P!nk Threw Us a Wild and Wonderful Thanksgiving
The pop icon and owner of Two Wolves Winery in Santa Barbara knows how to holiday.
Call this Thanksgiving a tale of two women.
One, Alecia Moore, is a winemaker and vigneron. She grows her grapes on 25 acres of vines in Santa Barbara County. As fellow local winemaker Alison Thomson of L.A. Lepiane says, “It was funny meeting Alecia—we’re the same age; we have girls the same age; we both had dads named Jim; our moms were both nurses. It’s really weird. But she’s really dedicated, and her approach really jibes with mine.” She adds, “I knew this wasn’t just going to be some celebrity wine brand.”
That’s because the other woman is P!nk: superstar pop icon, given to belting out hit songs while flying acrobatically on wires over thousands of screaming fans. (And on key, by the way; no auto-tune for this singer.) They’re the same person—Alecia Moore is P!nk—but today, at the Thanksgiving dinner she’s throwing for her friends, it’s the winemaker who’s running the show.
Along with chef Robbie Grantham-Wise, of course. A lean Englishman in his fifties, Grantham-Wise has made a career cooking with rock stars: Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey. But he’s been cooking for Moore for 10 years now, and they have a kind of food-wine mind meld going on. The menu today— turkey smoked over oak barrel staves with red wine gravy, creamed corn grits, a red cabbage salad with baked cherries and sliced apples, and more—they came up with together. Still, Grantham-Wise says, “It’s really all about showing off the wine.”
By 3 p.m. Moore’s guests are down by the lake at the palapa—a kind of thatched-roof pavilion with no walls. It’s an excellent location, given Santa Barbara’s benign climate, for a lakeside Thanksgiving dinner. It’s also a frequent site for epic games of beer pong, “with Home Depot buckets and Wiffle balls,” Carey Hart, Moore’s husband, says. The group is a city-and-country combo: first, L.A. friends like actor Kerri Kenney-Silver and her husband, Steven; Grant Breding, who oversees retail at LACMA; and Reina Hidalgo, a choreographer and dancer in Moore’s band. Then there are local wine folk: Chad Melville and his wife, Mary; Alison Thomson, Moore’s assistant winemaker; and Moore’s vineyard manager, Ben Merz, and his wife, Kim. A light breeze wafts the scent of smoldering sage bundles through the air. Music—“Bad Luck” by Neko Case, “Pa’lante” by Hurray for the Riff Raff, “Timshel” by Mumford & Sons—also floats through from the outdoor speakers at the house above.
When the first course, a salad of shaved fennel and celery, goat cheese, and pickled grapes from Moore’s vineyard, arrives, people have already started opening bottles of Two Wolves rosé. Made with Grenache from her vineyard, it’s crisp and refreshing, full of bright strawberry-raspberry notes. “If I were going to say something about Thanksgiving,” Moore says, getting everyone’s attention, “it’s that it ought to be an ode to the Native Americans that really own this land.” You get the sense she means not just her land but all the land across the USA; there’s a general murmur of agreement around the table. A few moments later, glass of wine in hand, she’s talking to Ben Merz about her last tour: “We had this two-and-a-half-minute video we’d play, which was sort of me from 19 to now, and it mentioned Black Lives Matter, and I’ve got all this diversity on stage with me—black, white, female, male, gay, straight. One show, out in the audience, there’s this bearded motorcycle guy looking really put upon by all this. And next to him is this gay guy in rainbow spandex ... and by the end of the show they’re both having a great time dancing together! That’s what music does, and what wine and food do, too.” She pauses, wiggles, and looks irked. “This chair is broken—Carey Hart! Do you have any superglue?”
Hart, who’s giving their two-year-old son, Jameson, slices of apple, calls back, “No!” To Jameson he says, “Straight off the tree, bud.”
“Apple!” says Jameson cheerfully.
“What kind of a man are you?” Moore says.
“A man who doesn’t use superglue. I weld things,” says Hart. To Jameson: “Yeah, bud. That’s right. Apple.”
