24th Annual Winemakers' Celebration - Carmel-by-the-Sea - May 7, 2016

Life is all about the journey and so is wine-making. After more than 50 years of commercial wine growing in Monterey Country, winemakers identified eight American Viticultural Areas (AVA's), in addition to the larger Monterey appellation.

Each of these areas defines itself through the traits of its terroir (French for region or land) which in the case of wine means - soil, climate, terrain, and viticultural practice.

Folklore Vineyards

Winemakers source grapes from 175 vineyards that are spread mostly along the 90 mile long valley that runs through Monterey county.

The cooler northern areas grow exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.  The warmest southern most end produce outstanding Cabernet and Zinfandel.

In between the north and south, this valley experiences what is called a Thermal Rainbow ™  with temperatures growing slightly warmer as vineyards move inland.  This creates the numerous micro-climates that support the forty plus wine varietals of Monterey County.  

For the past 25 years, Monterey winemakers have come together and shared the fruits of their toils at the Winemakers' Celebration. This year's event in Carmel-by-the-Sea will take place on May 7, 2017.  This event is an marvelous opportunity to sample locals wines, talk to the winemakers, as well as enjoy food prepared by our outstanding local restaurants.  This event, well worth the price of admission, sells out every year!  

The following is a review of the 24th Annual Winemaker's Celebration.

On an overcast Saturday in May 2016 a long line of VIP's (not disillusioned by the weather) waited for the 24th Annual Winemakers' Celebration to begin. This event, which sells out every year, is put on by the Monterey County Vintners & Growers to celebrate the wines and winemakers of the world-class growing region of Monterey County.

VIP's, not only get in one hour early, they had full use of the private venue at the event center of Seventh & Dolores where VIP's were treated to pourings of exclusive vintages and small lot wines, as well as food pairings, and chef demonstrations.  And if that wasn't enough, two additional packages could be added for an additional cost, the Sommeliers Guided Tour and Custom Blending Experience.

The 2016 event expanded its offerings and its footprint from 2015.  35 wineries featuring over 200 wines from Monterey County, as well as 20 local restaurants and booths lined two city blocks of the historic downtown district of Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

Grab your glass and come along on the adventure.  


Historic Court of the Golden Bough

Alexander - Smith
Court of the Golden Bough

If you do not have time to visit their tranquil estate Paraiso vineyard in Soledad, you may taste the wines of Alexander-Smith at their wine room in the whimsical and European style Court of the Golden Bough.  

Danielle Murphy, the Alexander-Smith wine club manager was pouring at the Winemakers' Celebration. 

On hand were a 2014 Paraiso Pinot Noir and 2015 Rose out of Monterey county along with the 2014 Alexander-Smith Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Our choice, the Chardonnay, a full-bodied wine made exclusively from estate grown grapes that came from an Old Dijon clone planted on their estate vineyard in the 1970s. 

Shale Canyon 
Paseo San Carlos Courtyard 

Blair and Shale Canyon Wine Room 

Blair Estate Wines and Shale Canyon Wines share a wine room in the downtown Carmel Pasco San Carlos Courtyard.  

Winemaker Jeffrey Blair was on hand to pour their 2010 and 2012 Pinot Noir. Grapes are sourced from their Delfina estate vineyard in the Arroyo Seco appellation, with its morning fogs and afternoon winds the temperature is perfect for long growing season of the Pinot Noir grape.

Shale Canyon wines, established in 2008, is owned by three brothers, one of which, Tim Prader, was on hand pouring their 2013 Tempranillo with grapes sourced from their estate vineyard in Arroyo Seco.

The Tempranillo grape ripens several weeks earlier than other reds (hence the name temprano Spanish for early) and is grown to produce a full-bodied red. 

Shale runs its winery 100% off the grid on solar power.  They specialize in reds and all of their wines are estate grown.  

Paseo San Carlos Courtyard

The Manzoni family has lived and farmed in the Santa Lucia Highlands since the 1930s, initially in the dairy business which evolved to crop farming and finally into wine making in the 1990s. They are a small estate vineyard producing less than 2,000 cases annually of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. They have two tasting rooms.  One in Carmel, which is part of the Carmel Wine Walk, and one at their vineyard in Soledad. 
Vina watching over the wine room in Carmel 

We tasted the 2014 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard. Winemaker David Coventry described this vintage as an elegant pinot with a lot of density and power but very nimble. Yes, it was tasty.

