Your Guide to Monterey Wine Country

Your Guide to Monterey Wine Country

Mon, 01/08/2024 - 15:43 -- johnk

Monterey's Lone Cyprus 

Monterey's breathtaking vistas, sprawling terrain, and coastal splendor perfectly complement our exceptional wines and unequaled hospitality. Discover, explore, and embrace the pride of Monterey for an unforgettable experience, and become a part of the Monterey Wines Community. Visit the Tasting Rooms of Monterey, Carmel By-The-Sea, and beautiful Carmel Valley. Enjoy Monterey's coastal beach-side charm and intimate venues to learn why Monterey/Carmel was voted as one of the top five worldwide wine destinations by the Wine Enthusiast. Carmel Valley has had a wine history since the 1800s. As you visit you will detect vineyards that peppered this rugged, rustic region. Plan Ride Stay Eat Wine Vineyards Varietals Events. Monterey's wineries and tasting rooms offer a taste of Europe on the California coast. Monterey Wine Country is unequaled for its tasting rooms and here are found in a few locations.

Cannery Row Street Sign 

History/ The Monterey AVA's


The Monterey American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a wine region located in central California, USA. Designated as an AVA in 1984, the Monterey AVA covers a vast area that includes parts of Monterey County. This region is known for its diverse microclimates and soils, making it suitable for the cultivation of a wide variety of grape varieties.

Here are some key points in the history of the Monterey AVA:

Early History: The history of viticulture in the Monterey region dates back to the Spanish missionaries who established missions in California in the 18th century. However, commercial wine production in the area gained momentum in the late 19th century.

Prohibition Era: Like many other wine regions in the United States, Monterey suffered during the Prohibition era (1920-1933). During this time, vineyards were uprooted, and wine production came to a halt. After the repeal of Prohibition, the wine industry slowly began to recover.

Modern Viticulture: In the mid-20th century, the wine industry in Monterey started to gain recognition for its unique terroir. The region's coastal influence, with cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean and a variety of microclimates, proved ideal for growing grapes. The first plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay began to flourish.

Monterey AVA Designation: The Monterey AVA was officially designated in 1984 by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). This recognition acknowledged the distinctiveness of the region's climate, topography, and soils, which contribute to the character of the wines produced.

Grape Varieties: Monterey is known for its versatility in grape cultivation. While Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are notable varieties, the region also successfully grows other varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Riesling.

Sub-AVAs: Within the Monterey AVA, there are several sub-AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) that highlight specific characteristics of certain areas. These include the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, Arroyo Seco AVA, and San Lucas AVA, among others.

Wine Industry Growth: Over the years, the Monterey wine industry has continued to grow, and the region has gained a reputation for producing high-quality wines. Winemakers in Monterey often emphasize the cool-climate influences on their wines, creating well-balanced and expressive varietals.

Today, the Monterey AVA remains an important and dynamic wine region in California, contributing to the rich tapestry of the state's viticultural landscape.

Visit The Wineries & Tasting Rooms

Visit Tasting Rooms Carmel By-The-Sea & Monterey

wine, wine glasses, vino

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a top-rated wine destination with 18 tasting rooms all within walking distance from your hotel or inn. Did you know, Monterey County is one of California's largest premium wine regions? Carmel-by-the-Sea is the place to taste the county's award-winning wines. The people who will help you with your wine-tasting rooms are friendly and casual, and you'll often meet the winemaker.

Would you enjoy spending a weekend wine tasting without ever getting in and out of your car? Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea has become a real wine-tasting destination. The village has enough tasting rooms to keep visiting wine lover busy for several days. Just Park your car and explore the tasting rooms, check out the boutique shops, and stay for some delicious food. Start your wine-tasting exploration by considering a few suggestions here or go to our directory to find your next wine-tasting adventure.

With twenty tasting rooms in one square mile, it can be hard to choose which wineries to sample from. Here are just 3 or the twenty for you to consider visiting.

Chesebro Wines - With lots of 300 cases or less, and a penchant for offbeat, as well as mainstream varietals, Chesebro’s production may be small, but the effort is prolific. We are passionate about true varietal expression, as well as preserving the true voice of each vineyard site, from soil to glass. Come find out what artisan wines, lovingly farmed and made by hand, truly taste like.