With the turkey, which is stunning, surrounded by roasted squash, corn, and sweet potatoes, Moore pours her 2016 Cabernet Franc. “It’s my star,” she says. The wine lives up to that. Intense and layered, it’s ample proof of Chad Melville’s comments earlier: Moore isn’t just a celebrity name attached to a wine brand. Whenever she’s on her property, she’s out in the vineyards working, and during harvest she’s in the winery full-time, tasting, punching down the caps on fermenting tanks of grapes, making blending calls. Alison Thomson, her assistant winemaker, supplies some technical knowledge from a UC Davis degree in viticulture. She’s been here from the start, working side by side with Moore, and says, “It’s really cool to come up with a whole new program. What are we going to do? Rosé? Sémillon? It’s like, let’s just try stuff! Alecia loves to experiment. And the vineyard is amazing—the Syrah we have planted down there is some of the best Syrah I’ve ever worked with.” (Side note: Chad Melville’s Syrahs are some of the best in the state, and since that’s who Thomson worked with prior to meeting Moore, she knows whereof she speaks.)
Before dessert, Moore stands up and pings a glass with her knife. “I want to take a vote!” There are 18 people around the table, and she wants to know which of her wines they feel is the food-friendliest. Rosé? The Cab Franc? The Cabernet Sauvignon?
The vote splits evenly, and Moore looks mock-aghast. “Six-six-six? Great. So basically we’re channeling Ozzy Osbourne.”
Everyone’s drinking and eating, everyone’s having fun, and feelings of thanks for all this—friends, food, a beautiful day—are in the air. Moore playfully recalls another Thanksgiving; her worst ever, she says. “Me and Carey were in our early twenties, living in Sherman Oaks, and his dad shows up at 10 a.m. with three bottles of Patrón. Downhill from there.” The meal ended with a food fight involving mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. The turkeys themselves were frozen (“I was like 22; no one told me I had to thaw them”), the dog ran off with a turkey leg, a cigarette left on an oven mitt set the bedroom on fire, and eventually Moore ended up trying to slash the tires on Hart’s F-250 truck with a kitchen knife because she was pissed off at him, landing in the hospital with 13 stitches in her hand “because that’s my lucky number.” Finally, at 11 p.m., everyone ate. “And we’ve been together 17 years now,” she adds sweetly.
Hart shrugs. “My family’s Irish. At our Thanksgivings, by 3 p.m. someone’s crying and someone’s bleeding, and by 5 everyone’s happy again.”
Today, no one’s crying or bleeding, and everyone is very happy indeed with the final pairing, which is the Two Wolves Petit Verdot, an intense but brightly tart red, with Moore’s own sweet potato pie. Does the pairing work? She wants to know. Down the table, Kerri Kenney-Silver says, “It’s unexpected and weird and funky and awesome.”
Moore looks happy. “Some things just work,” she says. “Sort of like a 39-year-old butch female in a tutu flying through the air singing love songs to children.”
“Forty-two sold-out dates in Australia,” Reina Hidalgo says.
“Hey, cheers to that!” Moore replies, raising her glass.
Alecia Moore’s Two Wolves wines, which she poured at her Thanksgiving celebration, are available directly from the winery. Visit twowolveswine.com for information. See pinkspage.com for where to catch P!nk on her next tour.
2017 Two Wolves Grenache Rosé
Moore refused to publicly release this initial vintage of her lively, Grenache-based rosé—“If I put a pink wine out first? ‘P!nk’s rosé’? That’d be awful!”—but the upcoming 2019 vintage will actually be available next spring.
2016 Two Wolves Cabernet Sauvignon ($90)
Santa Barbara County’s sun-warmed climate comes through in this robust, luscious Cabernet; its black- cherry compote richness is hard to resist.
2016 Two Wolves Cabernet Franc ($60)
Cabernet Franc is more often used in blends than bottled alone, but Moore loves it, and with good reason—when grown and vinified with care, its tea- leaf aromas and fine-boned structure provide remark- able elegance.
2016 Two Wolves Petit Verdot ($60)
Petit Verdot’s electric purple hue comes through in this intense red. Think tart berries and the scent of violets and you’re on the right track.