Carmel Road
Pine Inn Courtyard

Carmel Road Wine Room - Pine Inn Courtyard

One of the newer wine rooms in town, Carmel Road partnered with Drew Barrymore to produce her Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and, Rosé of Pinot Nior introduced at the 2016 Pebble Beach Food and Wine.

Carmel Road tasting room manager, Chrissy Gray poured the 2013 Unoaked Riesling (100% stainless steel fermented) with grapes sourced from the Carmel Road estate Panorama Vineyard of the Santa Lucia Highlands.  This Riesling had vibrant fruit flavors with notes of apricots, and lime. 

 Trió Carmel and I. Brand & Family Wines 

Winemaker Ian Brand puts miles on his car as he searches for just the right grapes in the remote back road vineyards of San Antonio Valley, San Benito Valley, and Arroyo Seco.

From these grapes he creates wines for 12 different labels, including two of his own, Le P’Tit Paysan and la Marea.

Heather Brand 

Ian was hard at work at the winery, but his wife and General Manager Heather was on hand pouring their dry and refreshing 2015 Rosé 

made from Mourvdre grapes sourced from the limestone rich clay of the Spur Ranch and Grenache and Cinsault from the granite bluffs above Arroyo Seco. 

Our second tasting the 2015 Chardonnay with grapes picked from the northern Salinas Valley Jack’s Hill vineyard was light and refreshing with hint of apple.

Trió Carmel

The I Brand & Family wines are available for tasting at Trió Carmel on Dolores. 

Karl Empey 

Trió, owned by Karl and Charlotte Empey, is a venue where one may make their own combination of olive oils and balsamic vinegar's while enjoying contemporary art and sampling fine wines.

Figge Cellars

Historic DeYoe Building 

Figge Cellars is located in the historic DeYoe Building on Dolores, 

inside Winfield Gallery.  Winfield Gallery is owned by multi-media artist Christopher Winfield

Keith Richards "Patience Please" by Ethan Russell (1972) 

It was at Winfield Gallery where we were introduced to the classic rock art photography of Ethan Russell and Figge wines.  

During the Winemakers' Celebration Peter Figge was pouring his handcrafted small lot production wines.

Peter Figge

Peter sources his grapes from Pelio, Paraiso, River Road, and Sycamore Flat vineyards in Monterey County. 

Today he was featuring his vanilla scented 2013 River Road Chardonnay, a dry 2015 Rosè of Pinot Noir, and full bodied 2013 Paraiso Pinot Noir. 

Galante Vineyards
End of Der Ling Lane

Galante Vineyards has the pleasure of being the very first tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea, having opened in 2004.  It can be reached by one of Carmel's secret passageways, Der Ling Lane.  It is also one of the wine rooms on the Carmel-by-the-Sea Wine Walk.  

The Galante family history in Carmel goes way back -- back to 1902 when Frank Devendorf and Frank Powers filed a new subdivision map that would eventually become the core of the village of Carmel.  Jack Galante, the owner of Galante Vineyards is the great grandson of Frank Devendorf.  

Galante is known for their reds.  We tried the full-bodied 2012 Ace High Malbec with grapes sourced from Carmel Valley.  

For Carmel's centennial year, Jack created the 2013 Centennial Red, made with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Petite Sirah, all grapes are sourced from the Galante estate vineyard in Carmel Valley.  Only 300 cases were produced part of the proceeds from sales will go to Carmel Sunset Center. 

Stop by their wine room in town or experience the rustic elegance of Galante Vineyards with a private tour of their winery in Cachagua Valley just south of Carmel Valley.   

Dawn's Dream
Plaza San Carlos


Dawn Galante, wife of Galante Vineyard's Jack Galante, opened Dawn's Dream tasting room in Carmel in February 2014.  

Today her event coordinator Georgetta Cash was pouring two of Dawn's Dream Winery's current vintage, both were refreshing and light. A 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé with grapes sourced from the Santa Lucia Highlands and a 2015 Chardonnay with grapes sourced from Arroyo Seco AVA.  

Scheid Vineyards
Bell Tower Court

In 1971, Al Scheid purchased the acreage for his vineyard in Monterey County on the advice of his professor of Viticulture and Enology at University of California at Davis.  It was Professor Winkler's belief that grapes grown in Monterey county were comparable to those grown in Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy and Bordeaux.  

