Looking for a place to vacation where you can eat, drink and sleep without ever having to get in your car? Ok it does require some walking, but that is how you earn your food and drink, right?
Welcome to Carmel-by-the-Sea. A relatively small village as towns go that encompasses one square mile on your Google map. It is home to approximately 4,000 residents, 45 hotels, 50 art galleries, 37 restaurants, and 18+ (at last count) wine tasting rooms.
This post will concentrate on our wine tasting rooms which seem to be popping up as quickly as mushrooms in a forest after a good downpour.
A map of these tasting rooms that you may pull up on your electronic device is available here and at the end of this post.
Carmel Wine Walk Passport
So how does one visit all the existing tasting rooms? There are two ways to go about sampling the wares of our wine rooms. If you are in town for just a short time, pick any one of the following tasting rooms and enjoy. If you are a local or come into town often, the best deal is to purchase a Carmel Wine Walk Passport from the Visitor’s Center on San Carlos between 5th and 6th. The current cost of the Passport is $65 which entitles the buyer to one $10 flight of wine at nine of the twelve wine rooms listed on the passport. A flight of wine being three, four or even six pours of about two ounces depending on the wine room.
Now I love wine but thankfully the Passport does not have to be used all in one day. It can be used over a weekend, a month, or even several months.
Another good reason to purchase the Passport is that a bottle of wine purchased at participating wine rooms may be taken to selected restaurants and the corkage fee is waved! There are rules for this, so please make sure you inquire at the wine room of your choice how to enjoy their bottle of wine at your dinner.
Currently corkage fees for one bottle of wine per visit per party will be waved at Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria, Andre’s Bouchee, Basil’s Carmel, Big Sur Lodge, Big Sur River Inn, Cantinetta Luca, Carmel Belle, Le St. Tropez, Little Napoli, Rio Grille, Vesuvio, and Village Corner. The wine must be purchased while using the Wine Passport at Blair Estate, Caraccioli Cellars, Dawn’s Dream, De Tierra Vineyards, Figge Cellars, Galante Vineyards, Manzoni Cellars, Shale Canyon, Scheid VIneyards, Silvestri Vineyards, Vino Napoli and Wrath
The following is a self guided walking tour of our current wine tasting rooms. It is meant to be used along with this street map. Those on the Carmel Wine Walk Passport have a (P) next to their name. On the map tasting rooms with a red marker are on the Carmel Wine Walk Passport. Blue marker denote tasting rooms not on the Carmel Wine Walk Passport.
Please note that flight prices and hours of operation are subject to change as are the restaurants waving corkage fees.
So in no particular order enjoy the Carmel-by-the-Sea wine tasting venues. Salute!
Mission between 5th and 6th
Open Tuesday – Thursday 2pm-7pm
Friday – Sunday 12pm – 8pm
In the mid 1990’s Tom and Carol Russell began looking for the perfect property to build an artisan winery as well as a home. They found this in a 20-acre plot of land in Corral de Tierra on the Monterey Peninsula midway between the Santa Lucia Highlands and Carmel Valley.
With the climate in Corral de Tierra perfect for growing grapes and the volume of wine that could be produced on their land enough to support a small winery, De Tierra Vineyards was born.
Owner, winemaker and vintner, Tom Russell uses sustainable practices (SIP) to grow four 100% organic varietals on the Russell Estate Vineyard which is also entirely run on solar energy.
The vineyard is SIP Certified. SIP stands for Sustainability in Practice, a unique certification that goes beyond just being “green.” A SIP Certified vineyard, farms in a way that protects both natural and human resources.
Dog friendly De Tierra tasting room is located on the north side of Ocean Avenue on the ground floor of a brick and stucco building. $10 for a flight of four pours and $15 for a flight of six.
Wrath Tasting Room (P)
First Floor Carmel Plaza
Ocean and Junipero
Hours Monday – Saturday 10am to 6pm
Sunday 11am to 5pm
Located on the ground floor of the Carmel Plaza (Ocean and Junipero) just across from the Fountain and Woof is
Wrath Tasting Room. Wrath Co-owner, Michael Thomas came to wine-making by way of the world of academia. With a PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology, Michael spent fifteen years excavating sights and living in Italy. It was during that time he also developed his passion for wine.