Dawn's Dream Winery - Dawn’s dream has always been to help create dreams for others by donating her product, money, or time to support nonprofit organizations both locally and globally. Dawn’s passion for helping women and children equals her passion for making wine. Dawn has produced award-winning wines of exceptional quality and elegance while maintaining a business model that allows for the opportunity to give back. Please join us at Dawn's Dream Tasting Room in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea where we are surrounded by breathtaking scenery, fine wines, and delicious food. Whether you are out with a group of friends or your main squeeze, Dawn's Dream is the perfect getaway spot for exuberant or intimate gatherings where everyone--even your dog--is welcome. Our Tasting Room is a perfect venue for up to 50 guests for private events as well.

De Tierra Vineyards - De Tierra creates delicious, award-winning, and sustainably harvested wines to share from the unique terroir of Monterey County. De Tierra, as our name suggests, focuses on providing the best representation 'of the land'. Great wines begin in the vineyard, and it is our goal to translate the defining flavors of the place into great wine!

Anton & Michel - Comfortable sofa seating in front of the fireplace in the lounge invites casual drop-in enjoyment. Classic table-side service specialties (including flambé desserts) and elegance still prevail. Known for attentive and customized planning, Anton & Michel is a favorite for special events such as private parties and wedding rehearsals.

Located at the Court of the Fountains, Mission Street between Ocean and Seventh, in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea. Established in 1980. Excellence in food and wine, attentive service, and gracious hosting for more than four decades. Fresh, creative California cuisine and an award-winning wine list.

Aubergine Restaurant - The award-winning restaurant Aubergine is located at L’Auberge Carmel, Relais & Châteaux in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Executive Chef Justin Cogley, a Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef, and Executive Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza prepare skillful, ingredient-driven cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the region.

Chef Cogley’s cuisine showcases the finest ingredients with a razor-sharp balance of deference and innovation. The two menus served nightly highlight the best ingredients of the season, enhanced by skillful technique and an eye toward varied textures and flavors. Desserts, masterfully prepared by Chef Mendoza, are irresistible complements to Cogley’s savory courses.

The daily changing eight-course Tasting Menu ($150 per person) is an of-the-moment celebration of seasonality and creativity. An impressive 2,500-bottle wine cellar offers renowned and undiscovered selections from famed wine regions around the world, with a particular focus on wines from Monterey County and France. For a supplement, course-by-course wine pairings are available to enhance your experience.

Yafa Restaurant - Yafa Restaurant is a casual corner cafe serving delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes in a warm and homey environment. You will find Yafa is open every day of the week for dinner from 5 PM – 10 PM. While it is a casual eatery the food and the service have always been excellent.

Yafa was awarded Travelers' Choice in 2022 and by Michelin in 2021. Owner Benjamin Khader said he found out about the honor from family, friends and a reservation line that was ringing off the hook. Benjamin commented on the award; "I saw a whole bunch of text messages and a whole bunch of reservations came in online, and I thought I don't know what is going on."

The Bib Gourmand lists restaurants that serve exceptional meals for $40 or less. Each meal must include an appetizer, entree, and glass of wine or dessert. Yafa has a simple menu serving a blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes with flavors pulled from Khader's native Jordan.

Monterey County Wines

Carmel Valley Monterey Wine Trail

Plan Ride Stay Eat Wine Vineyards Varietals Events. Monterey's wineries and tasting rooms offer a taste of Europe on the California coast. Monterey Wine Country is unequaled for its tasting rooms and here are found in a few locations. You'll find more in the more densely developed hubs of Carmel Valley. Plan Ride Stay Eat Wine Vineyards Varietals Events. Carmel Valley offers more than a few quaint tasting rooms here and there. You will find a good number of tasting rooms that offer a taste of Europe on the California coast. Monterey Wine Country is unequaled for its tasting rooms and here are found in a few locations.

Carmel and Monterey, located on California's beautiful Central Coast, offer a range of excellent dining options, from fresh seafood to farm-to-table cuisine. Here are some of the best restaurants in Carmel and Monterey, known for their quality and diverse menus:

These are just a few excellent dining options in Carmel and Monterey. Keep in mind that reservations are often recommended, especially for popular restaurants, so it's a good idea to plan, particularly if you're visiting during peak dining times or weekends.

