Wine tasting in Monterey

Every once in a while a business meeting results in a moment of sheer bliss. A serendipitous moment where personal and professional passions collide. Such was a recent weekend. While I’m not a fan of traveling on a weekend for business when it involves going to one of the most beautiful locations in California, if not the world, I’m going to go early and enjoy every moment possible.

So this past weekend I found myself flying to the tiny airport of Monterey, California. Of course this meant boarding a small little regional jet, at least it was only a 45 minute flight. I really don’t mind the small regional, but know this – your carry on bag will not fit. If it’s bigger than a purse you need to check, either at the gate or through regular bag check.  Don’t try to convince the flight attendant that your bag will fit. It won’t.

After only a 45 minute flight and a few moments to pick up a rental car I was admiring the gorgeous views of the Pacific. The scenery simply takes your breath away. Any opportunity to explore Monterey, Carmel and the Big Sur area should be seized and relished.  Thankfully, Hwy 1 provides numerous pull-outs to stop and take it all in, which you’re compelled to do after nearly every curve of the road.

I managed to enjoy a few hours of beautiful weather before the clouds turned and it was time to turn my sights back toward Monterey, their tasting rooms and my hotel. I was privileged to stay at the Monterey Resort and Spa on Canary Row. The hotel is beautifully appointed overlooking the harbor (in fact built up over the harbor) and within just a few minutes walking from the tourist section of Canary Row.

After checking in, I walked the five minutes or so to the Taste Of Monterey tasting room. I stopped by my hotel concierge on the way out to pick up a local map and ask after any tasting room coupons. Sure enough there was one for Taste of Monterey.

The tasting room is located in a shopping center with beautiful views over the harbor. They pour from all over Monterey County so a great opportunity to taste a variety of wines when you don’t have time to drive all over the county.  Tasting fees range from $5, $10 or $20 based on which flight you choose. I went with the $20 reserve wines but with my coupon from the hotel, it was complimentary.

The staff is very attentive, friendly and approachable. Wine tasting should be fun and all the tasting rooms I visited made it so. I picked up a Cannery Row Wine Walk card and learned that if I visited the five tasting rooms in the immediate are I could win prizes! Since I love prizes and wine, it was game on!

Next I wandered downstairs to the Bargetto Winery. Also partaking of their reserve wines I thoroughly enjoyed their award winning 2009 Pinot Noir and a Merlot that would be a perfect pairing for some of the chocolate I brought back from Brussels. Since I am flying light the wineries are more than happy to ship. In addition after asking about area restaurants they provided me with some coupons for a free appetizer at a local seafood restaurant.

I made it to one last winery on Sunday (Scheid which is located directly across the street from the other tasting rooms). Here one of my colleagues joined and we enjoyed a few more wines before heading off to dinner. A thoroughly delightful Sunday.

Monday was a busy day with some early morning calls and the meeting where I was speaking, but afterwards there were about two hours before it was time to head back to the airport. A perfect two hours to fit in the last two tasting room visits!

Across from the Monterey Resort and Spa is the Baywood Cellars tasting room and down the street is the Pierce Ranch Vineyards tasting room.  Both tasting rooms offered wonderful wines and fabulous company. Since it was mid-afternoon on a Monday I was the only person in both tasting rooms but was assured that in a few hours, it would be packed. But for my visit, I was able to learn all about the wineries, the wines and the people pouring. Rather delightful!

All too soon it was time to head back to the airport and return to “real” life.  Fingers crossed that perhaps I’ll be the lucky winner of the Cannery Row Wine Walk and receive a complimentary stay in the future. Between the coast and the wineries, Monterey is a beautiful place to visit and hopefully next time, stay a while.


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