In 2007, the Thomas family purchased San Saba Vineyards, in the Santa Lucia Highlands and “set out to dramatically change the estate’s wine and viticulture.” They worked with Steve McIntyre to become SIP Certified, developing a sustainable program specific to their vineyards unique conditions.
The Thomas family believes that sustainable growing will enable them to produce wines that are more authentic and specific to the terroir ( French for land) of their vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Early indications suggest they are right, as Wrath’s first two vintages have received over twenty 90-point scores.
Now in their seventh year of production Wrath produces site specific Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc from their sustainable estate vineyard and other properties in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
The tasting room is also available for private events of up to 100 people or a custom tasting experience can be designed for couples or small groups.
Purchase a bottle of Wrath wine then go next door to The Cheese Shop for food fixings before taking a self-guided walking tour down Ocean Avenue to Carmel Beach to watch the waves while enjoying your picnic.
Scheid Tasting Room (P)
San Carlos and 7th
Open Daily from 12pm to 6pm
831/ 656 – 9463
It is said, a great wine begins in the vineyard. Al Scheid knew this to be true, which is why in 1971 he purchased acreage in Monterey County based on the advice of Professor A. J. Winkler of the University of California at Davis. Winkler, a professor of Viticulture and Enology (the cultivation of grapes and science of wine making) determined Monterey County comparable to Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Scheid also believed that in order to grow the highest quality wine grapes one had to adhere to the three E’s of sustainability; environmentally sound practices, social Equity, and Economic viability. Scheid, another SIP Certified vineyard, now has ten estate vineyards (over 5,000 acres) located along a 70-mile spread of the Salinas Valley where they grow their 38 different varietals.
Why the screwtops? After doing their homework, Scheid reached two important conclusions: First screw cap closures were never negative in terms of wine quality and were often positive and second, no matter what efforts were undertaken, TCA (2,4,6-trichloranisole) would probably infect a certain percentage of cork closure wines forever.
The decision to use screwcaps wasn’t that they are cheaper to buy, or easier to produce, or even prettier. The “Knights of the Schied Table” took an oath of honor in 2009 and pledged to go 100% screwcap, why? Because the Knights determined that they were “just better. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what matters most?”
Scheid tasting room is located one block south of Ocean Avenue at the entrance to Bell Tower Court at San Carlos and 7th.
Currently, they offer three different wine tasting flights: the Estate Flight $10 per person, waved with purchase of 2 bottles, Reserve Pinot Noir Flight $20 per person, waved with a purchase of 4 bottles, Reserve Mixed Flight $20 per person, waved with purchase of 4 bottles.
Voted Best Tasting Room by the Carmel Pine Cone in 2013, Scheid tasting room in Carmel can also be reserved for different venues. They can accommodate a maximum of 40 guests for a reception style gathering, 30 guests for a sit-down dinner, or 26 guests in a classroom setting.
Manzoni Cellars (P)
San Carlos between Ocean and 7th
Open Sunday – Friday 11am to 6pm
Saturday 11am to 7pm
The Manzoni family has lived and farmed in the Santa Lucia Highlands since the 1930’s. Initially in the dairy business which evolved to crop farming and finally into wine making when the family converted six acres of land into vine rootstock in the 1990’s.
Manzoni Vineyards‘ small estate vineyard, produces just 2000 cases of wine a year. With their wines continually scoring 90+ points it is clear that they strive for quality not quantity.
Manzoni Cellars Pinot Noir won a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and their Syrah double gold at the San Diego International Wine Competition.
Their boutique wine room complete with massive antique bar is located in The Paseo Courtyard on San Carlos between Ocean and 7th, across from Basil Carmel.
Manzoni Vineyards specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Syrah. Stop by their wine room and your host will most likely be managing partner Mark Manzoni himself (shown below pouring his vintage at the Coachman’s Inn during the Carmel Heritage Society’s Carmel Inns of Distinction 2013). Your dog is also welcome to join you at the Manzoni wine bar.
Blair Estate and Shale Canyon Wines (P)
The Paseo Courtyard
San Carlos between Ocean and 7th
Hours Daily 11am to 7pm
Blair Estate and Shale Canyon share a wine room at the back of The Paseo Courtyard on San Carlos behind Manzoni and across from Basil.
In 2007 Jeffrey Blair planted the first Pinot Noir grapes on his beloved grandmother Delfina’s property in the Arroyo Seco Appellations.
