Wineries Have Created A California Culture South Of Napa And Sonoma
It’s getting to the point now where you can’t walk out the door in Monterey County, CA, without someone sticking glass of wine in your hand.
The region is that proud of the wines produced in its many wineries. The locals will talk passionately about the wineries, the restaurant servers will gladly give you several reasons to choose local wines and in my case, even the hotel owner of the Hofsas House in Carmel gave us a couple of glasses before we went out to explore the town.
Heck, the lovely Bavarian-style Hofsas House even had a bottle of wine waiting for us in the room, along with cheese from The Cheese Shop, a great combination if ever there were one for a guest. They will do this for anyone for just $30, by the way.
Monterey County likes to think of itself as a budding Napa or Sanoma, and it’s not far off in its estimation. You actually drive right by several wineries on the 101 before even getting to the towns. Monterey County clams to have 175 wineries, in fact.
After spending four days in the area, I actually got wined-out for the first time in my life. The friend and I emptied one of the bottles at the Hofsas House, we then had a couple glasses with the super-friendly owner Carrie in the lobby in front of a fireplace, and the next day was tipping back a red before noon.
Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right!?
In Carmel and Monterey when it comes to wine, it’s always 5 o’clock, it seems.
The day’s first taste came at Salumeria Luca, an Italian Deli. We were on the Carmel Food Tours, a three-hour stroll through restaurants and food shops led by a cheery gal named Staci who is really just showing people her favorite places in this quaint little town on the gorgeous central California coast. We were there to sample meats but before that happened, the proprietor opened a bottle of red. Priorities, right?
An hour and two stops later, we were in Caraccioli Cellars, sipping on sparkling wine. I noticed, by the way, that while Staci did not partake in any of the food samples on the tour, she didn’t hold out when it came to the wine. That says all you need to know about how all the wineries have affected the culture of the area.
All this was just a warm-up to the wine tasting rooms. Carmel has about 15 places that do tastings, and seven of them are part of a specific Wine Walk ($50 for all). They are all within a couple of blocks of one another, which is a great way to sample several vineyards without having some poor sap serve as your designated driver. Plus, you can be back in the Hofsas House in a few minutes, or keep going straight out to dinner.
Another day, in Monterey, my friend’s wife treated me to a sampling and glass at Taste of Monterey, the most gorgeous wine tasting room in all of California. It’s not just on Cannery Row, it’s above Cannery Row, right on top of the ocean. Big windows offer full views up and down Monterey Bay and the coast.
She then got a bottle to go as part of her monthly membership, a fantastic red from Montoya wineries, and we shared it over one of the best dinners you can have in the area, Fisherman’s Grotto on Fisherman’s Wharf.
So yeah, I got a little bit wined-out, like you do when you drink too much beer after a while. But, of course, I can’t wait to return to the region.