Now in its 45th year of farming, Scheid is composed of ten estate vineyards located along a 70-mile stretch of Salinas Valley, encompassing four different climate zones where 36 varietals are planted. They are still family owned and 100% sustainably certified. Their wine room which is part of the Carmel Wine Walk is located on San Carlos and Seventh near Bell Tower Court. They also have a wine room at their estate winery in Greenfield. 

During the Winemakers' Celebration, the Director of Winemaking, Dave Nagengast was on hand to pour a perfectly blended vintage the 2012 Triple Layer Red comprised of Grenache from the Scheid Vineyard in Arroyo Seco and San Lucas Vineyard, Syrah grapes sourced from San Lucas and Mesa del Rio Vineyard, and Mourvèdre from the Hames Valley. Each grape picked for its contribution to the vintage.

Dave Nagengast, Director of Winemaking Scheid

Enchanted Oaks Building

Historic Enchanted Oaks Building 

In 1989, after a successful career as a music composer, writing over 100 scores for film, Alan Silvestri moved his family from Los Angeles to the Carmel Valley.

Silvestri Wine Room

In the spring of 2000 Alan and his wife Sandra began a new adventure. They planted three varieties of grapes on their ten plus acres in Carmel Valley. Their first harvest of 100% estate grown grapes of the Silvestri Vineyards was in the Fall of 2003.

Silvestri Vineyards Wine Room, decorated with movie posters (Bodyguard, The Polar Express, Forrest Gump, Romancing the Stone, Predator, the list is extensive) for which Alan wrote each score, is located in the historic Tudor style Enchanted Oaks Building in the historic downtown area of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

At the Winemakers' Celebration we enjoyed the deliciously deep flavored 2013 Pinot Noir, Rising Tide from their estate vineyard in Carmel Valley. 

Windy Oaks 
Su Vecino Courtyard

Jim and Judy Schultze founded Windy Oaks in 1996 on a windy ridge overlooking Monterey Bay in Corralitos.  It is here that they planted their first three acres of Pinot Noir. Today, they have a total of 26 acres of Pinot and one acre of Chardonnay planted on their estate vineyard. 

Windy Oaks Wine Room - Su Vecino Courtyard

In 2011, after a very small yield from their estate grapes, Jim realized that the family needed to find more sources of quality grapes to make Windy Oaks financially viable.  Jim found those grapes, by making connections with other growers in both Santa Cruz and Monterey County.   

Our taste of the limited release, wood tank fermented 2013Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation was pleasantly soft and light on the palate.  Stop by their wine room in the Su Vecio Courtyard to try more of their wines. 

 Wrath Wines and  Scratch Wines
Carmel Plaza

Wrath Wine Tasting Room Carmel Plaza 

In 2007, the Thomas family purchased San Saba Vineyards, in the Santa Lucia Highlands and “set out to dramatically change the estate’s wine and viticulture” with the production of Wrath wines.

Currently they produce limited quantities of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc using grapes sourced from their estate vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. 

We tried the Wrath 2014 Ex Anima Chardonnay.  Ex Anima, which is Latin for “from the soul”, is the title of a series of wines from Wrath that use minimal wine making intervention, creating a wine that expresses precisely the climate and the soils that “form the soul” of the Wrath estate vineyard.  

Enjoy Wrath Wine at their tasting room in Carmel Plaza in downtown Carmel or on Foothill Road in Soledad. 

Wrath wine maker Sabrine Rodems was on hand to introduce her own label Scratch Wines. During the Winemakers' Celebration she was pouring the very refreshing and dry with hits of strawberry, 2014 Scratch Rosé

J. Lohr

The California Central Coast had not emerged as a world-class wine growing region when Jerry Lohr selected the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County for his first vineyard in 1972. Today, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines farms over 1,300 acres of estate vineyards in Monterey County and a second generation of Lohr family members are manning the vineyard from the corporate office on Lenzen Avenue in San Jose, California.  This is also their closest tasting room.  

Kristen Barnhisel

Jerry Lohr’s youngest son Lawrence, who is Director of Wine Education was at the Winemakers’ Celebration along with Kristen Barnhisel, J. Lohr’s white wine maker. Kristen gave us a run down on the 2013 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay Arroyo Seco Monterey AVA, “It is 100% Chardonnay grape which are handpicked at night, fermented,  then aged 14 months in new French oak barrels.”  The result, a delicious white wine. 

