Paper, Planes & Pinot

In Other Words… Stationery, Travel, and All Else that Matters

Travel Thursday – Monterey

Last year the beau and I took a once in a lifetime trip up the coast of California. We went to San Diego, Los Angeles, Napa and San Francisco. We did this in style, renting a convertible for the drive up Pacific Coast Highway. It was amazing!

After planning the itinerary for our epic California vacation we realized that we would not be able to spend time in the Monterey area. Not intentionally. We just did not have the vacation time to squeeze in a multi-day stop at the Central Coast.

What we were able to do was stop for a quick lunch in Monterey. Boy was that a mistake. That made us regret, even more, that we weren’t spending more time in the area.

So THIS year I decided, quite quickly, what I wanted for my birthday: a weekend trip to enjoy the wines of Monterey. So here it is – a few picks for those of you wanting to plan a wine trip to Monterey!

TESTAROSSA
This was our 1st stop of the trip. Technically, this winery is not in Monterey. To save some major bucks on our trip we decided to fly into Oakland, which is about 2 hours north of Monterey. Testarossa was the perfect stop on our drive to Monterey, about half way down.

As you may know, I am not a fan of Chardonnay. “Buttery” is not how I want my wine described. Popcorn, of course, but wine, no. During this tasting I could not wait to get to the pinots, but of course the Chardonnays came first.  Surprisingly the chardonnay was my favorite!  It was refreshing and not at all buttery or oaky.  The chard was so good that the beau and I bought a bottle to enjoy on the patio.

The inside of the tasting room was beautiful. A lot of the décor was made out of wine barrels. The patio area outside was picturesque as well!

Testarosa fountain

TestarosaWine

CALERA
This vineyard was a bit of a drive away from the others that we planned on visiting, but we made the trip anyway.  With the pinot review Calera had, we could not resist. The drive was actually quite beautiful – though the rolling hills of California. There were a handful of other vineyards that we passed on the way there. So if you are thinking about visiting this vineyard, you could probably make a day of it and visit the other vineyards that are close to it.

The tasting room was minimal, but the staff was more than knowledgeable. We were the first guests there on Saturday. It was nice getting there early and having the hosts open a ‘special bottle’ for their Virginia guests.

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The tasting was amazing. Once again I enjoyed the chardonnays, but the pinots did steal the show. We ended up getting one bottle of the pinot to enjoy back at our hotel.

The most fun aspect of this stop was that the host took us on a nice tour of the barrel cave. I did get a little nervous about the CO2 and the warnings from our host to let her know if we got light headed, but I had never been in a wine cave before so I had to go!

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CARMEL TASTING ROOMS

I am going to group the Carmel tasting rooms together here. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that due to my state of mind my recollections of these tasting rooms all blend together.

This area of Carmel is beautiful. There are little quaint restaurants and tons of tasting rooms. My recommendation is to find a good parking spot and walk to the tasting rooms. There are so many that are close together that you can basically leave your car behind and enjoy a whole day gallivanting around the area!

One thing that I did notice about the area is that is seemed like a good mix of tourists and locals.   Keep your ears peeled for locals. They most likely will be in the tasting room crowds drinking wine and/or picking up their monthly subscription of bottles. Belonging to wine clubs is NOT CHEAP – listen to what the veterans pick. Chances are that their picks are super tasty!

Onto the tasting rooms that we went to:

BERNARDUS
This was the first tasting room we stopped at in Carmel and the place was BANGING when we arrived. All of the tasting bar slots were taken, and the two poor hosts were running around trying to serve everyone. There was also a large dining room area and family room. This made it very easy for patrons to enjoy bottles of wine after doing a tasting.

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The one thing that I LOVED about this place is that they provide chocolate. I believe the chocolate was provided to taste the wines, but I downed those chocolate covered cashews like there was no tomorrow.

TALBOTT
This tasting room is very open, and the area outside very welcoming for patrons. This is perfect if you plan on enjoying your wine outside in the beautiful Carmel Valley.

Inside there are motorcycles and décor everywhere. Out of all of the tasting rooms we went to, this one seemed to have the most members coming in and out. This signaled to me that the wine was great! All in all the hosts here were very friendly and very open to giving us suggestions on where we should stumble to next.

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COWGIRL WINERY

No lie, this was probably the most fun tasting room that we went to.

FIRST – The wine had the best presentation. The beau and I are leisure drinkers, so sometimes we like to relax rather than having a host go through each of our wines with us. At Cowgirl Winery we were left to our own devices. We found our table (slash tree stump) and all of our wines were brought to us!

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SECOND – We got BREAD AND CHEESE… FOR FREE. With this being our 4th tasting of the day I was in dire need for this.

THIRD – THE CHICKENS. No explanation is needed.

CowgirlChix

In all honesty the beau came back saying that he regrets not buying some wine here as they were a great value. Fairly priced and very tasty. I also enjoyed the non-wine products for sale. There was beautiful jewelry and cute housewares!

BOEKENOOGEN
This was our last stop on the tasting tour. We ended here and got a bottle of wine to enjoy on the deck. The owner of this winery actually was serving guests. It seemed sort of like a Cheers scene in the tasting room where everyone was friends.

BoekWine

So there you go – Wine Tasting in Monterey! One thing I did not talk about in this post is where to go for food. Seriously every single place that we went to while on this trip had AMAZING seafood. We went to Passion Fish, Café Rustica, Old Fisherman’s Grotto, and Flaherty’s. I would recommend EACH place!

So visit Monterey! Get in some great food and AMAZING wines!

Cheers!

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