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Jul 19, 2010 10:23 PM

Wine tasting in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Carmel area

This is my first time to the Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Carmel area for wine tasting. I've driven through the area before on previous visits but did not have the opportunity to any wine tasting then. I'm from Calgary, Canada. I've been to the Bay area multiple times and have done wine tastings in Napa, Sonoma, Livermore Valley and Lodi. I found some great vineyards in Lodi. I was hoping to find some hidden gems in the Monterey, Santa Cruz, Carmel area. Do you have any suggestions for places I should definitely visit and also places I should probably avoid.

I'm planning a day trip to the area later this week and I'm staying in South San Jose. Have you been to the Parsonage Family Winery in the Carmel Valley? I read some great reviews on other sites and it sounds like a hidden gem.

It would be great if you could suggest some of your favourite vineyards in the area. Thanks in advance.

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  1. While it's not a winery, one nice place to experience a bunch of Santa Cruz Mountains appelation wines is Vinocruz in downtown Santa Cruz. The focus strictly on local wines, have daily tasting flights, and a huge selection.

    I'm not an expert in local wines but I think if I were to pick one place to taste, it would be Ridge, rather convenient from San Jose. Tastings seem to only be on weekends.

    1. Carmel Valley village is turning into a decent wine destination.

      You have named the very best of the tasting rooms - Parsonage has some wonderful wines. I am especially fond of their "grandchild" reds. Also be sure to try their second label (SNOSRAP) which I think is a great value.

      Just down the street you will find Bernardus which has some very nice reds as well - Marinus is my favorite of their wines

      A little further down is Talbott who makes the best of the Carmel Valley Chardonneys. Right next store to Talbott is Georgis and right after that is Heller. Neither Heller or Georgis is in the same league as the first three - but they are decent - and literally right next door.

      All of this is walkable - probably a total of 0.5 miles from one end to the other. There are another 4 or 5 wineries in the village but I either haven't been there or can't recommend their wines.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MRYfoodie

        I visited Bernardus and Talbott last year and enjoyed both. Sorry to
        have missed Parsonage. Do you have recommendations for the
        wineries on River Road?

        1. re: bclevy

          MRYfoodie nailed it - Parsonage is best all around wine, Talbott has killer chards. Only thing I would add is that Georgis has a great back patio area - it's the prettiest tasting space IMO. But, it's also the most expensive tasting although the pours are generous and one tasting could be shared by two.

      2. Just an update - the row of shops where the Parsonage tasting room is located is undergoing a major turnover - soon there will be six tasting rooms all in a row. Haven't tasted many of the new wineries as they are smaller boutique type wineries making their tasting room debuts. I'll report back when they open and I have had a chance to stop by - but for now this is a great development.

        With the new tasting rooms, I think that will bring Carmel Valley village up to 20 tasting rooms, definitely making this a don't miss destination.

        5 Replies
        1. re: MRYfoodie

          Thanks for the update, we'll be there the end of the month. Are things in an uproar or does it appear to be in the finishing stages?

          1. re: Gail

            Very much in the finishing stages as of last weekend - two were open - Parsonage and Joyce and another two seemed close. I'll drive by later today and see where things are at.

            1. re: MRYfoodie

              Sounds great, thanks.
              BTW, last spring we had a wonderful lunch at Plaza Linda. We were a bit hesitant because of all the raving about their night time entertainment. What do the locals think of the food. We will be back there for sure.

              1. re: Gail

                Honestly not a fan of Plaza Linda. Started down hill under the old owners and accelerated down the hill (in my opinion) under the new ones.

                Greatly prefer Cafe Rustica or Toast. Corkscrew would be my third choice. Also, over in the middle of the winery row is a little mexican place if you are in the mood for Mexican which is pretty good.

                BTW - drove past - still only two open.

                Cafe Rustica
                10 Del Fino Pl, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

                1. re: MRYfoodie

                  Thanks, looking forward to checking out the new tasting rooms.
                  Also, just didn't think there would be a favorable review for Plaza Linda from locals..too bad.
                  I do appreciate the recos for the others, we love both Rustica and Corkscrew. Just tried something new last time and liked it too.