• Fernanda Secco

USA: Carmel Valley Wine Guide

Californian wines are probably the tastiest in the United States. Their production is so great, that they make 90% of the country's wine. So if California were a country, it would be the 4th largest producer in the world.

The wine heritage in the state begins in the 18th century, when there were still Hispanic Missions. Today the state has several wineries scattered from north to south. The most famous region for wine production in California is undoubtedly Napa Valley and Sonoma, also known as Wine Country. But there are other poles producers which are worth the visit, especially if you are not willing to spend a fortune with hotels.

Promotional photo from Joullian Vineyards

The Carmel Valley region in Monterey County offers a selection of impressive wines. Due to its hot and dry climate the quality is very high, especially for reds. The coolest thing about visiting this area is that you can walk from one tasting room to the next - which is not possible in Napa.

Heller Estate

This was my first stop on the tasting tour. I got an Uber from Carmel Valley Ranch, where we were staying, and I arrived in less than five minutes. Heller is a 100% organic winery that has been operating in the region for many years. The tasting room is small and has only two female employees working, but the house is beautiful and they have a perfect garden for a picnic. They offer two types of tastings: classic for $ 12 / person and premium $ 15 / person. We tasted several wines and my favorite was the 2011 Dancers Meritage, even brought a bottle home!

Address: 69 W Carmel Valley Rd - Carmel Valley, CA Monday through Sunday 11am to 5pm.

Promotional photo by Heller Estate

Joullian Vineyards

Joullian's tasting room is very interesting, it almost seems you are entering a church. Originally, this brand was from another state in the US and they came to California in the 1980s to focus their production in Bordeaux. They were pioneers and produced the first Zinfandel of the region and today offer many variations of this style. Tastings are free if you make a purchase. Address: 2 Village Drive - Carmel Valley, CA Hours: Monday through Sunday 11am to 5pm.

Photo by Fernanda Secco

Joyce Vineyards

Probably the funkiest winery in the area. You already realize that they are smart by the labels, and when you discover the fusions and special blends, it gets even more exciting. The tasting room is beautiful, the soundtrack is modern, the staff is friendly. There was absolutely nothing I did not like about this place. I ended up buying a bottle of Submarine Canyon Pinot Noir and one of their delicious rosé. The place is cool and hip - will not disappoint.

Address: 19 E Carmel Valley Rd - Carmel Valley, CA Hours: Monday to Sunday 12 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo via Yelp by Trev W.

Some invaluable tips for your trip to Carmel Valley:

  • Ask the hotel concièrge if they have tasting vouchers available.

  • Be sure to eat at Cafe Rustica.

  • Write down a local taxi phone in case Uber is not working.

  • Hire a car to go down to Carmel-By-The-Sea for a day

This post was originally published in Portuguese at Chicken or Pasta

#carmelvalley #wineries #californianwine #californiaroadtrip #Monterrey #hellerestate #joullianvineyards #joycevineyards #winetastingincalifornia #caferustica

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