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 65 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 with exquisite outdoor seating areas. 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! Reservations are recommended.

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. The Wine Trolley is currently operating with COVID-19 safety standards in place - this includes thorough cleaning procedures before and after each outing, as well as social distancing and masks requirements. 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 Twisted Roots, the vintage motorcycle collection at Talbott Vineyards, to a flight of unique, vintage wines at Joyce Wine Co., there is a tasting room in the valley to suit everyone's needs.

Insider’s Tip: Call ahead to reserve your spot! Many wineries and tasting rooms are taking reservations at this time due to limited outdoor seating space.

Day 3: Salinas Valley

Fully immerse yourself in wine country with a jaunt down the River Road Wine Trail 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 (the oldest producing vineyard in Monterey County) located at the mouth of Pinnacles National Park. Tour the oldest grape vines in Monterey County and take advantage of barrel tasting. 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, Vino Wine Tours or  Behind the Scenes Wine Tours. These tour operators offer personalized wine tasting experiences, including walking tours, van and bus tours.

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