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
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
(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
Where to Stay & Dine in Monterey & Carmel
- 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
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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