The Wine Experience
Cannery Row

The Wine Experience Cannery Row

Located on Cannery Row, The Wine Experience is geared to any level of wine enthusiast; they offer a variety of experiences including wine tasting, informative wine classes, wine blending, and wine making.

At the Winemakers' Celebration, owner Brent Virgin helped us blend our own wine. Step one, sample the wines Brent brought to use in the blending. 

Brent Virgin

Three oak barrels were on hand, one filled with Grenache a medium body wine, next was a Sirah which was a bit heavier, and finally the Petit Sirah, the heaviest. Step two, decide which blend we liked the best and make that our base. 
Step three get out the science beakers and start measuring different ratios of the other two blends and add it to our base, making sure to keep copious notes on the Wine Blending Map. There was not enough time to do this property during the Winemakers’ Celebration but we have now put The Wine Experience in Cannery Row on our list of must dos!  

Sixth and San Carlos


Known for its modern stream lined interior, where old movies play on television instead of sporting events, and the farm to table menu created by executive chef Nico Izard changes frequently, Affina is located on the north side of Ocean Avenue, the quiet side of town.  

Assistant Chef Bishoy served up light bites of mushroom and churrasco risotto.  

Basil Seasonal Dining 
Paseo San Carlos Courtyard

Basil Seasonal Dining - Paseo San Carlos Courtyard

Chef, and co-owner of Basil Seasonal Dining, Soerke Peters, has a passion for sustainability and Farm to Table food.

He was integral in making Basil the first (and only) Certified Green Restaurant in Carmel.  

During the Winemakers' Celebration he served a crisp and flavorful rendered bacon fat waffle with smoked bacon, dotted with ricotta, and topped with thinly sliced prosciutto. 

Il Fornaio 
Inside the Pine Inn 


Il Fornaio, located in the historic Pine Inn on Ocean Avenue serves award wining Italian cuisine.   

During the Winemakers' Celebration they offered some quick bites between tasting: individual mini fruit tarts, marinated green olives, and porchetta.

Il Tegamino 
Court of the Golden Bough 

Il Tegamino means "the pan" and is a tribute to the owner's, brothers Giuseppe and Salvatore, mother Rita who, they say, is responsible for their culinary skills.

Giuseppe and Salvatore opened Il Tegamino in October 2015.  It is a cozy restaurant with 18 seats inside...

...and 28 on the charming European style courtyard patio.

At the restaurant, Giuseppe runs the front of the house, while Salvatore is master of the kitchen where the menu takes its roots from many of Rita's recipes. 

During the Winemakers' Celebration, Giuseppe was handling the cooking serving up a tasty zucchine alla parmigiana con bruschetta.

La Balena 
Junipero Street

La Balena may mean whale in Italian but executive Chef Brad Briske was all about pig. 

Chef Brad deconstructed Porky by removing all meat and muscles.  Then carefully reconstructed him by stuffing his meat back inside his pork skin cavity. 

This was then covered with sugar which when cured made a beautiful glistening "skin". 

Deliciousness bites of Porky were served
on a crispy bed of romaine lettuce

La Bicyclette
Kocher Building 

La Bicyclette

The menu at La Bicyclette is sourced from local ingredients and is frequently changed with the seasons. 

For the Winemakers' Celebration, Executive Chef Brian Kearns whipped up a succulent pork belly topped  with ginger and carrot puree, pickled mustard seeds, a sliver of radish and daikon radish spouts. That is one big juicy bite!

 Little Napoli 
El Paseo Building

Everyone in town knows Chef Pèpe either personally or by sight.

Sometimes you can swear to have seen him in two different places at the same time; he is that visible, that involved, and that friendly.

 Pèpe a Go Go

An Italian American from New Jersey, he grew up working in the family bakery. Pèpe arrived in the Monterey area in 1974 and worked as a baker in Carmel until he was able to purchase the oldest business in town, the historic Carmel Bakery, in 1985.

Historic El Paseo Building 

In 1990 he opened Little Napoli, in the historic El Paseo Building. Five years ago he opened one of our favorite hangouts, Vesuvio

Pèpe's, no one can eat just one, chocolate cannoli, was the perfect pair with a Monterey County Syrah.  

Cantinetta Luca 
Next to Picadilly Park

Located next to Piccadilly Park on Dolores Street, Cantinetta Luca's kitchen is open to customers.  Guests may watch while the Chef Balestrieri prepares their meal using authentic Italian ingredients imported from Italy.  They may also purchase Italian salami, cheese, breads, and dry pasta from the Salumeria Luca next door.  

