World renown for its superior Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,
Monterey County is home to Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The coastal village is laced with quaint paths that lead to dining, sea vistas, and wineries.
As I walked to the Sunset Center, the slight crunch of the pathway gravel greeted my ears
and I was eager to try other varietals from the region.
At the Annual 'Monterey County Wine Trade Tasting,' hundreds of Monterey County wines
were poured...all with a passion to share the wines of the region.
Highlights of my tasting afternoon...
2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Griva Vineyard. White peach gives way to tall-grassy notes, with hints of ocean saline. I am always drawn to a winery that produces Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite wines. It is versatile, fresh, and pairs with the California Coastal food lifestyle. 'KORi' Wines is the partnership between Santa Lucia Highlands grape/citrus grower Kirk Williams & his step-daughter Kori Violini. (from their site.)
2016 Brix Pinot Gris Estate Grown, Camel Valley. The floral notes, and ever-so-slight sweetness would cover a gathering of palates. Light on minerals, it gives a hint of dairy and graham then meets up with tropical flavors.
With 4 Styles of Sangiovese, Emily Hunt is a winemaker to take note of. She's new to the Monterey wine scene and is gifted with creativity in spades. All of her pours were a blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Petite Sirah. What's so special about that? Well, she offered a Rose' and three different styles of red wine—all made from the same blend of grapes.
All of the fruit arrived to Emily at once. But she used different production methods and timing to achieved wines with completely different flavor profiles. That's a gutsy undertaking! Some wines were on the skins for 4 hours, others for 6. Some soaked with the stems. One was aged more, another less. Emily's wine mentor and the fruit hail from the Napa area. But her wine is Monterey style through and through.
Hahn Family Wines
2017 Pinot Gris, Monterey County. Soft green melon and fresh floral notes round out this slightly sweeter yet pleasing wine. This white wine is food-friendly without any heavy dairy on the palate.
Winemaker, Bill Brosseau, shares his craft. Testarossa offers wine tasting in their Camel Valley and Los Gatos locations. My light write up offers a peek at the Los Gatos tasting room...'Testarossa, Wine for Collectors & Beginners.'
Windy Oaks Estate
2015 Grenache, Santa Lucia Highlands. This coastal grown 100% Grenache offers a pleasing light to mid-weight mouth-feel. A bit of acidity offers a base for foods, but the wine fitting on its own. Fruit forward, but not jammy.
This family winery is located up Hazel Dell Road, in the Corralitos area. The vineyards cover almost 30 acres. You'll find their tasting rooms in Carmel-by-the Sea and the Carmel Village.
Pierce Ranch Vineyards
2017 Verdelho, San Antonio Valley. Embrace currents of honeysuckle and soft citrus in this white wine. Josh Pierce offers wines that are like a treasure chest. Each one is subtle, then opens up to an arc of flavors and character. Hands down, when I serve Pierce Ranch wines to my guests at home, they always garner a comment of praise!
Other wineries to check out...(pictured above)
Joyce Vineyards, Scratch Wines (staff,) Josh Pierce of Pierce Ranch Vineyards, and
Miguel Lepe of Lepe Cellars. Also, pouring, Rexford Winery.
Thank you, Monterey County Wines, for the Trade Tasting invitation.
For more on the following wineries, and dozens of additional tasting rooms, visit MCVG's site (Link.)
Big Sur Vineyards
2015 BSV Red Wine, Monterey County. Lenora Carey journeyed from being a documentary filmmaker to the owner of Big Sur Vineyards. With Ryan Kobza as winemaker, the first vintage was released in 2013. The Arroy Seco growing region provides the precise weather for BSV's olive trees, essential oils gardens, and vineyards.
Who Attended & Why?
Instead of buying dozens of bottles of wine to try, the restaurant industry
sampled and selected wines in one location to pair with their menu and and customers' desires.
Grocery and market buyers seek out wines to stock and sell in their stores.
Wine publicists and writers come to get a taste of what's current in Monterey.
People are looking for crowd-pleaser wines. And for wines that exemplify a region.
They also seek out the hidden gems. The unexpected wines that someone special will be looking for.
So here's to your everyday wines and
the hidden gems for your special occasions.
Coming up, the Monterey Winemaker's Celebration is a day of wine tasting for new wine fans
and the devoted. For your tickets and more, visit my Wine News post...
Cheese, wine, and chocolate are a friendly trio.
With so many delicious wine and food options,
keeping it simple over the Christmas and holiday season is ideal.
Cheese and wine make for a great starter, or dessert course.
Chocolate and wine, especially red wines, are best friends.
Aged, hard cheeses can be served along side wine and chocolate.
Cheese & Wine Pairing tips for the holidays
...and for 2019!
Brie & Bubbles.
Serve Brie with dry Champagne/sparkling wine. The yeast of the Champagne elevates the
musty-ness of the Brie. Expand the flavors with dried Slab apricots.
Try a Santa Cruz Mountain Champagne style wine...Equinox Wines (link)
locally crafts some of the best sparkling wines!
Pinot Noir & Bleu d’Auvergne.
Sharp and creamy, blue cheese is notoriously good sprinkled over grilled steak.
The tangy cheese pairs classically with a dried cranberry, walnut, spinach and bacon salad.
A Pinot Noir with a bit more body elevates these foods.
Go for a flavor explosion and add dates, honey, and dark chocolate.
Try Morgan Winery's Pinot Noirs (link.)
Chardonnay & Comte'.
One of my new favorite cheeses, Comte'
is produced in large wheels, up to 85-100 pounds.
Enjoy hints of stone fruit, toasted nuts, and cream.
Wrights Station Vineyard and Winery offers 3 local Chardonnays to choose from (link.)
Enjoy a Late Harvest Zinfandel (dessert wine) or Port with dark chocolate.
Try Storrs Winery's Late Harvest Zin (link.)
Or tuck into a glass of Merlot with chocolate cake.
Go for a cool weather Monterey County or Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot.
Bargetto Winery's 2016 Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains, would be spot on with the cocoa flavors (link.)
Cheeses of Europe
hosted a cheese and wine pairing at the WBC.
Recently my lactose intolerant friend was in Portugal.
Being the gracious guest she is, she ate the local cheese and was fine!
But once back at home, she had difficulty with chain grocery store cheese.
I find that “cleaner” foods (natural, un-mucked foods) work better for our bodies.
Cheeses of Europe served cheeses that were from specific regions,
aged with natural methods, and made with natural, whole ingredients.
Qualities that make for an excellent product.
For recipes and cheese tips, visit Cheeses of Europe.
So find a local cheese producer or look for European cheeses made with all natural ingredients.
You may have success with that...and get back together with cheese!
Pair with Bay Area wines and celebrate the season.
Cheers to your Christmas season and to the love of cheese, wine, and chocolate!
For more flavor profiles, visit my Nose & Palate page and taste away!
The Wine Blending Seminar at Scheid Winery was a chance to explore
different combinations of wines & flavors.
If only school were this enjoyable!
I had the chance to mix and pour wines at the
Blending Seminar at Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room in Carmel.
The evening was a chance for guests to try their hand at
creating their own signature blend of wine.
To top it off, the feature was published on Edible Monterey Bay Online (link to story.)
"Guests introduced themselves. Then they started tasting each varietal. Next came the combining, and spilling, of wines. Then more tasting, as table-mates shared their concoctions with each other and chose a favorite wine. An eye catching name was a must!"
"Names flew across the tables as tasters tried to summarize their wines.
Alliances quickly formed as judging began. Shouts and enthusiasm grew as the wine took
hold of tasters and people cheered for their favorite wine."
A special thanks to Scheid Vineyards (Link) and Monterey County Wines (Link.)
It was a wonderful collaboration!
A toast to your wine journey--spills, new acquaintances, and all!
For the full feature, visit my story on EMB.
No apologies, and no excuses. That's what I think is characteristic, and comes to my mind, of Joyce Vineyards. Russell Joyce is winemaker of Joyce Vineyards in Carmel Valley. He approaches his winemaking with intention and his own unique style.
Russell prefers his grapes to be pick earlier in the season than many of his peers do. Wines from 2016, and on, are barrel aged in neutral oak. No new oak is used. These factors keep the wine more delicate and fresh in flavor, and lower in alcohol (typically 14% or less.) The wines offer a lighter mouth feel, and don't tend to be heavy or full bodied.
I can picture Joyce wines pairing well with Coastal warm-weather foods, such as fresh crab and sourdough bread, lemon marinated chicken, grilled lamb chops, or grilled veggie kabobs.
Rafael Perez, manager, shared about Joyce Vineyards' beginnings:
Russell Joyce, and father Frank Joyce, spearhead the brand and the wines. Joyce Vineyards was established in 1988. The back of the Joyce family property was sloped, so they decided to plant grape vines to retain the land. The vines matured, grapes grew, and the family started making wine in their garage as a hobby. Russell grew up with family friends in the wine industry. There would be races to see who could pick the fastest during local harvests. Russell took over production in 2012, and the family still takes care of the original small family vineyard.
Carmel Valley is a destination spot, Rafael reminded me, with an abundance of wineries and tasting rooms. With so many options in one place, it helps promote the local wine business and brings in guests instead of taking away business. “Carmel is a small community and we all know each other. There's an open friendship with others in the wine community.” He also shared that it's not a secret—how to make wine. I can see how a cohesive outlook makes a place to exchange ideas and learn from each other.
For the tastings:
This has the fresh, clean hints of a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc, on the nose.
It's fun and offers some tart Jolly Rancher green apple in the back of the cheeks.
My favorite part of the Joyce branding is their logo. It reminds me of the classic 1960s Cadillac insignia. The wine bottles, décor in the tasting room and production site all bring guests back to the Joyce line, in an appealing way. The labeling on the bottle is straight forward, and the varietal and region are easy to read. This is appealing to tasters, especially those new to wine and wondering what they're trying.
*The Carmel Valley tasting room has a great vibe to it, with music,
outdoor seating, and a Members Patio.
*There's even a large casual-chic dining room with seating to host
an intimate event, or celebration.
*Feel free to bring your four-pawed friend. The patio is dog friendly.
The staff cheerfully went out of their way to supply water for a thirsty canine guest.
*The wine production takes place in their Salinas warehouse.
There's room for winemaker gatherings, forklifts, and memorabilia.
*You can find Joyce wines at the Carmel tasting room, restaurants, and beverage shops.
They distribute in the Bay Area, Fresno, and Los Angeles.
Standing in the tasting room, guests can easily see their options in the Joyce line of wines.
Enjoy a taste of the region with wines made with grapes from: the Santa Lucia Highlands,
Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, and Monterey County.
The Joyce team works with local winegrowers to personalize their fruit.
They can tell the growers what they want: from when the fruit is harvested,
what kind of yields they're looking for, to the flavor profile they're desiring.
After your tastings at Joyce Vineyards, feel free to meander in the cozy town of Carmel Village.
Wine fans can enjoy a visit at Joyce for a quick pop in, for an afternoon, or
turn it into a vacation including dining and lodge nearby.
Here's to trying new wines in Carmel, and your own wine jaunt in the Village!
For more wineries in the area, visit my Monterey County Wineries page. Cheers!
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