Their debut release produced 258 cases of Blair Estate 2010 Pinot Noir Delfina’s Vineyard. In the glass this inaugural Pinot Noir displays a hint of rose petal, anise, and spice combined with Bing cherry and strawberry.
With the success of such a fine Pinot from the Arroyo Seco Appellations, Blair Estate decided to expand their varietals. In 2012 they purchased fruit from two neighboring vineyards, Meador Estate and Roger Rose.
In 2013 they released their Blair Estate 2012 Pinot Gris Meador Vineyard which received 90 Points and “Editors’ Choice” from Wine Enthusiast Magazine and
Blair Estate 2012 Chardonnay Roger Rose Vineyard which received 90 Points and a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Sixth-generation Salinas Valley brothers, Jake, Keith and Tim Prader, planted Shale Canyon vineyard with a number of red varietals in 2008. The vineyard is on such isolated property in the upper portion of the Arroyo Seco Canyon, that production is run totally off the grid with a propane stove and well pump powered by a photovoltaic cell system (solar).
Shale Canyon specializes in small lots of hand crafted varietals of Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Mourvedre, and Zinfandel.
Shale Canyon supplements their wine production with grapes purchased from a number of areas. Chardonnay, syrah and merlot come from vineyards in the Arroyo Seco, zinfandel from Dry Creek in Healdsburg and cabernet from San Benito County.
NW Corner 7th and San Carlos
Open daily 1pm to 6pm
Saturday 12pm to 6pm(831) 659-2649
You will find Dawn’s Dream behind Thinker Toys in the Plaza San Carlos NW Corner of 7th and San Carlos.
White’s poured are a Chardonnay and Savignon Blanc. Also try the “Trilogy of Sisters,” three Pinot’s named after Dawn’s daughters: Pinot Alyssa which has hints of persimmons and vanilla, Pinot Nicole, with hints of brown sugar and gooseberries, and Pinot Rachael with hints of maple, cedar and tea roses.
A $10 flight of wine consists of seven 2 ounce pours. Even your pets are welcome, so come on by.
Silvestri Vineyards Tasting Room (P)
7th Avenue between Dolores and San Carlos
Open Daily 12pm to 7pm
In 1989, after a successful career as a music composer, writing over 100 scores for film, Alan Silvestri moved his family of five from Los Angeles to the Carmel Valley.
In the spring of 2000 Alan and his wife Sandra began a new adventure. They planted three varieties of grapes on their ten plus acres in Carmel Valley. Their first harvest of 100% estate grown grapes of the Silvestri Vineyards was in the Fall of 2003.
Silvestri Vineyards Wine Room, decorated with movie posters for which Alan wrote the score, is located on 7 Avenue between Dolores and San Carlos.
As passionate about his wine as he is about his music Alan says, “There’s something about the elemental side of wine making that appeals to me. Both music making and wine making involve the blending of art and science. Just as each note brings its own voice to the melody, each vine brings its own unique personality to the wine.”
Visit Silvestri Tasting Room and enjoy some of their current vintages which include: a 2012 Pinot Gris with hints of pear, kiwi and lemon lime, 2012 Pinot Blanc with hints of honeysuckle and cantaloupe, 2010 Chardonnay “Bella Sandra” with hints of honey, green apple and vanilla, and 2009 Pinot Noir “Rising Tide” with hints of blackberry and plum.
Vino Napoli (P)
NE Corner of Dolores and 7th
Daily 3pm to 10pm
Vino Napoli is the largest tasting room in town is over 3,000 square feet with two flat screen TV’s , and a half dozen café style tables set on top of wine barrels warmed by a fireplace.
Vino Napoli is not only a tasting room, but it is also a wine bar. Meaning besides enjoying a tasting flight, you may purchase a regular 6 ounce pour glass of wine and stay awhile.
There is also a selection
of light appetizers offered.
The wines featured at Vino Napoli are selected from partners and close friends of the Pèpe family.
In 2001 the Pèpe family offered their first vintage and today they are proud to offer a selection of four different wines from current vintages. Try Pèpe Vesuvio a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah or Pèpe 100% Chardonnay. Must be over 21 to enter.
