Three Days in Monterey Wine Country

In the 18th century, Spanish missionaries planted the first grapevines in Monterey County and today the region is one of the largest premium grape producers in California. Currently, more than 43,000 acres of vineyards produce over 53 different varietals of some truly incredible wine.

With over 55 tasting rooms set in some of the most picturesque California backdrops, it is no wonder Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Monterey as one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations” in the world. In order to fully enjoy the bounty of the Monterey County’s Wine Country, we have outlined the perfect itinerary in three distinct wine tasting regions: Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley and the Salinas Valley - each with their own specialties and charm. Cheers!

Day 1: Carmel-by-the-Sea

Sprinkled amongst the picturesque cottages and delicious restaurants in quaint Carmel-by-the-Sea is a network of local wine tasting rooms. In the one-square mile area of downtown there are over 15 tasting rooms - needless to say you will have a packed wine tasting schedule awaiting you! For easy access into a majority of these tasting rooms, pick up a Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea Wine Tasting Passport. This passport allows you to take a self-guided tour of the tasting rooms, complete with a wine flight at any 9 of the 14 participating venues. The Wine Passport is $65 and can be purchased either online or at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

Insider’s Tip: Head down to the soft white sands of Carmel Beach and enjoy a bottle of your recently purchased wine and soak in nature’s spectacular sunset show.

Day 2: Carmel Valley

Escape the coastal fog and head inland for sunshine and the delicious wines of Carmel Valley. Leave the driving to the pros and hop on the Wine Trolley in Monterey. Once you arrive in the Carmel Valley Village, you can slowly work your way through the variety of tasting rooms that are all within a short walking distance of one another. From the luscious wines and beautiful outdoor patio at Cima Collina, the vintage motorcycle collection at Talbott Vineyards, to the wine on tap at Joyce Vineyards, there is a tasting room in the valley to suit everyone's needs.

Insider’s Tip: Leave your car keys in the hotel room and pick-up MST’s Grapevine Express. For just $5 you can travel to Carmel Valley from Monterey without having to worry about a designated driver.

Day 3: Salinas Valley

Fully immerse yourself in wine country with a jaunt down River Road in the Salinas Valley. Just down scenic Highway 68, River Road is home to some of the most fertile agricultural land in the world and serves as the perfect landscape for producing some seriously delicious grapes.  Here you will find a plethora of unique wineries and tasting rooms nestled among rolling hills, lettuce fields and vineyards. Head over to Chalone Vineyards at the mouth of Pinnacles National Park to visit the oldest grape vines in Monterey County and take advantage of barrel tasting in their wine cave. For a more adventurous take on wine tasting, visit Hahn Estates for an ATV vineyard tour and experience the expansive views of the valley floor from their vista-top tasting room patio.

Insider’s Tip: For an educational sneak peek into the wine making process, book a voyage with Ag Venture Tours. Guided wine tours include a behind-the-scenes look at several local vineyards, complete with wine tastings, of course!

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