Richard A. Moran

Rich Moran

The wild turkeys are taunting me. They are in the vineyards and the fields in large rafters seemingly not concerned about the impending holiday. (For the uninformed about turkey groups, when a few of them gather together for camaraderie, the group is called a “rafter,” not a flock.) A few of the turkeys were even raftering nonchalantly around the swimming pool.

They must be aware of the urban legend has it that wild turkeys are gamey and not so good to eat. The turkeys themselves built that legend, I suspect. People tell me that the legend is not true and wild turkeys are quite delicious. Urban legend aside, hunters tell me that although we see the wild turkeys everywhere, it’s not easy to bag one. Wild turkeys, they say, have a “sixth sense” and know when they are being hunted. So forget chewing on a wild turkey this Thanksgiving, and as for me, I will continue to limit my hunting to gophers, although no gophers will show up next to the relish tray as an appetizer. So off to the grocery store we go for the turkey as well as everything else that makes for a day of feasting although like most years, we have only a loose idea of who exactly will show up for Thanksgiving dinner and we like it that way.

Thanksgiving is everyone’s favorite holiday. It’s a family time without all the stress of gifts and parties that is now Christmas. It’s a reflective time without all the guilt of trying to keep up with the Jones’s at their fabulous party. And it’s a time to travel to wine country. The song “Over the river and through the woods” could now be completed with “to wine country we will go”. Forget Grandmother’s house.

And why not? What better place could there be to relax, eat good food, drink good wine and chat with loved ones in front of the crackling fire? OK, probably no fire this year, just the food and good wine. Although we love the thought of always hosting, Thanksgiving in the country can present a few challenges that make us consider going out for dinner every year. But we never do.

Thanks to fire threats, this year could be one without electricity. We’ve learned how to deal with the occasional outages but when there is no electricity there is also no water or pretty much any thing else that we need. It takes a long time to cook a turkey on an old rusty Weber grill and we hope we don’t have to.

We try to maintain “the more the merrier” attitude. A lot of people makes for good touch football games but makes for a lot of work. Guests always ask, “What can I bring?” What they are really saying is, “I am busy and I don’t know how to cook, that’s why I am coming to your house, so would you like me to bring a can of cranberries or a garlic cheese spread from Trader Joe’s?” No matter, whether people bring a beautiful pie or a bottle of White Zinfandel, the dinner is always grand, just like Scrooge’s nephew’s holiday party.

It’s important to remember that when people are invited to wine country, they come. And at Thanksgiving, they come sometimes even if they are not invited.

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday. I am thankful all year but on this one day, as I look around at my family and friends and the “orphan” at the table who I just met, I am filled with thanks. I am a lucky guy and a big part of that is that I am able to share it with those I love in the Wine Country.

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Rich Moran roams around wine country reminding people to give thanks.