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Visiting Monterey and Carmel

Favorite Wineries, Restaurants & Sample Itineraries

Monterey Carmel Winery Visit

Monterey and Carmel are beautiful towns on California's Central Coast to visit for many reasons: the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Pebble Beach, the stunning coastline - plus some great wines. Whereas Napa has become more or less synonymous with wine, this area is a bit more diverse - but that doesn't make their wines any less spectacular.

Here is our overview of the Monterey / Carmel region and our tips for wineries to taste at, as well as recommendations for lodging and dining:

Monterey, Carmel and Carmel Valley

Monterey is located about 100 miles south of San Francisco, on Monterey Bay, and is known for its amazing sea-life as well as a rich history of fishing. Just a bit further along the south is Carmel-by-the-Sea  (or simply, just 'Carmel'), also a beautiful natural area on the sea. Carmel has been home to a vibrant community of artists, poets and creative-types for more than a century, and is also known for having Clint Eastwood as mayor during the '80's. Reaching inland from Carmel to the south and east, Carmel Valley is home to many celebrated wineries and vineyards. Since it's a coastal (and therefore) cooler region, specialties are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, although some other varieties can also be found.

Most people visiting the area aren't coming just for the wine - this is a popular tourist destination for many reasons. But whether your focus of a trip is wine, or you're fitting in some wines while you're doing other activities, there are tasting and touring options for all kinds of itineraries.

(This website offers a great local winery map)

Monterey Itinerary - In-Town in Monterey

If you're staying in Monterey and don't have time for a trip to Carmel, you can still enjoy some tasting right in-town.

A Taste of Monterey - Right on Cannery Row with overlooking Monterey Bay, there isn't another spot that's as convenient or with better views. This visitors' center offers tastings from a variety of vineyards with different tiers and tasting menus. A good choice if you're only planning for one stop!
Bargetto Winery - Also conveniently located in Cannery Row, Bargetto has makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Regan Estate in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains.
Ventana Vineyards - A few minutes outside of downtown, this winery offers some more unusual varieties and blends, like their "Due Amici" - a mix of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Carmel Valley Itinerary - Just Outside of Carmel

You don't have to travel too far from either Monterey or Carmel to spend a bit of time tasting in Carmel Valley. Out of town, there is a more rustic, vine-filled setting that's quite pretty.

Chateau Julien - The first winery on Carmel Valley Road, their beautiful chateau-style winery building is like a gateway to the area. Best-known for their flagship Merlot, as well as Chardonnay.
Talbott Vineyards - Inspired by the hilly, shale sites of Burgundy, area wine pioneer Robert Talbott developed the Sleepy Hollow and Diamond T Vineyard sites for their similar profile - with the classic Burgundian varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Bernardus Winery - Bernardus' Marinus is a Bordeaux-style red blend and their most well-known wine. We also love their Chardonnay.

Where to Stay & Dine in Monterey & Carmel

Hotels:

In Monterey:
 - Go luxe downtown at the brand new Clement Monterey (an Intercontinental City Hotel) ... or ...
 - Enjoy a natural setting with a cozy bungalow right on the beach at the Sanctuary Beach Resort

In Carmel / Carmel Valley:
 - Embrace the quirky history of Carmel, and its dog-friendly attitude, with the Cypress Inn Bed & Breakfast ... or ...
 - Stay in the heart of wine country at Bernardus Lodge, located right on the winery estate property

Restaurants:

In Monterey:
The Sardine Factory - The staple fine-dining restaurant of Monterey. Food is fun, the wine list is deep, and the decor is extravagant yet quirky at once.
In Carmel / Carmel Valley:
Casanova - Focused on rustic French and Italian dishes in a beautiful, Mediterranean-style setting.
 

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