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Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

A warm and sunny after-Thanksgiving weekend proved to be both a bit of a blessing and a curse for a 25-plus year tradition at southern Humboldt's Briceland Vineyards.

For those who attended, the warm sunny days offered a pleasant wine tasting experience, but it may also have led to a lower attendance, with some taking advantage of enjoying the outdoors in other ways.

Briceland Vineyard's General Manager Andrew Morris estimated that approximately 250 people visited the small winery on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 for the annual Thanksgiving Weekend wine tasting. “The turnout was larger on Saturday,” Morris said, “and wine sales were good (over the two days).”

He was especially impressed that three of the four red wines that were being poured were very well received, in light of the fact that they had just been bottled the week before the tasting. “Last Tuesday morning (Nov. 27), we had no pinot noir bottled,” Morris said. At the tasting event, both a Humboldt (Ronda's Vineyard) and a Mendocino (Anderson Valley) pinot noir were being poured.

Also new this year was a 2011 Lake County Syrah, made from grapes grown in the Kelseyville area. Last year, Briceland Vineyards served a Syrah made from grapes grown in Mendocino County.

The winery now also offers a Zinfandel, made from grapes grown in Mendocino County. The first vintage, a 2011, was bottled last fall. “I first made the zinfandel to distract consumers from buying our pinot noir,” Morris said, which sells out very fast after it becomes available. “It didn't work however,” Morris said, “as after they tasted the zinfandel, they bought both.”

At the Thanksgiving wine tasting event, Briceland Vineyards also offered a barrel sample of merlot, produced from grapes grown in Orleans. “We've been buying grapes from the Pierce family for several years,” Morris said. The merlot will be bottled soon, and will be the first merlot bottled under the Briceland Vineyards label. There are also plans to bottle a cabernet sauvignon and a Bordeaux blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and petite verdot, all from grapes grown in Orleans.

Food at the wine tasting event included oysters, cheese, vegan and gluten-free appetizers, a “strange-flavored eggplant” spread, and a ham loaf made from a pig raised on the Briceland Vineyards property.

Overall the 2013 grape growing season was very good in southern Humboldt. “The last few years have been close to ideal,” Morris said. “We had an early spring and a long, generous fall with no bad heat spikes at the end.” Harvest began in mid-September and the season comes to an end at the end of the wine tasting event.

Briceland Vineyards also has a similar annual wine tasting event on Memorial Day weekend.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Briceland Vineyards General Manager Andrew Morris poured wine during the Thanksgiving Day weekend wine tasting event, a tradition which has been happening for more than 25 years.