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Monterey County is large, with about 40,000 acres of vineyards; its winegrowing centerpiece is Santa Lucia Highlands. Since the late 1990s, the Highlands have gained national attention thanks to the success of vineyards such as Pisoni, Mer Soleil and Garys', as well as a wave of new producers, including Roar and Morgan.
In recent years, a host of small wineries, like Figge Cellars, have set up shop. They provide visitors to the Monterey Coast with plenty of opportunities to discover new things. You can taste a range of wines in both Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley—two areas where a number of wineries have opened tasting rooms in close proximity to one another.
Please note that prices, hours of operation and wine availability can often change, and we recommend that you call ahead before you go. For more wineries worldwide, see our Winery Search database.
About 12 miles inland on Carmel Valley Road, this country village is only a few blocks long, but there are nearly 20 tasting rooms. The wines are made elsewhere in the county, often in remote places, but these producers believe there is strength in numbers. Highlights include:
Stroll around the charming village of Carmel to find a dozen tasting rooms mingled among the art galleries and restaurants. The pleasure here is discovering something new, and since Carmel doesn't use numbered addresses, you have to be open to exploring. These are small wineries, family owned, and you'll rarely find their wines outside the area. Highlights include:
More detailed listings for these venues follow below. Click on the name to view the full page.
One of Carmel Valley's dependable producers, Bernardus produces about a dozen different bottlings, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as various tiers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from prime vineyards—Gary's, Pisoni and Rosella's—in Santa Lucia Highlands. The winery, founded in 1990, is located elsewhere, but the tasting room is an attractive space in a building in the village of Carmel Valley.Parsonage
This is a house that Chardonnay built. Launched in 1983 by Robert Talbott, the winery makes its best wines from two estate vineyards: Diamond T Estate in the mountains above Carmel Valley and the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands. The winery proper, located in Gonzales over the mountains in the Salinas Valley, added a tasting room in 2010, but this more central tasting room, clustered with others in a few blocks of Carmel Valley Village, is still the main draw.Figge
One of archeologist Michael Thomas' biggest finds is the now rejuvenated San Saba Vineyard, in Monterey, just outside the Santa Lucia Highlands. Thomas has renamed the project Wrath, inspired by a Led Zeppelin tune, and has been producing a string of outstanding Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay bottlings from the estate and other top sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands—these are now poured in a tasting room amid the galleries and restaurants of Carmel. Thomas, along with his mother and business partner, Barbara Lemmon, purchased the San Saba winery and its vineyards in 2007 from Thomas' stepfather. Thomas then began replanting the 68-acre site, previously Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and making improvements with the help of local grower Steve McIntyre. As an archeologist, Thomas has a teaching post at the University of Texas, Austin, and he runs two excavation sites in Italy, including one that appears to have been a wine distribution center that was destroyed by the Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption in A.D. 79.Boekenoogen
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