During the Winemakers' Celebration the "kitchen" was open to guests who watched as Chef Jason Balestrieri and his current sous-chef prepared a delightful thinly sliced beet cured halibut with asparagus, radish, and pine nuts.  

Carmel Square 


Gabe Georis comes from a family of restaurateurs. His father Gaston Georis owns La Bicyclette and his uncle Walter, Casanova. After working in both family restaurants, Gabe set off on his own in 2009 with the opening of Mundaka Restaurant, 

a vibrant tapas bar, which sits at the back of Carmel Square, and next door to Gabe’s other establishment Barmel.


Mundaka chef, Brandon Miller, gave a dynamic demonstration cooking his signature paella in an enormous wok. 

Scraping the bottom of the pan and spooning a dark mixture on the plate, Chef Miller told us,

“Italians want their rice creamy, but Spaniards expect their rice to be caramelized – they love socorrat.” Plates are prepared, first the socorrat, the crusty rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan that most people discard, then a fresh sunny side farm egg.

Once guests had devoured this dish, Chef Miller proceeded to whip up a risotto with spicy Merquez sausage, mushrooms, and peas.

And if that wasn’t enough he had one more dish to make, house-made Catalan-style lamb sausage with mushrooms, tomatoes, and peas. 

If this is what he does with one pan and a industrial sized hot-plate, just think of what he can serve up with a full kitchen!

Nothing Bunt Cakes
Carmel Crossroads 
Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz began making cakes for friends and family in 1997.  The cakes were so delicious that Nothing Bundt Cakes was born.  Their business model of choice would be selling franchises.  Jeff and Cristina Joseph would buy two, one in Los Gatos and one in Carmel at the Crossroads Shopping Center. 

Jeff was happy to introduce us to the endless possibilities of moist bunt cakes: 8 inch, 10 inch, tiered, towers, Bundtinis, and Bundtlets. Just suggest an occation, Jeff has an answer with a fully decorated cake. 

And yes each is topped with thick signature frosting or drizzle frosting made with velvety cream cheese and real butter. 

Single bite sample platters are party perfection.

The Brittle Lady

Marsha Taylor is The Brittle Lady.  She creates tons of her delicious gourmet brittle in her kitchen in Carmel and sells it on line and locally at Bruno's and 5th Avenue Deli. 

Our favorite, Salted Chocolate Caramel Brittle. Words can not describe how yummy this is.  You will just have to taste it yourself.  

Alvarado Street Brewery

Periodically during the afternoon we passed guests devouring an obviously delicious and juicy slider.  When we inquired as to where we might find this delicacy, the apparently starving guest would not stop eating but rather with mouth full point in a rather vague direction. 

Finally at the end of the afternoon, we passed the source of our desire, Alvarado Street Brewery.   Chef Jeremiah Tydeman served up 500 pork sliders, and the last one was up for grabs.  

Not being fast enough, we would have to be satisfied for now with a picture. 

Chef Jeremiah Tydeman (left) and Assistant Brewer Wade Caswell

Smiling while apologizing for ruining our afternoon, Assistant Brewer Wade Casewell reminded us that a trip to Alvarado Street Brewery just a few miles away was all that was necessary to enjoy this dish.  

John Hill

Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill is a father son partnership.  John Hill co-founded Hill Glazier Architects in San Francisco in 1980 and brings 35 years of hospitality design experience to this business.  J. C. Hill graduated Cornell University in 2007 with a degree in Hospitality Management and immediately opened his first restaurant in 2009.  In 2013 father and son teamed together in an effort to revitalize Downtown Monterey and opened Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill, a 10 barrel brewpub that specializes in West Coast-style ales. But with J. C. as the head brewer and certified Cicerone™, which is a beer sommelier, you can expect a lot of variety and styles of beer. 

Behind the tap, Daniel "Biggie" Hartmann head bartender at Alvarado Street poured  Mai Tai P.A. Brewed with 100% Mosaic hops, this India pale ale was the 2015 Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal winner in the International-style pale ale.  They say it is okay to burp hops. 

Tarpy's Roadhouse

The area known as Ryan’s Ranch is where Tarpy’s Roadhouse opened in 1992, making its home in the 1917 historic stone building that was part of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ryan’s family homestead.  Executive Chef Todd Fischer is in charge of the menu.  We met him at the Pebble BeachFood and Wine event in 2016 where we sampled his work of art a "Symposium of Skin", crisp pig skin with cured and crispy salmon           

Chef Todd is back with the crispy pig skin he tells us, "we buy the actual skins, scrap them, soak them, and cure them in salt and fry the daylights out of them."   