Carmel-by-The Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a delightful little village where tasting rooms seem to lurk around every corner along with boutiques of all sorts and eating establishments. Travel Food & Drink Restaurants Ocean View Restaurants Michelin Restaurants Food Features Ocean View Restaurants Artichoke Trail 10 Foodie Frolics 10 Places for a Hot Drink 10 Places to Have a Beer 10 Places for a Picnic Made in Monterey Artichoke Tips Sustainable Seafood Watch Wineries & Tasting Rooms Appellations Carmel Valley Wineries Carmel Wine Tasting Rooms Monterey Wine Tasting Rooms Salinas Valley Wineries Marina Wine Tasting Rooms Wine and Dine Itinerary Three Days in Monterey Wine Country Beer & Craft Breweries 10 Great Places to Have a Beer Farmers' Markets Food and Wine Events Share

River Road Wineries

There's River Road, which cuts through the farms and vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands, with a half-dozen spots peppered along the 20-mile route. You are bound to find a tasting room to your liking where you can sip delicious wine. On River Road, start at Wrath Wines tasting room on the northern edge of the appellation, where winemaker Sabrine Rodems makes vivid Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. There are also more avant-garde offerings like Falanghina aged in Amphora. Toward the southern end is Hahn Winery, perhaps with dinner or a Sunday brunch. Reservations are a must.

Salinas Valley Tasting Rooms

The Salinas Valley in California is known for its agricultural significance, particularly for growing lettuce and other vegetables. However, it may not be as well-known for the wines and the tasting rooms compared to some other regions in California.

Dining Near the Sea

Carmel and Monterey, located on California's beautiful Central Coast, offers excellent dining options, from fresh seafood to farm-to-table cuisine. Here are some of the best restaurants in Carmel and Monterey, known for their quality and diverse menus:

seafood, food, healthy

The Sardine Factory: Every city has that one-can’t-miss restaurant, where celebrities feel at home and every other guest feels like a celebrity. Since October 2, 1968, The Sardine Factory’s cachet has made dining in our historic Cannery Row setting a tradition for world leaders, sports heroes, and entertainment icons. Enjoy award-winning chef-prepared delectable creations of fresh, sustainable seafood and USDA Prime Aged Beef. The Sardine Factory has received Restaurant Hospitality Magazine’s “Best Wine List in America” award among so many other culinary, wine list, and service awards. Happy Hours and an affordable menu are a casual alternative to the other dining rooms.

The Restaurant at Mission Ranch: Enjoy picturesque views of the meadows and ocean while dining on classic American dishes and seafood at this historic restaurant.

Casanova: This cozy restaurant serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and offers a romantic, European-style ambiance with charming indoor and outdoor seating.

La Bicyclette: A popular spot for brunch and dinner, La Bicyclette offers a menu of rustic French and Italian dishes, including wood-fired pizzas and pastries.

Grasing's Coastal Cuisine: Known for its fresh seafood and farm-to-table approach, Grasing's serves a variety of dishes in a casual yet elegant setting.

seagull, Monterey, ocean

Dining in Monterey:

Passionfish: This sustainable seafood restaurant features a diverse menu with innovative and delicious dishes, including many vegetarian and vegan options.

Old Fisherman's Grotto: A classic seafood restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf, offering seafood platters, clam chowder, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

lamb, lamb shank, steak

Montrio Bistro: Located in a historic building, Montrio Bistro focuses on farm-to-table cuisine and offers a creative menu with dishes like wood-grilled artichokes and pork belly sliders.

Sea Harvest: A casual seafood spot that offers fresh catches of the day, including a variety of fish and chips options, clam chowder, and more.

Bistro Moulin: A cozy French bistro known for its classic French dishes, wine, and charming atmosphere.

Fishwife Seafood Restaurant: A family-friendly seafood restaurant serving everything from fish tacos to cioppino in a relaxed setting.

boats, ship, harbor

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a renowned aquarium located on Cannery Row in Monterey, California. It is known for its focus on marine conservation, research, and education. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, here's some information about the aquarium:

jellyfish, tentacles

Exhibits: The Monterey Bay Aquarium features a variety of exhibits showcasing marine life from the region and around the world. Popular exhibits include the Kelp Forest, Open Sea, Sea Otters, Penguins, and the Splash Zone.

