In 1996, when I was leaving Wine Spectator magazine in San Francisco to move to the Central Coast, my favorite editor/critic told me not to become friends with winemakers. He thought it would weaken my credibility as a wine columnist.

I didn’t pay much attention as I knew he had several close friends in the wine business. Despite his warning, when I met winemaker Lane Tanner, we became lifelong friends. She has an amazing talent for producing wines that are beautifully balanced and incredible in their ability to age many years.

Knowing her well was the reason I called on her first to share her Thanksgiving wine pairings.

I asked Lane if she stuffs the turkey because that’s what my beloved grandmother did. She was a better cook than some chefs, and I loved her traditional dinner.

Lane, however, likes her stuffing simple — just bread cubes, onions and celery. But I loved my family’s recipe which included bread cubes, onions, celery, cooked ground pork, Pippin apples and chestnuts. And her turkey was always roasted with stuffing.

Lane told me she thinks orange wines, meaning rosés made from varietals like pinot gris, are ideal for the Thanksgiving table. She explained that orange wines are white wines with extended skin contact, which give the wine more color. She did add, “Pinot noir is always on our table.” She loves Thanksgiving, and we both share a love of pinot noir for the traditional holiday table.

Lane has been the winemaker with Will Henry at Lumen Wines in Los Alamos since its beginning. Tanner makes several wines that also pair perfectly with myriad flavors on the Thanksgiving table.

While admitting she enjoys her own wines, which include grenache blanc, pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir, grenache and Lumen Escence — their orange wine — she also enjoys wines made by her winemaker husband, Rick Hill. He produces excellent wines for Tantara in Santa Maria Valley, and his own brand, Labyrinth. Any of their wines would be a great choice for the Thanksgiving table and at any other special event.

Personally, I always have sparkling or rosé, a white and a red wine open for dinner parties. In the Lumen newsletter, which you can read at, Will Henry explains the process of making orange wines:

“For the uninitiated, red wines typically are fermented along with their skins, and sometimes even left to age with them for a period of a few weeks to even months. The fermenting juice extracts color and flavor from the skins of a red grape, giving the wine its color and a good deal of its tannin. For this reason, red wines generally need a little more time to come around — in other words, for the tannins to soften enough to where they are pleasant to drink. White wines, on the other hand, are typically pressed as soon as they enter the winery, and the lightly colored juice then ferments on its own. This world order has existed for thousands of years in relative harmony until the bad boy orange came along.”

Not all varietals work well to make orange wines, they said. Picking early is crucial and finding the right variety of grapes is the key. They found that locally grown pinot gris was ideal, and have made an exceptional wine from it that is only available to Lumen wine club members. If it doesn’t sell out (it will), then some bottles will be available to the public at their tasting room in Los Alamos. That may be enough to compel you to join the club.

Like all of us, Lane is appreciative for many reasons during this year’s holiday season. “I’m thankful that we can go out to dine again,” she said. “People have so much more to be thankful for this year.”

Lumen Wines tasting room is located at 458 Bell St., at Pico in the Los Alamos General Store, and is open every day except Monday, and by appointment only. Tuesday through Friday, hours are 3 until 8 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, they are open from noon until 8 p.m.

To learn more about Henry’s restaurant Pico, visit

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