Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea Tasting Room Tour - (2019)

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Carmel-by-the-Sea is home to 17 (at last count) wine tasting rooms. There are two ways to go about sampling the wares of Carmel's wine rooms.  If you are in town for just a short time and do not plan on coming back, pick one or two that interest you from this blog post, drop in and enjoy.  

If you are a local or come to Carmel often, the best deal is to purchase a Carmel Wine Walk Passport from Blair Estate Tasting Room located on the lower level of Carmel Plaza, Ocean Avenue between Junipero and Mission.   

The current cost (as of 1/2019) of the Carmel Wine Passport is $100.00.  This entitles the buyer to three or four 1 ounce pours at 10 of the 13 participating wine tasting rooms listed on the passport.  

So how does this Passport thing work if you are not able to visit all 10 of the locations in one day or weekend?   The good news is that there is no expiration date on the Passport.  

How do you use the Passport?  When you arrive at a wine room, present your pass.  Ask the Bar Keep what options they are pouring for the Passport. If you are stepping out with your significant other or a friend you may want to just use one pass but share one glass  - yes you may do this.  Less wine per person but you may each enjoy a taste, which honestly is what this is about.  If you have more questions on the Wine Tasting Passport call Blair Estate Tasting at 831/625-WINE.

Another feature of the Passport is that a bottle of wine purchased at participating wine rooms may be taken to selected restaurants and the corkage fee is waved! There are rules for this, so to avoid disappointment please make sure you inquire at the wine room you are visiting how you might go about enjoying a bottle of their wine with dinner in town, and have the corkage fee waved. 

Most of the wine rooms reviewed may be booked for special events.  Make sure you call ahead to verify times listed as these do change between winter and summer. Now that all the how-tos, conditions, and rules are behind us we can get on with the review listed in approximate alphabetical order. Enjoy Carmel-by-the-Sea wine tasting venues. Salute! 

 Albatross Ridge 
Dolores between Ocean & Sixth
Sunday - Thursday Noon - 7pm
Friday - Saturday Noon - 9pm

In 2006 father and son team Brad and Garrett Bowlus  found a site situated between the elevations of 850 and 1,250 feet perched on a mountaintop seven miles from the Pacific Ocean. There was serendipity in this location, as it was one of the take off points used by Brad's grandfather, William Hawley Bowlus, for his sailplane in the 1930s. They named the area Abatross Ridge and set about planting 25 acres of vines in 2008.  
Albatross Ridge is not part of the Wine Passport but it is a prominent wine room located in the historic Art Deco style Bank of Carmel building.  Stop by and sample their Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.  

Blair Estate Artisan Wines
Lower Level Carmel Plaza
Ocean Avenue between Junipero and Mission
 (Wine Passport
Sunday - Thursday 11- 6pm
Friday - Saturday 11 - 7pm

In 2007 Jeffrey Blair planted the first Pinot Noir grapes on his beloved grandmother Delfina's property in the Arroyo Seco Appellations.  Their debut release produced 258 cases of 2010 Pinot Noir Delfina's Vineyard.  

With the success of this Pinot, Blair Estate expanded their varietals.  Now there are four main varietals, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Rosé of Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. 

Dolores east side between
 Ocean Avenue and 7th
(Wine Passport)

Salinas Valley native, Gary Caraccioli launched Caraccioli Cellars in 2006 after convincing his uncle and brother to go into the wine making business.  His goal, making an exclusive and original wine to the Santa Lucia Highlands. This turned out to be a sparkling wine. 

The Caraccioli family is serious about their sparkling wine, which undergoes a labor-intensive secondary fermentation, called méthod champenoise to create all the bubbles in their Brut Cuvée.  They also not only abide by the French law on Champagne but exceed it.

French law requires Champagne Houses in France use only the first 150 gallons of juice extracted from each ton of grapes.  Caraccioli Cellars uses only the first 120 gallons providing the best ‘heart’ juice from each grape. 

Caraccioli Cellars is located under the green awning in the historic Spanish Revival style Leidig Building on Dolores. Enjoy a seat at their long Perota bar which offers plenty of space to sample a flight of wine with friends.  Or check this place out for dessert after dinner and pair your Caraccioli's Brut Cuvée with one of their small plates such as Moonstruck Chocolates! Caraccioli Cellars serves three varietals besides the Brut Cuvée, Brut Rosé, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. 

 Dawn's Dream
NW Corner 7th and San Carlos
(Wine Passport)
Monday - Wednesday 12 - 6pm
Thursday - Sunday 12 - 7pm

Dawn Galante's dream was to open a wine room in downtown Carmel near her husband Jack's Galante Vineyard wine room.  Her dream came true in 2014.

