Play & Shop: Monterey County encompasses nine AVAs and 40,000 acres of vineyards. Its proximity to the coast makes for cooler, foggy conditions, afternoon winds and a longer growing season. Drip irrigation is common during drought years. Dry farming isn’t always an option as vines become stressed.
Indulge in a sampling of wines of the region by simply following the Carmel Wine Walk. Set your own pace and don’t worry about driving, because each tasting room is just blocks from the other.
Galante Vineyards, well known in the Monterey area, reflects its beginnings as a cattle ranch in the label and tasting room designs (owner Jack Galante’s great grandfather founded Carmel). The accolades they’ve received mirror their passion for wine and livestock (several from Houston’s livestock/rodeo/wine competition). Their wines are made from estate grown grapes in Carmel Valley. Known for their Cabernet Sauvignons, don’t miss Rancho Galante, a 2010 Cabernet. Equally as delicious are the 2009 Ace High Malbec and the 2012 Almond Flat Pinot Noir.
Keeping it in the family, Dawn’s Dream is just around the corner. Owned by Jack’s wife, she has opened a fun tasting room for her “approachable” wines. Dawn named some Pinots for her daughters; in addition, find the rich 2010 Carmel Valley Pinot.
Caraccioli Cellars designed a sexy, intimate, lounge-like space to taste their distinctive wines. Celebrated for sparkling and still wines, the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are from the Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH). This boutique winery uses French Oak barrels for their whole production, resulting in smooth wines that burst with fruit flavors. Especially good are the Brut Cuvée and Brut Rosé, both 2007s and the still young 2009 Pinot Noir.
Scheid Vineyards, on a prime corner with lots of light in the modern tasting room, grows estate grapes in the Salinas Valley. Smart, focused and dedicated to their craft, the Scheid clan embraces sustainability in their farming, business practices and commitment to the community. Choose from several flights and enjoy multifaceted wines like the 2009 Pinot Noir Clone 115 Reserve, the 2009 “Isabelle” Sparkling and the 2011 Chardonnay Reserve SLH.
Wrath Wines uses grapes from their Monterey estate vineyard as well as sources from growers in SLH. Their wines reflect the unique terroir. “Wrath” combines their zeal for winemaking with the force of Mother Nature (fog and wind) in the vineyards. Favorites include these 2011s from SLH: Pinot Noir Tondré Grapefield and the Syrah Doctor’s Vineyard.
If wine isn’t your thing, spend the day walking on the beach downtown or along the boardwalk at the Inn at Spanish Bay, biking, hiking and of course, playing golf at one of the area’s signature links. Fitness in all forms (swimming, tennis, workout sessions, yoga) are available at The Spanish Bay Club for resort guests (831-647-7438).
In charismatic Carmel, every other storefront is a boutique or art gallery. National chains like Tommy Bahama, Kate Spade and Sur La Table are in Carmel Plaza. And for everything golf, visit The Shops of The Inn at Spanish Bay.
Special Events: Monterey Wine Festival (June 6-8, /); Monterey Beer Festival (June 14th, ); 33rd Annual Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout (June 1-2,
Carmel Visitors Bureau; Monterey County Visitors Bureau; Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb