Few vineyards can be spotted from the road that follows the Carmel river and takes you to Carmel Valley Village, about 12 miles from the mouth of the valley. Although the size of the appellation is over 19,000 acres, less than 300 acres is under vine. The rest is a pastoral scenery of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral. The primary grape growing area follows the Carmel River as well as the adjacent Cachagua Valley (an Indian derivative of the French cacher and Spanish agua that means hidden springs). With some parts of the valley enjoying more than 300 sunny days a year, it is warmer than the close by Santa Lucia Highlands appellation and is suitable for growing Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Because most of the wineries are in the upper part of the valley and can be difficult to reach, they have conveniently located their tasting rooms within a few steps of one another in the center of Carmel Valley Village. During my recent 2-day stay in the area, I was able to taste the wines of Talbott Vineyards, Bernardus Winery, Joullian Winery, and Pelerin Wines in Salinas.
Coming next: tasting the wines of Talbott Vineyards.
Technorati tags: wine food & drink