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Bending Branch Winery


Sara Potter
December 14, 2023 | Sara Potter

Bending Branch staff picks for the holidays

What are the Bending Branch staff drinking for the holidays?
We’ve tasted them all. Here are our top picks!


Dr. Bob Young, Bending Branch CEO & Executive Winemaker

I plan to enjoy the Traveler Bourbon as an aperitif before Christmas dinner and also to toast the New Year. And Double Barrel Tannat will be a great pairing with our Kentucky country ham.

Tom Kartrude, Tasting Room Associate

For Christmas Eve this year we may work on a duck cassoulet paired with the 2019 Estate Tannat, Lost Pirogue Vineyard. While we’re digging into the wine closet, we’ll probably pull a bottle of the 2020 Ice Wine to share with Santa. Steak Diane is on the Christmas Day menu, paired with my wife’s favorite: D’Elissagaray Basque Blend.

Susie Boswell, Wine Club Manager

The chef will need help in the kitchen and that starts with Blanc de Blancs. The 2019 Double Barrel Cabernet will be finding its way to the table this year. I’ll be sure to hold a bottle (or 2) back at room temperature for after dinner. Letting this wine warm slightly completely changes it. D’Elissagaray Basque Blend is our must-have EVERY holiday! You just can’t go wrong. Anyone need a nightcap and a spot by the fire? Pour that 1840 High Rye Kentucky Straight Bourbon over a clear ice ball and put your feet up.

Alison Young, Bending Branch President & Master Blender

I will be enjoying my new favorite 2019 Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon during the holidays!

Judy Sullivan, Hospitality Manager

For me, the Sparkling Picpoul Blanc is a favorite for everyday and special occasions. I love it with desserts like cheesecake and baklava, but I can drink it any time of any day!

Tammy Thrun, Tasting Room Associate

My 2 picks:
1. Double Barrel Tannat - With its bold flavors and slightly creamy finish, pairs well with a ribeye steak with blue cheese topping.

2. “The Traveler” Bourbon - With just placing the Bourbon to the lips, a party is ignited!!! Flavors just bursting … tobacco, hints of cherry, with a hint of sweetness.

Greg Stokes & Deborah Elissagaray, Ursa Winemakers

We've really been enjoying the Ursa Mencía as one would a Beaujolais Nouveau with our holiday regulars (turkey, ham) and of course the D'Elissagaray Basque Blend with our traditional lamb.

Kim McCallum, Tasting Room Associate

This year my favorite wine is the 2017 Reserve Charbono. With notes of blueberry, tart cherry and a hint of spice, it’s elegant, silky smooth, and absolutely delicious! We paired it with our family Christmas dinner of beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce, pan fried potatoes and roasted broccoli. A definite repeat! Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Charles Myers, Executive Bourbon Steward & Special Projects Director

The winter holidays are a time for celebrating and visiting with friends and loved ones. I can think of NO better way to celebrate the holidays than with a nice warm hard apple cider (several recipes online) using our ChickenDuck Wheated Bourbon! It warms the body and soul and makes for great times among friends and family. Pair that with caramel covered popcorn, for your get together, and good times will be had by all! P.S. The colder weather brings sore throats, but ChickenDuck makes an excellent hot toddy as well.

Jennifer Cernosek, General Manager

The Bending Branch 1840 Culinaria Blend is my go-to bourbon for the holidays. Aside from the Traveler, this is my favorite Bending Branch bourbon right now. This 3-barrel blend selected by the Culinaria team is a unique combination of sweet and sour mash from the classic BR21 mash bill. While I like it best as a neat pour, this bourbon shines as the main component in a Manhattan. My recipe calls for 1.5 ounces Bending Branch 1840 Culinaria Blend, .5 ounce Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, and 1 Woodford Reserve cherry. Shake vigorously with ice before pouring. It’s best enjoyed in a thin-rimmed martini glass.

