro Village Wine Co. on 19th St. for assistance in curating our holiday wine list. Their speciality is California wine — a boon all year round, but especially now, given those new anti-Europe wine tariffs

We asked James our key question: For those of us who “gotten by” with whatever bottle’s on hand in the past, why put the energy into sourcing that just-right bottle?

“Generally, our customers are wine lovers, wine-curious or have wine lovers in their lives,” he says. “For me, personally, my answer to the ‘gotten by’ question is that a good wine — important to note, it doesn’t have to be expensive — can complement the food, serve as a fun conversation starter, and ‘garnish’ the whole experience. Each bottle you pour your guests is a chance to tell a story.” 

Below, James and Joseph’s picks for a season’s worth of holiday dinners. 

InsideHook: Thanksgiving approaches. Which wines should I have on the table? 

Castro Village: Chardonnay and pinot noir are two classic Thanksgiving choices popular with our customers. You can’t go wrong with either. A couple ideas from our current releases: Start with the 2017 Sonnet Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. This wine is fresh without being too austere, with minimal butter and no oak. It’s a good choice if you are looking for a Chablis-style California chardonnay. Also consider the 2017 Lioco Mendocino County Pinot Noir. This expression of pinot noir is bright on palette, lively and fresh without being too acidic. We imagine it being a good match for turkey and cranberries.

We also enjoy recommending more unconventional pairings for our more adventurous customers. These are two wines we recently featured in our weekly flights that we feel fit the holiday well: 2018 Rootdown Amador County Trousseau, which has a bright flavor profile with a savory edge. We think it could be a fun alternative to a pinot noir at Thanksgiving. And then the 2017 Edmunds St John “El Jaleo” red wine. Vineyard owner Ann Kramer has a lot of wine makers seeking out her sustainably farmed fruit. This blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache would be a silky and spicy addition to a holiday dinner table.

OK, so Thanksgiving’s taken care of. What about a big family holiday dinner — maybe Christmas or Hanukkah? 

For both those holidays, we’d focus on reds to warm you up on cold days. We loved the 2016 Santa Barbara Grenache from Paul Lato, which combined the blackberries, black cherries and licorice you might expect in a new world wine with a full-bodied, beautifully polished red. It’s one of the best grenache wines we’ve had in a long time. We’re also loving the 2016 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from Outpost. While a splurge, we’re digging the balance of aromatics, fruit, and structure.

What about New Year’s? 

For sparkling wines — I know this article is about California wines, but we make some exceptions for French bubbles. We love the Cuvée Agnes from Vitteaut-Alberti, a Crémant de Bourgogne. Closer to home, we’re driving Ultraviolet’s Sparkling California Rosé, along with Schramsberg 2016 Blanc de Blancs. For something out of the ordinary that pairs well with food, check out the 2018 Albariño Extra Brut from Carboniste.