 Chef is making a pork and beans. Braised pork shoulder with Peruvian  beans, arugula, and pickled red onions...   

...dipped using a fried pig skin like a chip.   

Estancia Estate Vineyards 
Soledad, California 

Realizing the regions optimum climate features for growing grapes, or just out of necessity, the Franciscan friars planted wine grapes in Monterey County near Soledad Mission over 200 years ago. Today Estancia, a subsidiary of one of the world’s leading marketers of beer, wine and spirits, Constellation Brands, continues this practice.

Estancia winemaker Iulian Filimon was on hand to pour the limited 2013 Reserve GSM (73% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 6% Mourvèdre) a grape blend, he said, that "spends the entirety of its life together from vineyard to bottle." Not sure if this is possible, but ready to taste...

...this delicious dark red wine had a faint fruity smell with maybe even a hint of chocolate, yum. 

Thinking we are finally getting the hang of this, Iulian says after swirling his glass, raspberry with notes of nutmeg and cigar box.”  Hello, cigar box?  Yes we do know exactly what that smells like, but is this a good thing?  

Odonata Wines 
River Road, Salinas 

Winemaker Denis Hoey, produced his first wine from the 2005 harvest.  With what he found were endless possibilities of wine varietals, he built his limited production Odonata Wines into the multi-varietal cellar using organic and sustainably 
grown grapes. His current varietals include Malbec, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Riesling, and a Petite Sirah. We tried the full bodied 2013 Syrah with grapes sourced from the Coastview vineyard high in the Gabilan Mountains. Odonata has two wine tasting rooms, Odonata North in Santa Cruz and Odonata South on River Road in Salinas.  

Hahn Estate 
Foothill Road, Soledad 

When Nicky and Gaby Hahn purchased the land in the Santa Lucia Highlands, cattle and sheep roamed the area.  Nicky believed that the area was better suited for vineyards and released his first vintage of Hahn in 1980.  For the next 11 years while producing wine, Nicky was also hard at work getting the Santa Lucia Highlands established as an American Viticultural Area. 

Today the winery is run by Nicky and Gaby’s son Philip who incorporates  an interesting and environmentally sensitive way to control the unwanted birds from their vines, raptors from Tactical Avian Predators.  

Jim and Kathleen Tigan own Tactical Avian Preditors. Kathleen who was holding Louise a Eurasian Owl, explained “starlings can be a real problem in the vineyards, so we use falcons, mainly, to basically scare the starlings out of the vines. They do not kill the birds, they just encourage them to leave.”   

5 West Carmel Valley Road 

Ingrid's Vineyard (Bernardus)

Bernardus Marinus “Ben” Pon is a former Olympian, and sports car racer. A native of the Netherlands Ben represented his native country in clay pigeon shooting in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. Though he could have chosen anywhere in the world to establish his namesake Bernardus Winery, Ben chose Carmel Valley.

He fell in love with the area after visiting in the 1980s and believed it had the potential to be the best viticultural appellation in America for Bordeaux-style red wines. Ben accomplished that with his estate Bordeaux bled, called Marius (his middle name).

We tasted a Bernardus 2012 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir with grapes sourced from one of his three estate vineyards, Ingrid’s Vineyard.  With its aroma of cherry, the finish of this classic crimson color red is oh so soft on the palate.

Big Sur Vineyards
1 Del Fino Place, Carmel Valley

A relative newcomer, Big Sur Vineyards sources grapes for their Pinot Noir, Rosé, Chardonnay and Big Sur Vineyards Red from several vineyards in Monterey county. Colorful labels feature the iconic Bixby Bridge as well as a gray whale tail-slapping and condor in flight. 

But there must be more to wine than pretty labels. The scent of ripe pear was our first impression and then a hint of lemon. “Right on target,” remarked the rep, “the 2014 Chardonnay is a balancing act of sweet and tart.” By George I think we’ve got it!

Cima Collina 
19 E Carmel Valley Road 

Born in Ireland in 1849, Carmel Valley pioneer William Hatton, came to California in 1870. By 1888 he either owned or managed most of the dairies and cattle ranches from Highway 1 to past Carmel Valley Village.

