When a new tasting room opens in Monterey County, it’s as exciting to me as the first day of school was back when I was a little kid. What will the tasting room look like? Will the tasting room associate be friendly? And – most importantly – how good is the wine? On a recent Saturday, I stopped in at Caraccioli Cellars in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which just opened on January 21. Caraccioli Cellars has managed to nail it right out of the gate with their first vintage, serving up distinctive Burgundian-Chablis-style wines in an atmosphere that’s unique among Carmel tasting rooms. Caraccioli Cellars Scott Caraccioli, who was pouring on the day I tasted, said that he went to great lengths to create the distinctive ambiance of the Si Tyler-designed tasting room. Caraccioli worked with the town government in order to ensure that it would be exactly as he envisioned it. Every detail is perfect, right down to the catchy logo on every wine glass. Caraccioli Cellars The room, designed to look like a wine cellar, balances warm modernist elements such as the enormous single-piece wooden slab used as the tasting bar with rococo touches such as the cushy armchairs in the front window. It feels like a nightclub that’s almost, but not quite, too cool for me to hang out in. Scott is young, excited and just as cool as his tasting room. He knows a lot about wine and is enthusiastic about sharing his wisdom and Caraccioli’s story. The Caraccioli family has successfully grown produce outside Gonzales for many years. In 2006, they expanded into viticulture. Their delectable wines prove that this was a brilliant move. Caraccioli Cellars The tasting led off with two sparkling wines, a brut cuvee and a brut rosé. Caraccioli Cellars may be the only tasting room in Monterey County that offers up two bubblies on its menu. Starting with two separate sparklers makes the entire experience feel like a glamorous special occasion. The wines themselves are worthy of black tie. IMG_0450 Most wineries in Monterey County have a repertoire that’s heavy on the reds. Caraccioli has bucked the trend with a tasting menu that offers almost all white wines. The three still wines on the tasting menu include two high-minerality chardonnays and an exquisite pinot noir, all of which pair well with Caraccioli’s carefully edited menu of small plates. Any of these wines would make a great gift to take home to friends — especially the kind of friends who like to share their wines. The temptation to keep the wine for yourself will be nigh-irresistible. Better buy an extra bottle! Caraccioli Cellars Dolores between Ocean and 7th Carmel-by-the-Sea 831-622-7722 If you're looking for more information on wine tasting in Monterey County, don't miss our information on Wine in Monterey County, including exclusive tasting itineraries!