Best wines for your fall picnic

Jacqueline Zonkowski
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Our wine picks to make your fall picnic memorable

The weather in the fall is both beautiful and unpredictable. So when you’re busy planning ahead what wines to bring, make it easy! Grab a few bottles of red and a few bottles of white. Here are some of our favorite wines from the Pacific Northwest that are perfect for your fall picnic!  


Grenache from Washington State

This red varietal is a prototypical fall wine that will be perfect for your picnic basket on a cool autumn day. With flavors of candied fruit, grilled plum, leather, dried herbs, and cinnamon, it is hard to fathom a more perfect sip of wine than Grenache while enjoying a nice fall breeze as leaves of red, orange, and yellow fall from the tree above your picnic blanket. Because of Grenache’s high alcohol content, medium body, and tannins with slightly lower acidity, it pairs nicely with fattier foods. Get a little adventurous and pack some duck or goose pâté with a baguette and some honey. Also, try some sharper cheese such as feta with olives or a salad with goat cheese, baby spinach, arugula, and a balsamic vinaigrette topped with sunflower seeds. 


Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is a prime example of the richer, darker reds that bring us comfort in the fall and can even take us right into the winter months. A Northern California and Washington staple, Cab Franc is the parent grape for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, two of the most popular fall wines. Still a fruit-forward red with hints of dark fruit and raspberry on the palate, Cab Franc has robust tones of tobacco, vanilla, sweet spices, and even chili peppers. That sounds like fall in a glass. Include some soft cheeses in your basket, such as brie, camembert, and goat.


California Chardonnay

Chardonnay is one of the most versatile and popular grapes, thanks to its ability to transform through terroir and winemaking techniques. A lightly oaked and full-bodied California Chardonnay is another great fall sip. You’ll pick up buttery flavors with hints of baking spices, perfect with pear and brie crostini, or if you’re adventurous, bring some smoked salmon and see how the chardonnay dances on your tongue with the fattiness of the fish. 


Rhône White Blends of Oregon

Rhône White Blends are made from any combination of varieties found in the Rhône Valley region of France, such as Viognier, Marsanne, Bourboulenc, Clairette, etc. These grape varieties are now grown worldwide, including Northern California and Oregon. Each of the Rhône Valley grape varieties grown in the Pacific Northwest are generally light fruit-forward wines and delicious. However, when they are blended in just the right harmony by master winemakers, they are transformed into a well-balanced and structured wine. These artfully crafted blends contain floral aromatics, stone fruit and citrus flavors, slight minerality, and high acidity. Many winemakers also age white blends in 2-4-year-old French Oak barrels to give them a decadent creamy texture similar to that of a Chardonnay. This refreshing wine will go nicely with sharp alpine swiss cheese such as Gruyère or Emmentaler on crackers with honey.


Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wines are not just a nice transition from warm to cool weather. They are perfect for a fall picnic and pair nicely with various food items that will make your picnic layout one to remember. For example, try a Blanc de Blancs from Oregon’s Willamette Valley or sparkling wines from California’s Sonoma Valley. The Blanc de Blanc is a 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine that brings out the flinty terroir of the region with elegant flavors of green apple, lemon custard, and vanilla. Pair it with a charcuterie board or even some chocolate-covered strawberries!

We didn’t forget about food-versatile rosé, but those beauties deserve our full attention. Be sure to check out our article on why rosé is your perfect year-round sip. Cheers!

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About Jacqueline Zonkowski

As an avid traveler, Jacqueline started finding herself in popular wine regions around the world, fueling her passion for food and wine. When she isn't traveling you will find her at home with a glass of wine in hand and a smile on her face while tasting new recipes with her Chef husband. She received her WSET Level II Certification with Distinction, Argentina Wine Specialist, and Oregon Wine Expert certifications. Jacqueline has worked in the wine marketing and hospitality industry for many years. She continues to increase her wine knowledge and looks forward to creating her own wine one day.