My Angeleno friends were doubtful that we could see the whole Monterey Bay Aquarium and still have enough hours left in the day to linger over wine tasting. Little did they know I had an ace in my back pocket: Scheid Vineyards Wine Lounge.
The elegant Scheid Vineyards Wine Lounge is an oasis of calm amidst the excited crowds on Cannery Row. No matter how busy the tasting room gets, it always has an air of serenity. It provided a perfect counterpoint to a morning spent dodging high-energy children at the Aquarium. If we’d spent a full day at the Aquarium, we still could have squeezed in a tasting; the Wine Lounge is open until 7pm Sunday-Thursday and 8pm on Friday and Saturday.
We found a spot at the center of the action, next to the long marble tasting bar. But Scheid offers a number of other seating scenarios that can fit any mood. The bistro tables in the front of the tasting room are great for intimate chatting with wine as the supporting character, while the leather lounge chairs arranged in front of the stone fireplace give the vibe of drinking in the swank library of a rich friend’s house.
Scott Tidd, who I later found out is the manager, gave us a warm welcome and immediately set us up for a delicious tasting. Scott and his tasting room team know these wines backwards and forwards. More importantly, they have an intuitive sense of how much information each taster wants to ear. In the case of the group next to us, it meant long, encyclopedic digressions into highly technical wine data; for us, Scott interspersed his narratives the wines with witty commentary. I left the tasting room feeling much smarter about wine than I was when I walked in.
Scheid’s wines are as elegant as the tasting room setting. They balance the complexity found in European-style wines with the power of New World wines. The wine list spans the gamut from delicious, summery sweet whites like Gewürztraminer and Muscat Canelli to robust reds and everything in between. All the wines share one defining characteristic: they let the grapes speak for themselves.
This consistency was most evident when we had the good luck to try a Pinot Noir vertical that was not generally on the menu. The vertical featured Scheid’s standard Pinot Noir, the Pinot Noir Reserve, and the Clone 667 Reserve. It was like listening to three different versions of a classical music piece, one that was being played only by a piano, the second by a chamber orchestra and the third by a full symphony. The core flavors remained the same but grew in complexity as we traveled up the vertical.
And my Angeleno friends? Well, they left the Cannery Row tasting room with arms full of wine. Then on their way home they stopped at the other Scheid tasting room, just off Highway 101 in Greenfield, to pick up a few more!
Scheid Vineyards Wine Lounge
751 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940