Located behind Thinker Toys in the Plaza San Carlos this wine room features three varietals, Pinot Noir, Rosé, and Chardonnay. 

The Cheese Shop 
Lower Level Carmel Plaza
Monday - Saturday 10 - 6pm
Sunday 11 - 5:30pm

This is not on the Wine Passport.  Here you will find more kinds of cheese than you ever thought could have existed.  You can try as many as you like. It is a great place to pick up a picnic lunch, and bottle of wine. 


Mission between Fifth and Sixth
(Wine Passport)
Monday - Thursday 2 - 6pm
Friday - Sunday 12 - 8pm

In the mid 1990's Tom and Carol Russell began looking for the perfect property to build an artisan winery as well as a home.  They selected a south west facing 40 acre farm in Corral de Tierra on the Monterey Peninsula midway between the Santa Lucia Highlands and Carmel Valley.  

The vineyard is SIP Certified, which stands for Sustainability in Practice.  This unique certification goes beyond just being “green.” A  SIP Certified vineyard, farms in a way that protects both natural and human resources. 

Today, De Tierra is owned and run by Dan McDonnal and Alix Lynn Bosch who produce five estate varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc.  All are SIP certified sustainably harvested wines.   

Behind Picadilly Park
via Der Ling Lane
(Wine Passport)
Monday - Wednesday 12 -6pm
Thursday - Sunday 12 - 7 pm

Opening its doors in 2004, Galante Vineyards has the pleasure of being the first wine tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It can be reached from the west side of Dolores Avenue between Ocean and Seventh behind Picadilly Park, or via Der Ling Lane, the location of one of Carmel's quaint courtyards.

Der Ling Lane is located under the arch doorway on the south side of Ocean Avenue between Dolores and Lincoln. How Der Ling Lane received this name is another story and part of our self-guided walk and history of Ocean Avenue. When you see Cowboy Slim you will know you have reached your destination. 

The Galante family history in Carmel goes back to 1902 when James Franklin Devendorf and Frank Powers formed Carmel Development Company and 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 James Franklin Devendorf. In 1969, Jack’s parents purchased a 700 acre cattle ranch in Carmel Valley.  While ranching they began growing grapes on their property.

In 1994, Jack built a winery to produce their 100% estate wines.  Today Galante Vineyards is known for their premier Cabernet Sauvignon.  They also feature Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Sauvignon Blanc.

The beautifully remodeled Carmel Plaza with cozy fire pits and the famous Fountain of Woof is home to three wine rooms, Blair, Wrath, and Hahn.

The lower level of Carmel Plaza is also the location of the Cheese Shop (mentioned earlier) and Carmel's first brewery Yeast of Eden.  Here we are enjoying the Barrel Room at Yeast of Eden.

Hahn Family Tasting Room 
Lower Level Carmel Plaza
Daily 12 - 6pm

The Hahn Family Tasting Room features Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Hahn GSM which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  Though not on the wine Passport, they are worth the visit.  

Seventh Avenue between Dolores and San Carlos
(Wine Passport)
Sunday - Thursday 12 - 6pm
Friday - Saturday 12 - 7pm

Holman Ranch is the only 100% single estate producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Carmel Appellation.  There other two top varietals are Pinot Gris and a Sparkling Rosé.

Paseo Courtyard
San Carlos between Ocean & Seventh
(Wine Passport)
Sunday - Thursday 12 - 6pm
Friday - Saturday 12 - 7pm

The Manzoni family has lived and farmed in the Santa Lucia Highlands since the 1930s.  Initially in the dairy business, this evolved to crop farming, and finally into wine making when the family converted six acres of land into vine rootstock in the 1990s. 

They specialize in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Syrah.  Stop by their wine room and your host will most likely be managing partner Mark Manzoni himself or Ms. Vina who really runs the place.  Here she is posing perfectly coiffed in front of her antique bar. 

Dolores between Ocean and Seventh
(Wine Passport)
Sunday - Thursday 12 - 7pm
Friday - Saturday 12 - 8pm

Scratch Wine, located inside the Winfield Gallery in the historic De Yoe Building on Dolores, is a celebration of art and wine.  

