Salinas Valley Wine Tour

Known as the "Salad Bowl of the World," the Salinas Valley produces a number of valuable crops whose bounty is found on menus, dinner plates and in wine glasses across the globe. A trip through the Salinas Valley wine corridor provides a glimpse -and a memorable taste -of the quality varietals in production throughout this verdant region.

Stop in at Manzoni Cellars in Soledad. From Salinas, take Highway 101 south to the Chualar exit towards River Road. This friendly Monterey County winery is known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Port wines.

Make Paraiso Vineyards the next stop on your tour. Travel south on Highway 101 to exit 301/Arroyo Seco Road. Continue a half mile on Paraiso Road/Paraiso Springs Road. Paraiso will be on your right. Using time-honored techniques, Paraiso wine is crafted hands-on, barrel-by-barrel. The limited release wines of Paraiso are among the most awarded in California and are eagerly sought after by collectors across the country. The tasting room is perched high on the Santa Lucia Bench above the Salinas River Valley. From this beautiful overlook, vineyards trail off into the distance while solitary hawks slowly circle on valley breezes.

Less than a mile away is Hahn Estates/Smith & Hook Winery. Head south on Paraiso Road/Paraiso Springs Road toward Paraiso Springs Road and turn right on Foothill Road. Hahn Estates/Smith & Hook will be on your left. This premium wine tasting room offers fine wines and unforgettable hospitality. Located in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands, the tasting room offers commanding views of the Salinas Valley and surrounding mountains from high above the valley floor. Surrounded by ever changing colors of the season, the acres of vineyards provide a beautiful backdrop for tasting and the large deck is perfect for enjoying a picnic lunch.

Continue your wine trek through the Salinas Valley to Scheid Vineyards. To get there, travel south on Highway 101 for approximately 11.5 miles and take the Hobson Road exit. Turn right at Hobson Road; Scheid will be on your left. The Scheid Vineyards tasting room is housed in an inviting, converted 100-year-old barn. Tour the demonstration vineyard -each vine row exhibits a different trellising or viticultural technique that can be found in Scheid's vineyards and other winegrowing regions. In the early fall, visitors can also examine the varieties of fresh grapes while tasting Scheid Vineyard's estate wines. Operating approximately 5,300 acres of premium wine grape vineyards, Scheid has the capacity to process approximately 30,000 tons of grapes at each harvest.

This tour only covers a handful of Salinas Valley wineries. For a more extensive experience, explore the entire Monterey Wine Trail, an esteemed group of 13 wineries (including several on this tour). Along the Salinas Valley's picturesque River Road.

For a customized tour of the Salinas Valley wine corridor, guests may opt to travel with Ag Venture Tours, a local company specializing in agriculture education, wine tasting and sightseeing tours of the Monterey Bay region of California. Each tour, or "ag venture," is carefully designed to be fun and educational. Tours can include visits to wineries, vineyards and vegetable farms where guests and owner/tour coordinator Evan Oakes will discuss wine making, grape growing and the agricultural practices of the region.

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