Sunday, April 02, 2006

A trip to Carmel Valley

Who has heard of the Carmel Valley appellation? Until two weeks ago, I believed that this narrow valley that takes you deep into the lush forests of the Santa Lucia Mountains, was just a picture-perfect setting for elegant weddings and anniversary celebrations. It is actually one of the oldest American Viticultural Area in California (colored in light pink on the map).

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:


~ Phyll said...

Hi Catherine, I love your blog! I just found it while googling the TN for the 2001 Logan Pinot Noir, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard that I just had a an hour ago. I saw your blog about your Carmel Valley trip. Coincidentally, I'm planning a week-long trip to the Monterey Bay Peninsula and am looking for suggestions on which wineries to visit. Your blog is exactly what I needed! I also plan to visit Morgan, Siduri, Pisoni and Lucia.


Catherine Granger said...

I am glad you found this post useful!

Other related posts:

There is another small winery we could not visit at the time but it was highly recommended by the locals:

Some of these wineries are so small, they are not open all the time or it is only by appointment so make sure you check in advance when they are open.

Have fun!