Conservation and Research: The aquarium is actively involved in marine conservation efforts and supports research initiatives. It aims to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the oceans and marine ecosystems.

Seafood Watch Program: The Monterey Bay Aquarium is well-known for its Seafood Watch program, which provides sustainable seafood recommendations to consumers, helping them make choices that support healthy oceans.

Education Programs: The aquarium offers educational programs for visitors of all ages, including school programs, camps, and interactive exhibits to promote understanding and appreciation of the marine environment.

Dining in Carmel Valley village

Carmel Valley, a picturesque wine country region in Monterey County, offers a range of dining options that showcase the local wine and culinary scene. Here are some dining recommendations in Carmel Valley:

Bernardus Lodge & Spa - Lucia Restaurant: Located at the luxurious Bernardus Lodge, Lucia Restaurant offers farm-to-table cuisine with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. It's known for its California and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Cafe Rustica: This cozy restaurant offers Italian-inspired cuisine, with a menu that includes wood-fired pizzas, homemade pasta, and a variety of antipasti. The ambiance is warm and welcoming.

Lokal: A modern eatery that combines the flavors of California and the Mediterranean, Lokal is known for its wood-fired dishes, seafood, and creative small plates. The restaurant also has a beautiful outdoor patio.

Wickets Bistro: Located at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club, Wickets Bistro offers a menu with a mix of classic and contemporary dishes, emphasizing fresh, seasonal ingredients.

pebble beach, 18th hole, golf

The Bench at Pebble Beach: While not in Carmel Valley, this restaurant, located at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, is known for its stunning views of the golf course and coastline. The menu includes a variety of dishes, including seafood, steaks, and California cuisine.

Holman Ranch Tavern: Located at Holman Ranch, this charming restaurant serves farm-to-table dishes in a rustic and inviting setting. The menu features dishes made with ingredients from their estate gardens.

Valley Kitchen: Found at 181381, Valley Kitchen offers a casual yet upscale dining experience. The menu focuses on locally sourced ingredients and inventive dishes.

Roux: This French-inspired restaurant is known for its elegant and classic cuisine, including dishes like duck confit, coq au vin, and escargot.

Cafe Del Soul: A great spot for health-conscious diners, Cafe Del Soul offers a menu of organic, fresh, and locally sourced ingredients. You'll find a variety of salads, sandwiches, and smoothies.

These are just a few of the dining options you can explore in Carmel Valley. Given the region's association with wine and agriculture, you can expect to find a strong focus on local, fresh ingredients and wine pairings at many of these establishments. It's advisable to make reservations in advance, especially at popular restaurants, to secure your dining experience.

route, 1, bridge

Fine Dining in Big Sur

Big Sur is known for its natural beauty, including its rugged coastline and redwood forests, but it doesn't have many traditional fine dining options due to its remote and pristine setting. However, there are a few notable upscale dining experiences in and around Big Sur that offer high-quality cuisine and ambiance. Here are some fine dining options in the Big Sur area:

Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn: Located in the Post Ranch Inn, Sierra Mar offers a breathtaking cliffside setting with panoramic ocean views. The restaurant focuses on local, seasonal ingredients and offers a prix fixe menu. It's an exquisite dining experience with an emphasis on California cuisine.

Nepenthe: While not a traditional fine dining restaurant, Nepenthe is an iconic establishment known for its stunning views of the coast. The menu includes a variety of dishes, including seafood, salads, and sandwiches. The outdoor terrace offers one of the best views in Big Sur.

coast, California, nature

Ventana Big Sur: Ventana offers an upscale dining experience in a rustic-chic setting. The restaurant features locally sourced ingredients and offers a varied menu with options like steak, seafood, and vegetarian dishes.

Big Sur River Inn Restaurant: This historic restaurant offers a casual yet upscale dining experience. It's known for its riverside setting, comfortable atmosphere, and a menu that includes classic American dishes, seafood, and more.

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn: Deetjen's offers a charming and romantic atmosphere in a historic setting. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes, with an emphasis on fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

While Big Sur's dining scene is not known for Michelin-starred establishments or formal fine dining, the region offers unique and memorable culinary experiences that complement its natural beauty. Keep in mind that reservations may be necessary for many of these restaurants, especially during peak tourist seasons.