Figge Cellars (P)
Inside Winfield Gallery
Dolores between Ocean Ave. and 7th Avenue
Hours Thurs – Monday 12pm – 6pm
Peter Figge opened Figge Cellars in 2004. He is the grape grower, the chief winemaker, and bottler. Peter handpicks his grapes from local vineyards, Pelio in Carmel Valley, Parasio and La Reina in Santa Lucia Highlands, and Sycamore Flat in Arroyo Seco.
With subtle flavors, each bottle of Figge wine gives off a distinctive sense of the place where the grapes were grown.
Figge handcrafts two Chardonnays, two Pinot Noirs, and one Syrah. Each season produces about 1,800 cases.
In a celebration of art and wine, Figge is located inside Winfield Art Gallery so that you can enjoy your wine while strolling through the gallery. Taste a flight of three 2 ounce pours for $9 or a flight of 5 for $12.
Caraccioli Cellars (P)
Dolores between Ocean Avenue and 7th
Open Monday – Thursday 2pm – 7pm
Friday and Saturday 11am – 10pm
Sunday 11am – 7pm
Salinas Valley native, Gary Caraccioli launched Caraccioli Cellars in 2006 after convincing his uncle and brother to go into the wine making business with the goal of making an exclusive and original wine to the Santa Lucia Highlands. This turned out to be a sparkling wine.
The Caraccioli family teamed up with Joe Rawitzer and Michel Salgues. Joe is said to have began wine making at the age of four, but did receive a degree in biochemistry and studied wine making and enology at UC Davis Extension before pursing wine making as his career. Michel Salgues, who is the head winemaker at Caraccioli was born in France and reputedly the finest sparkling wine maker in California.
The Caraccioli family is serious about their sparkling wine, which undergoes a labor-intensive secondary fermentation, called méthod champenoise to create all the bubbles in their Brut Cuvée. They also not only abide by the French law on Champagne but exceed it. French law requires Champagne Houses in France use only the first 150 gallons of juice extracted from each ton of grapes. Caraccioli Cellars uses only the first 120 gallons providing the best ‘heart’ juice from each grape.
The Caraccioli Cellars tasting room is located on the north side of Dolores between Ocean and Seventh. The tasting room features a long Perota bar slab which offers plenty of space to sample a flight of wine. Besides their sparkling wine, Caraccioli also offers a Pinor Noir and Chardonnay made from grapes from their Santa Lucia Highlands vineyard.
A Caraccioli Full Flight, taste of any of their six wines is $15. Pair this with a small plate of Caraccioli’s cheese and charcuterie , Mediterranean olives or home made Bruschetta for $4 to $10. Or after dinner pair the 91 Point Caraccioli Cellars 2006 Brut Rosé Santa Lucia Highlands and Moonstruck Chocolate Truffles.
Galante Vineyards (P)Dolores Avenue between Ocean and 7th
Sunday – Friday 1pm to 6pm
Saturday 12pm to 6pm 831/624-3800
Galante Vineyards has the pleasure of being the first tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea, having opened in 2004. Galante tasting room is located in one of Carmel’s quaint courtyards.
It can be reached by one of our secret passageways via Der Ling Lane located under the arch doorway on the south side of Ocean Avenue between Dolores and Lincoln. How Der Ling Lane received this name is another story and part of my self-guided walk and history of Ocean Avenue.
Or when strolling down the west side of Dolores between Ocean and 7th you might come across Cowboy Galante he will point you in the right direction of the tasting room behind Piccadilly Park.
The Galante Family history goes way back, back to 1902 when James Frank Devendorf and Frank Powers filed a new subdivision map that would eventually become the core of the village of Carmel. Jack Galante, the owner of Galante Vineyards is the great grandson of the Father of Carmel, Frank Devendorf.
In 1969, Jack’s parents purchased a 700 acre cattle ranch in Carmel Valley. While ranching they began growing grapes on their property.
In 1994, Jack built a winery to produce their 100% estate wines. Today Galante Vineyards is known for their premier Cabernet Sauvignon. Their tasting room has a rustic western theme. Check out the overstuffed cowboy boot chair or rocking chair built out of wine barrels.
Besides Cab, Galante is known for its Malbec, Petite Sirah, Merlot and Pinot’s, stop in and enjoy a flight.
Now if these wine tasting rooms are not enough choices for you, we have more. The following tasting rooms are not on the Carmel Wine Walk Passport but they also deserve mention. They are denoted on the Wine Tasting Map with a blue marker.
