Tasting Carmel Valley Wineries in 2 Days

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From its storied aquarium and harbor seal population to the jaw dropping Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County is a coastal treasure trove, but mere miles inland you’ll find perhaps the greatest gem of them all: sleepy Carmel Valley Village and its plethora of tightly-knit wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms in a region renowned for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Whether you sip with your pinky out or in, you’ll find no shortage of stops along the Valley Road to delight your senses.

Day 1

Art and Crafts

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Image Source: Yelp
Parsonage Village Vineyard
19 East Carmel Valley Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-7322
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 10 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: From CA-68 W, turn left onto Laureles Grade. After 6 miles, turn left onto W Carmel Valley Rd.

Just a half mile from the estate vineyard and winery of the same name you’ll find the Parsonage Tasting Room and, in an unusual turn, Quilt Art Gallery. Operated by Bill and Mary Ellen Parsons, the room exhibits the pair’s passion for grapes and textile arts with charming aplomb. Syrah is the order of the day. Insider tip: ask for the spiced pecans.

The Rancher’s Hand

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Image Source: Yelp
Boekenoogen
24 W Carmel Valley Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-4215
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 24 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: From Parsonage Village Vineyard, drive northwest toward E Carmel Valley Rd for 1 mile. Turn right onto E Carmel Valley Rd, Boekenoogen will be on the left.

The Boekenoogen family does their growing and bottling in the nearby Santa Lucia Highlands, but this tasting room lacks nothing in knowledgeable and friendly service with the owners on site (they run a cattle ranch in the valley, as well). The patio is a delight, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Insider tip: look past the high-scoring Pinot and Chard and take the standout Syrah for a spin.

The Eurotrip

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Image Source: Yelp
Joullian Vineyards
2 Village Dr.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-8100
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 16 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: Turn left out of Boekenoogen and left onto Village Dr.

Though the winery itself is only open to the public thrice annually, their small tasting room, built fifteen years ago with a facade in the style of a Burgundian church, apropos of the region’s grapes, is open daily to excite the palate. Cab and Chardonnay are the prime offerings. Insider tip: while dessert wines aren’t their focus, they do produce a few and will present them upon request. It’s a worthy request.

The Primitive

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Image Source: Yelp
Heller Estate
69 W Carmel Valley Rd
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-6221
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 17 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: Exit right from Joullian Vineyards, then turn left onto W Carmel Valley Rd.

The Heller tasting room in CVV’s wine row showcases the fruits of the all organic estate’s Cachagua vineyard, along with a healthy dose of outdoor sculpture in its relaxing garden. With nearly a decade in organic production and a position at the vanguard of the region’s viticulture, the term organic is not just a label here. Insider tip: Though you’ll find plenty of varietals on parade, the Petit Verdot wins honors.

The Motor Way

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Image Source: Yelp
Talbott Vineyards
25 Pilot Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-3500
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 18 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: From Heller Estate, southeast on W Carmel Valley Rd. Turn left onto Pilot Rd.

For a decidedly off the road well traveled approach to the tasting room, you can’t beat Talbott’s showcase of vintage motorbikes. On site you’ll find Chard and Pinot produced at one of their two estate vineyards, yours for the sipping as you gawk the titular Talbott’s shrine to two-wheeled adventure. Insider tip: if you’re up for a little adventure of your own, an eighteen mile drive will land you at the Talbott’s Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, where you’ll find another tasting room and an altogether different experience.

Day 2

Vinegar and Oil

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Image Source: Yelp
Holman Ranch
19 E Carmel Valley Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-2640
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 34 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: From CA-68 W, turn left onto Laureles Grade. After 6 miles, turn left onto W Carmel Valley Rd. Holman Ranch will be on the right.

With five varieties on hand for tasting, you’re sure to find a bottle that suits, but perhaps the most interesting offing in Holman’s comfortable and friendly tasting room is the ranch’s home grown and pressed olive oil. The most unique flight you’re likely to find in Carmel Valley. Insider tip: sample the Sweet Love Sauvignon Blanc for something truly distinct.

The Maverick

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Image Source: Joyce Vineyards & Yelp
Joyce Vineyards
19 E Carmel Valley Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-2885
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 2 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: Neighboring Holman Ranch, simply walk outside and down the block to enter Joyce Vineyards.

Joyce offers a tasting room without a hint of pretentiousnessólaid back, almost a brewery by the feel. Best of all, in addition to solid offerings of each of the region’s most well loved varietals, the RosÈ is stunning. Insider tip: Seriously, Rose of Grenache. Don’t sleep on this.

The Garten

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Image Source: Bernardus Winery & Yelp
Bernardus Winery
5 W Carmel Valley Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-1900
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 34 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: Exit left from Joyce Vineyards onto W Carmel Valley Rd. Bernardus Winery will be on the right.

Not to be confused with the resort of the same name (wonderful in its own right), the Bernardus tasting room can be boiled down to its core elements. Character rich, high end wines and a comfortable, biergarten-esque patio on which to enjoy them. Insider tip: ask for the Sierra Mar chardonnay by name.

The Garden Party

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Image Source: Yelp
Georis Winery
4 Pilot Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-1050
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 15 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: Leave Bernardus Winery, driving northwest on W Carmel Valley Rd. Turn right onto Pilot Rd.

The shabby-chic canopied garden at Georis is the star of the show. Dog friendly and brimming with European charm, it’s a good thing the wine holds up or this would all be wasted. Served by the flight, the tasting experience is more hands off here, which can be a good thing. Insider tip: Settle in for the weekend happy hour if you’d like to cool your heels for a bit.

The Farmhouse

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Image Source: Yelp
Cowgirl Winery
25 Pilot Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 298-7030
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 10 reviews
Reservation: Not required
Directions: From Georgis Winery, continue down Pilot Rd. Cowgirl Winery will be on the right.

For the urbanite with no interest in faux-European style, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a less middle of the road winery. Hip and inviting, without pushing the lines of taste, Cowgirl is the perfect stop to sample Pinot and play a round or two of bocce with friends. Insider tip: Mind your cheese plate. The chickens might get ideas.

Monterey’s microclimate makes for bold and memorable wines, so it comes as no surprise that it’s wineries should reflect the equally bold tastes of their founders. Saddle up, bold explorer. A tasting adventure awaits.