Tasting rooms spring up in Central Coast village
Carmel, Calif.—Like grapes, wineries tend to thrive in tight clusters. In recent months, a cluster has been ripening in a somewhat unlikely location: Carmel by the Sea, an affluent enclave of Monterey County, long favored for its pristine beach, boutiques and art galleries. For a pricey, artsy hamlet where no wine is produced, its new identity as a wine attraction is a happy stretch.
Gradually gaining recognition as a source of fine grapes and wines— Burgundian varieties from the Santa Lucia Highlands; Bordeaux and Rhone grapes from the warmer inland valleys—Monterey County attracts millions of international visitors every year. Drawn to a spectacular coastline (think Big Sur and 17-Mile Drive), world class golf resorts (Pebble Beach), historic sites (Cannery Row, Mission Carmel); deep sea fishing, whale watching, a renowned aquarium and musical events including the Monterey Jazz Festival, many tourists return year after year to their favorite haunts.
Relatively few visitors, however, ever venture inland, where some 39,300 acres of grapes feed 83 wineries (per WinesVinesDATA). The hamlet of Carmel Valley Village, accessed by a 12-mile drive through golf, tennis and equestrian resorts, has developed into a winetasting center with a handful of tasting rooms within walking distance.
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