Winemaker Sabrine Rodems features four varietals in her downtown Carmel wine room:  Riesling, Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Scheid Tasting Room 
San Carlos and Seventh
Bell Tower Court
(Wine Passport)
Sunday - Thursday 12 - 6pm
Friday - Saturday 12 - 7pm

It is said, a great wine begins in the vineyard.  Al Scheid 

knew this to be true, which is why in 1971 he purchased acreage in Monterey County based on the advice of Professor A. J. Winkler of the University of California at Davis.  Winkler, a professor of Viticulture and Enology determined that Monterey County was comparable to Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy, and Bordeaux.

Scheid also believed that in order to grow the highest quality wine grapes one had to adhere to the three E's of sustainability: environmentally sound practices, social equity, and economic viability.   

Scheid features Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Shale Canyon Tasting Room
The Paseo Courtyard
San Carlos between Ocean and Seventh
(Wine Passport)
Daily 12 - 6pm
 Sixth-generation Salinas Valley brothers, Jake, Keith, and Tim Prader, plated Shale Canyon vineyard with a number of red varietals in 2008.  The vineyard is on such an isolated property in the upper portion of the Arroyo Seco Canyon, that production is run totally off the grid with a propane stove and well pump powered by a photovoltaic cell system (solar).

Shale Canyon specializes in small lots of hand crafted varietals of Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Sirah, Malbec, Mourvedre, and Zinfandel. 

Shale Canyon supplements their wine production with grapes purchased from a number of areas.  Chardonnay, Syrah and Merlot come from vineyards in the Arroyo Seco.  Zinfandel from Dry Creek in Healdsburg, and Cabernet from San Benito County.   Currently their tasting room is featuring Zinfandel, Temranillo, Mourvedre, and Bourdeaux.  

Seventh Avenue between Dolores and San Carlos 

(Wine Passport)

Monday - Wednesday 12 - 6pm

Thursday - Sunday 12 - 7pm


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 Carmel Valley. 

As passionate about his wine as he is about his music Alan says, "There's something about the elemental side of wine making that appeals to me. Both music making and wine making involve the blending of art and science.  Just as each note brings its own voice to the melody, each vine brings its own unique personality to the wine.” 

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 is located in the historic Enchanted Oaks building. They feature Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Barbera. 

NE Corner of Dolores and Seventh
3:30 - 10:00pm
Happy Hour 3:30 - 6pm


Vino Napoli is located in the historic El Paseo building. It is the largest tasting room in town with over 1,000 square feet, featuring two flat screen TV’s (baseball, soccer, football), and a half dozen café style tables some placed on top of wine barrels.

There is also a cozy fireplace for when the fog rolls in just at 
cocktail hour during our summer months. 
They also offer a  nice selection of light appetizers. These are shown on the chalk board and change periodically.   


Today's selection were the "lollipops" that we love to order at Vesuvio's roof-top (another one of the Pèpe family of restaurants and our favorite Happy Hour restaurant!)

Vino Napoli is not on the Wine Passport.  It is considered a wine bar, which means if you would rather just enjoy a 6 ounce glass of wine with friends - by all means this is the place. 

Must be over 21 to enter, unless you are furry and well groomed! 

Lincoln between Ocean and Sixth
Pine Inn Courtyard
(Wine Passport)
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 2 - 6pm
Friday - Sunday 12 - 7pm

Founded in 1996 by Jim and Judy Schultz, Windy Oaks vineyards are located on a windy ridge in Corralitos overlooking Monterey Bay.

With Jim as the winemaker their first vintage was a 1999 Pinot Noir.  Today the family farms a total of 26 acres of Pinot Noir and one acre of Chardonnay.  

In 2011 Jim and Judy's sons, Spencer and Lucas completed the Winemaking Certification program at UC Davis and have joined their parents in winemaking and vineyard management. Windy Oaks features Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rhone Varietals. 

Lower Level Carmel Plaza
Ocean and Junipero
(Wine Passport)
Monday - Saturday 11 - 6pm
Sunday 11 - 5pm

Wrath Co-owner, Michael Thomas came to wine-making by way of the world of academia. With a PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology, Michael spent fifteen years excavating sights and living in Italy.  It was during that time he also developed his passion for wine.

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.”   They worked with Steve McIntyre to become SIP Certified, developing a sustainable program specific to their vineyards unique conditions. 

Wrath Tasting Room features four top varietals, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. 

That is it for this review - it is clear, if you are looking for a wine experience, downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea has a great deal!  The Wine Passport at $100.  Drink responsibly, stay in one of our hotels, and walk to all our wine rooms. Remember, currently the Passport has no expiration.  


For an interactive map from GPSmyCity for many of my blog post please visit this site.

All pictures by L. A. Momboisse unless listed below: