You may not guess it, but the picturesque Carmel Valley AVA is California’s 13th oldest, inaugurated in January of 1983, and preceding the recognition of well-known AVAs like Carneros and Alexander Valley. It is a miniscule area, relative to its neighbors, with just 300 acres under vine.
To get there, take the scenic Carmel Valley Road inland from Highway 1 past the hamlet of Carmel Valley. Plenty of tasting rooms are within easy access of Carmel Valley Road, including: Morgan Winery, Chateau Julien Wine Estate, Boekenoogen, Chateau Sinnet, Talbott Vineyards, Joyce Vineyards, Wines of Carmel, Bernardus Winery and others. Most of the vineyards, however, are not visible from the road, but rather at 1,000 feet elevation in the Santa Lucia Mountains. Because the vineyards are planted mostly on mountainous terrain, predominantly in the highly prized San Andreas Fine Sandy Loam and the Arroyo Seco Gravelly Sandy Loam soils, the vines enjoy ideal drainage and optimal airflow through the root system. It requires minimal amounts of supplemental irrigation by the grower and results in healthy, vibrant grapes.
The climate in the Carmel Valley is cooler than, say, Napa Valley, but the elevation and protection of the neighboring mountains keep it warm relative to the rest of the coastal Monterey AVAs, thereby making it an excellent host for varietals that can’t grow anywhere else nearby. For instance, the Carmel Valley’s occasional 50-degree diurnal swing provides just the right conditions for concentrated Bordeaux-varietal wines. In addition, new vineyards in the Carmel Valley are utilizing the numerous microclimates within the AVA to plant Burgundian varietals.
Elegant accommodations, enchanting eateries, galleries, boutiques, hiking trails, equestrian stops and much more all contribute to an ideal Monterey Wine Country experience of Carmel Valley.