This quaint European-style village along the Central Coast has long been known for its art galleries and white-sand beach, but it’s also got a nice collection of tasting rooms, all within easy walking distance and serving the region’s excellent labels. Before you stroll, stop by the Carmel Visitor Center and pick up a Wine Walk Passport, which grants you tastings at any ten of thirteen different tasting rooms at a good savings; while you’re at the visitors center, pick up a free map of the city featuring area restaurants and inns.
Start the day with bubbles at Caraccioli Cellars on Dolores Street. Relax at the Spanish-style bar in the chic and contemporary tasting room and sample a well-made sparkling wine from the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation (don’t miss the Brut Rosé). Next, stroll over to Figge Cellars, housed in the Winfield gallery. Winemaker Peter Figge does the pouring here, and will share his insights on his vineyard-designated, cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Finish your tour at De Tierra Vineyards on Mission Street. The tasting room is comfortable and friendly, with a wall-size chalkboard behind the bar announcing the day’s pours. The Russell Estate Chardonnay and Mesa Del Sol Syrah are especially good.
If you’d like to pick up a bottle and learn about the winemaker’s craft, there’s at least one shop that can accommodate. Every Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Trio Carmel on Dolores Street holds “Meet the Winemaker” events, where you can savor a visiting vintner’s wines and learn about his or her production process as well.