Hatton Lower Dairy c. 1945 

The Hatton Lower Dairy was a landmark until 1965 when it was torn down to build The Barnyard Shopping Center. 

Cima Collina Tasting Room Historic 

In 1890, Hatton built a dairy building in what is now White Oak Plaza in Carmel Valley Village. Today this historic building houses the Cima Collina tasting room.

Cima Collina Winery was started in 2004 by Richard Llumpkin and Annette Hoff Danzer. Winemaker Annette uses as little automation in the wine making process as possible.  The small production of about 3,500 cases annually allows Annette and her crew to become personally familiar with each barrel.  

 Winemaker Annette Hoff Danzer 

Annette sources grapes from five of the eight smaller Monterey County AVA's as well as the Monterey appellation to make Cima Collina Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Meritage, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.  

At the Winemakers' Celebration we tried the 2013 Cedar Lane Sauvignon Blanc  from Arroyo Seco AVA. Though the Arroyo Seco is known to be one of the warmer AVA's, Cedar Lane Vineyard lies at the mouth of the valley where the weather is cooler and perfect for this Sauvignon Blanc with a faint taste of grapefruit.   

Folktale Winery
 Carmel Valley 

In 2015 Chateau Julien sold its vineyard, winery, bottling plant, land and estate residence (all except the brand itself) to Folktale for $12 million. Folktales owners, Greg Ahn and Jonathan White began their careers working for large wine companies then branched out on their own forming Alcohol by Volume Wine Company, which is now merged into Folktale. 

Folktale Vineyard
Greg says, “there is a whole different feel to the property, we have live music with Live on the Vines and serve food.  Our venue is a great place for weddings, reunions or corporate events.” To celebrate they were serving their Folktale Sparkling Rosé soft and effervescent Rosé bubbles.

Folktale Winery

Carmel Valley 

Chef Fabrice Roux uses French techniques and offers a variety of small plates and entrees in a variety of cuisines at his name sake restaurant in Carmel Valley, Roux

Chef offered up French beignets which rae different from New Orleans beignets. Obviously good as they were flying off the plate.

Will's Fargo 
Carmel Valley 

When the old red brick building was built in the 1920s, it was a tea room and roadhouse along the “milk run” between Monterey and Tassajara Road in Carmel Valley. 

Will's Fargo Restaurant 

In 1959 Will Fay established Will’s Fargo Restaurant. The dark saloon like interior is filled with antiques, taxidermied animal heads and steer horns. 

In March of 2016, Greg Karjala took over as executive chef at Wills Fargo. Chef Karjala has worked in the food and beverage industry for 12 years, three years at The Lodge at Carmel Valley Ranch where he was sous chef and two years at The Inn at Spanish Bay where he was Chef de Cuisine at Sticks. 
During the Winemakers’ Celebration he served up a light and tasty chicken liver mousse with a tangy country mustard, chives and sea salt on a sliver of crisp sour dough.

   Robert Mondavi Winery
Central Coast 

Very familiar with Robert Mondavi wines from Napa Valley, we were intrigued by a Mondavi label sporting grapes sourced from Monterey county. 

What we didn't know was that Robert Mondavi had also discovered the Central Coast was perfect for grapes, planting vineyards here years ago.   

Winemaker Jason Dodge was on hand to pour Robert Mondavi deep cherry red Bourbon Barrel aged Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes sourced from Monterey County appellation.

Why bourbon barrels?  "We love bourbon and we love Cabernet so we decided to marry the two flavors. What we created was a really intense Cab that we age for a little over three months in a combination of new and used bourbon barrels. The result is the smell of brown sugar and the taste of ripe blackberries.  It is a perfect marriage," explained Jason.  

And believe it or not, that was just a sampling of what was available at the 2016 Winemakers' Celebration.  Click here for tickets for the 2017 Winemakers' Celebration.

Until Next Time Happy Adventures!

Pictures by LA Momboisse unless listed below:

Black and white picture of Hatton Lower Dairy that was taken town to make way for the Carmel Barnyard Shopping Center in 1995 - taken from Rancho Canada Town Paper

For an interactive map and guided walking tour covering many of our tours please be sure to download the GPSmyCity App from the iTunes store. The App covers an extensive library of articles and walking tours from over 470 cities worldwide, and now features articles from Adventures of a Home Town Tourist covering Carmel and Monterey (with more cities on the way).

For more of my self-guided walks of Carmel

please see GPSmyCity