And as a bonus, $10 of each bottle sold goes to Culinaria, so you can sip while supporting a great organization. Culinaria is an internationally recognized non-profit with a focus on connecting people through food and beverage culture as an innovative approach to building community.

For wine, the 2020 Petit Verdot, Newsom Vineyards is a winner for the holidays (and all year). It is bold and has great texture. Every time I have a glass of this Petit Verdot, I’m appreciative of Neal and Janice Newsom for the great farming they do, and for granting us access to more of this fantastic fruit.

Jim Mitchell, Tasting Room Associate

For that special occasion - paired with a nice dinner - I really like the Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon … it’s a wonderful collaboration of a California Cabernet Sauvignon that made its way to Texas, where it was aged in Bending Branch 1840 4-Grain Bourbon barrels.

Lauren Elizondo, Marketing Assistant

I have so many favorite wines, but recently I've really been loving our Ursa 2021 Tannat Rosé. I plan on enjoying it with a cranberry cheese log and charcuterie while my family and I prep for Christmas dinner. Happy Holidays!

Carla Carter, Tasting Room Associate

My favorite variety is Petite Sirah. I love the Shell Creek Old Vine Petite Sirah, the bold plum/berry notes and smooth finish pairs well with a great pork roast, yams, and dirty rice.

Amy Wagner, Lab Technician

I will be having the 2022 Sauvignon Blanc from Ursa with my turkey dinner on Christmas Day. I am a fan of Tannat as well. The 2019 Tallent Tannat will also be open. That pairs well with anything from a pork roast to a holiday movie on the couch!

Jackie Swan, Tasting Room Associate

This holiday season we will enjoy glasses of Picpoul Blanc with our roasted turkey and cornbread dressing on Christmas Day. For dessert, bring out the Double Barrel Tannat with pieces of dark chocolate candy truffles and/or peanut brittle.

Chad Kurtz, Bending Branch Winery Assistant Winemaker

We will be drinking Sparkling Picpoul Blanc for any excuse we can come up with.

Will Thomas, Tasting Room Associate

We will be enjoying the 2019 Lucy's Reserve, Camp Lucy Vineyard. It is a lovely blend of Mourvèdre and Petit Verdot that will go well with the smoked Cornish hens on the menu for Christmas Day.

Sara Potter, Executive Marketing Coordinator

During the holidays, I will pull out some bottles that I’ve been holding on to for a while. We usually have a small gathering of wine-loving friends, and this year we may do a vertical tasting of Tempranillo or Petite Sirah from Newsom Vineyards. For additional Christmas cheer, I will also be making some High Rye ‘Ritas from ChickenDuck High Rye!

Terri Reusch, Tasting Room Associate

My favorite 2022 Sparkling Picpoul Blanc will be served on Christmas morning with our favorite brunch casseroles and fruit medley! As a new member of the Ursa Gold Rush Club - I will serve the Basque Blend with Christmas dinner, which will be prime rib this year with some caramelized roasted sweet potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Stephen Mergele, Ursa at Branch on High Tasting Room Manager

I’m going with 2020 Pinot Noir, full flavored but light on the palate.

Kyle Stokes, Ursa Assistant Winemaker

This holiday season I will be enjoying the new Ursa soon-to-be-released Alicante Bouschet. It is a savory wine with notes of cedar, spice, herbes de Provence and packed with boysenberry. Pair it with anything grilled or smoked, or with just a second glass of itself.

Tiffany Simmons, Senior Executive Assistant

I will definitely be enjoying some Sparkling Picpoul Blanc while preparing Christmas brunch. The 2019 Lost Pirogue Tannat has a special place in my heart! It will go great with our beef tenderloin for dinner. And there is nothing more perfect than a High Rye Bourbon old fashioned for a night cap!

Time Posted: Dec 14, 2023 at 11:16 AM Permalink to Bending Branch staff picks for the holidays Permalink