If you read my last column you know that the Santa Cruz Mountains provide a nearly perfect climate for cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Outside of Burgundy, France, there’s just one place better: the Santa Lucia Highlands. The Highlands lie near the southern end of the Monterey Bay and separate the posh coastal communities of Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach from the Salinas Valley.
Several of the best growers, including Rosella’s, Sleepy Hollow, and Garys’, focus on farming and sell most of their fruit to other winemakers. You can find these names on many excellent labels. The apostrophe at the end of Garys’ is not a typo; the vineyard is owned by Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni, hence the plural possessive. Oh boy, wine and grammar!
The roads up to the Santa Lucia Highlands are treacherous, so a half dozen of the wineries have tasting rooms in Carmel Valley Village. You can park the car and walk to all of them. Parsonage and Bernardus are two of my favorites, with excellent wines and friendly staffs. If you’re in the area, you can take a day trip to Carmel Valley and check them out. The photo above is taken in the tasting room at Joullian, on the way into the village from the coast. Joullian makes a number of tasty Chardonnay’s, including a Sleepy Hollow.
They also make an inexpensive blend called “Retro Rouge” that’s a great deal by the case. The tasting notes state that it pairs well with “fish tacos, osso bucco, or anything hot off the barby.” That works for me.
So where do we go next? Cabo San Lucas for some fish tacos, or should we explore more Santa Lucia Highlands winemakers? Join us in February to find out.