A California 1 Wine Adventure

California highway 1 green sign on the streetSummertime is a great time to take a drive on Highway 1 — the scenic, occasionally harrowing road that hugs California’s Pacific Coast.

Harrowing, in part, because of the hairpin turns and narrow lanes, but even more so because many first-time visitors are trying to drive and soak in the scenery at the same time. But if you can manage to dodge them, you can have a fabulous day of sightseeing, wine tasting and casual dining.

I suggest staying in Monterey, and waking up to breakfast at Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle. If you’re adventurous, or feel like solidifying your seaside cred, try the Squiddle & Eggs (tender calamari steak, lightly breaded and grilled to a crispy brown, served with eggs as you like them). If you have a sweet tooth, there’s only one choice: the chocolate chip “hubcap” griddle cakes (served with butter and syrup).

The nearby (everything is nearby in this quaint town) Monterey Bay Aquarium continues to be a world-class attraction 31 years after it opened. And unlike many aquariums, it requires only a few hours to experience everything it has to offer.

Next, head south toward Carmel, then cut inland (east) on Carmel Valley Road. Your destination: Cowgirl Winery, where an authentic “western” experience awaits. The tasting room is housed in an old redwood barn, and nine chickens roam the grounds.

For a totally different vibe, head to nearby Joyce Vineyards, where visitors encounter a 1,700-square-foot industrial urban and contemporary tasting room. Wine can be sampled at a spacious bar or in one of several lounge areas.

You can then head back toward the ocean, check out the shops of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and then unwind with a casual dinner at Monterey’s Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar. There, you can choose between enticing entrees or small bites, accompanied by a glass of wine from a well curated list. The menu changes daily, but if the Gazpachuelo (clams, white‏ beans and local petrale sole) is available… go for it.

So if you’re looking to escape the heat, plan a day, a weekend or a week in California’s Monterey and Carmel area. Trust me, you won’t run out of fun wineries or fine restaurants to visit.

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Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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