Wine Blog: Visiting Carmel Valley AVA (Central Coast California)

Country: United States

State: California

County: Monterey

Region: Carmel Valley AVA


Grape varieties and AVAs

The Central Coast of California has the maritime influence from the Pacific Ocean. Cold winds blowing from the Pacific create blankets of fog to cool the coastal area. The cooling effect is good for delicate varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnays.

However at the warmer areas of the Central Coast such as Southern Monterey (San Lucas AVA and Hames Valley AVA), and South Central Coast (Paso Robles AVA, Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley ), Zinfandel, *Bordeaux varieties and *Rhône varieties can be found.


*Bordeaux Varieties : Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot.

*Rhone Varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Viognier


From SFO: 2 hours drive.

Carmel-by-the-sea is a nice little seaside town located at Monterey County, the Central Coast of California. It has cool climate influence by the Pacific Ocean. We drove from SFO airport to Carmel for approximately 2 hours along highway 101 S. Not a bad drive really as we drove pass some nice country side and all sorts of farms from garlic, artichoke to berries.

For wine tasting, we went to Carmel Valley AVA which is a wine region located slightly inland and located at elevation above 1,000 feet, so it’s less influenced by the Ocean Fog comparing to some parts of Monterey AVA.

We stopped by the local Carmel Village Farmers’ Market on the way to wine tasting, since it’s Sunday!

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Farmer’s Market

There’s a little museum next to the farmers’ market.

1. Bernardus Vineyards & Winery @ Carmel Valley

Bernardus Vineyards & Winery @ Carmel ValleyThe founder of Bernardus was cultivating Pinot Noir organically and biodynamically in Oregon for 13 years before establishing Bernardus Vineyard in Carmel Valley. His dream is to create a Carmel Valley red wine equal to the finest from Bordeaux.


2 single vineyards of Bernardus:

Ingrid’s Vineyard: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Marinus Vineyard: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot.



Thank You Fire Fighters of Carmel
“Thank You Fire Fighters” Signs can be seen along the road. Handmade, big and small, at least 100 of them along carmel valley road. These are from Carmel residence to show their appreciation to the local firefighters who was fighting Big Sur’s Soberanes Fire in the recent months.

2. Boekenoogen Vineyards & Winery

Boekenoogen is a family owned winery with grapes planted at Santa Lucia Highlands and upper Carmel Valley. Their vineyards are now certified with Sustainability in Practice (SIP) and are committed to both natural and human resources in order to produce quality wine in the long term.

Santa Lucia Highlands : Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Carmel Valley: Zinfandel, Syrah, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon



Cool morning fog from Monterey Bay to Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards

3. Jarman, Carmel Valley

Jarman produces old world style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Light and elegant. Their winery is partnered with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and committed a portion of inventory and a percentage of sales towards finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Lovely outdoor tasting area @ Jarman, Carmel Valley
Good quality tasting glass makes a difference @Jarman Wine


My favorite of the Day! Jarman Estate Grown Chardonnay!

Just enough touch of the new french oak and not over powering the grapes itself. Comparable to old world Chardonnay.

Bought a bottle home. $49USD.


Wine Tasting Fees

Carmel Valley is a small region with some good wineries and tasting rooms. Wine tasting aren’t free. Tasting flight from $12 to $20-30. For a wine enthusiasts like us, it’s always a pleasure to explore small unique wine region like this.

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I love this little small town. The wine production volume is not big and hence it’s not easy to access to a bottle outside of US. However I do find that Carmel wine is quite different than the typical Californian Napa which is big and bold. Wine in Carmel seems more elegant and more leaning towards the old world palate.


What do you think of Carmel wine? Comments below and let me know. I like to hear from you.

Also check out my other post of my Carmel trip:

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