Surf N’ Sand
NW Corner of 6th and Torres
Surf N’ Sand located next to its “sister” store Bruno’s Market and Deli, is known for its extensive selection of wine from Monterey County as well as for its impressive list of over 100 microbrew and handcrafted beers.
Surf N’ Sand hosts wine tastings by appointment for individuals and small groups. Call 831/624-1805 to set up a private tasting.
Wyland Gallery and Wine
Bringing Art and Wine Together
Ocean Avenue between
Mission and San Carlos
Wyland Galleries has had a Carmel presence since 1978. Wyland is a multi-faceted artist specializing in marine life paintings, sculpture and photography. Called a “Marine Michelangelo” by USA Today, Wyland’s brilliantly colorful paintings of marine life are sought by collectors from around the world.
In 2005 Wyland partnered with winemaker Marlowe Joseph Huber to create the Wyland Cellars label. Huber used grapes sourced from Napa and Sonoma Valley to create this brand, and bottles were embellished with Wyland’s marine life artwork.
A portion of all the Wyland Cellars wine products go directly to the Wyland Foundation supporting clean waters, clean rivers, the environment and the protection of sea life.
Stop in and sample one of the Wyland Cellars eight premium wines. A $12.50 flight consists of five 2 ounce pours.
Tasting Room inside Andre’s Bouchée Bistro
Mission between Ocean and Seventh Avenue
Open from 4:30pm
Tudor Wines is a family-owned vineyard that had its inaugural release from their Santa Lucia Highlands vineyard in 2000. Their wines which have received 90+ from Wine Spectator Magazine are available for tasting at the tasting room inside Andre’sBouchée Bistro on Mission between Ocean and Seventh.
Court of the Fountains
Mission Street between Ocean and Seventh
Open 12pm to 6pm
In the 1930’s William Hawley Bowlus began launching his one of a kind “Albatross” sailplanes off the ridges of Carmel Valley. Today Williams’ grandson, Garrett Bowlus, grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes on the same steep Carmel Valley ridges. Albatross Ridge Wines are available for tasting in their tasting room located in the Court of the Fountains on Mission. Open Thursday through Sunday from 12pm to 6pm.
Otter Cove Wines
San Carlos between Seventh and Eighth
Inside Tree House Restaurant
Tasting Room open from 3:00pm
Owner and winemaker Richard Oh of Otter Cove Wines pours Riesling, Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and dry Gewϋrztraminer varietals from vineyards in either the Santa Lucia Highlands or Monterey at the Tree House Cafe Wine Room from 3PM daily.
RF Wines/Puma Road
Dolores between Ocean and Seventh
In the Tuck Box Patio
Open 2:30pm to 7pm
Ray Franscioni is a third generation Monterey County farmer. He produces three releases under the RF Wines label, Puma Road, Pedregal, and Lilia. Puma Road wines are available for tasting at their tasting room in the Tuck Box Kiosk built by “fairy tale style” builder Hugh Comstock in 1931.
Dolores between Ocean and Seventh
Trió Carmel is a place where local artisan wines, premium olive oils and balsamic vinegar’s come together with abstract art. It is truly a unique experience.
Sample fresh olive oils,
balsamic and flavored vinegar.
Then have your picks packaged
into bottles to take home.
At the same time taste some exceptional Monterey County wines from Pelerin, Le P’tit Paysan, La Marea, Fieldfare, & Mesa Del Sol while enjoying the contemporary art of local artists.
Southern Latitudes Wine Cellars
Lincoln between Ocean Avenue and Sixth Avenue
Open Wednesday through Sunday 11am to 6pm
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Southern Latitudes specializes exclusively in the wines of Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and Chile. They offer a flight of five or six 2 ounce pours for $11 to $15. Stop by and meet the owners beagles, Taz and Flinders!
If the 18 tasting rooms mentioned above are not enough, The Cheese Shop in Carmel Plaza and Nielson Brothers Market on the NE corner of San Carlos and Seventh also have wine tasting, and Paraiso Vineyards has applied for their licence to open a wine room behind the Cottage of Sweets in the Court of the Golden Bough.
So come and stay in one of our quaint hotels, eat in one of our unique restaurants and spend a weekend wine tasting without ever having to get in your car until you are ready to go home. Salute!
Pictures and video – L. A. Momboisse http://www.carmelbytheseaca.blogspot.com