Interested in literally tasting the jaw-dropping scenery of the Carmel/Monterey coastline—from rugged mountains to wave-caressed coves? Savor one of Monterey County’s world-class wines: The flavor springs from the landscape, concocted out of the region’s one-of-a-kind terroir.
A Premier Wine Destination
A mild Mediterranean climate—blessed with equal shares of warm sun and cooling marine fog—explains much of the diversity and productivity of Monterey County’s vineyards. Since the 1960s, vintners have reveled in the ideal grape-growing conditions in the coastal hills. Today, an impressive eight American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) pepper the area—reflective of the varied microenvironments here—and scores of growers produce 42 varietals from 40,000 acres of vineyards.
With that sort of production, it’s no surprise Monterey County has become a globally renowned wine-growing and wine-tourism hub. In 2013, Wine Enthusiast Magazine even ranked the county one of the top 10 travel destinations on the planet for wine lovers.
Each Monterey County winery is its own magical embodiment of the physical setting. As an example, consider the stunningly beautiful Chateau Julien Wine Estate, exquisitely set in the hills along Carmel Valley Road about five miles from Carmel-by-the-Sea. You’ll be amazed by the elegance of Bob and Patty Brower’s 16 acres, anchored by the grand Chateau itself—complete with a roaring fireplace and an 18-foot tasting table fashioned from mahogany. Chateau Julien offers daily tastings and also accommodates private events.
Visiting multiple wineries is a pleasant way to spend a day in the Monterey countryside; it's also an ideal means of surveying the full breadth of the region's growing zones and terroir patterns.
Annual Regional Wine Festivals
Beyond dropping by individual wineries for tastings, Monterey County hosts organized large-scale viticultural events. In early June, the Monterey Wine Festival—the oldest in the state—showcases the full array of the region’s wines as well as plenty of fantastic cuisine produced by regional chefs. Later in the summer is the Winemakers’ Celebration, which features more opportunities to interface directly with local vintners while sipping their vintages.
All in all, our coast is an absolute wine hotspot—why not drink in the scenery in more ways than one?