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Imagine walking into a beautifully illustrated English fairy tale pop-up book; the architecture brims with whimsical colors and shapes set against a backdrop of impressive coastal cliffs; the food offers international flavors crafted with delicious local ingredients. Now add complex and concentrated wines inundated with flavors of berry fruit and citrus, perfectly ripened thanks to the extreme diurnal temperature shifts, sometimes up to 40 degrees. We know what you’re thinking: No, it’s not a fantasy land.
Though songbirds won’t help you dress, a visit to this small town with a big personality offers an endless supply of high-quality wine, thoughtfully made cuisine, and enough activities to keep you as busy as you’d like during your visit. The undeniable highlight, though, is Talbott Vineyards’ tasting room.
Fresh Air and Elevated Wines
A winemaker aims to convey a sense of place through the wines they make — terroir, climate, people, the history. It all goes into that bottle. For Talbott Vineyards’ winemaker Kamee Knutson, she’s got some stunning raw material to work with. When Knutson makes Talbott’s award-winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the vineyards nestled in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, she takes inspiration from traditional winemaking techniques found in Burgundy, France while infusing a California-cool confidence and 30 years’ worth of Talbott history.
Located two hours south of San Francisco, the vineyards produce 100 percent estate-grown fruit that makes for ripe and elegant wines. Bottles crafted from the famed Sleepy Hollow vineyard regularly garner praise and accolades from consumers and critics alike. Wine lovers can try these bottles at Talbott’s tasting room in downtown Carmel. In the modern airy space, you can taste your way through curated flights, including the Signature Flight or Legacy Flight, all while feeling the sun on your face and smelling a fresh oceanic breeze.
Once you’ve had your fill of wine (for the moment, at least) and purchased a few bottles to enjoy later — the screw cap means you can easily pop them at the beach or your hotel — head out to Carmel’s downtown for some sustenance. You’ve got a lot of exploring to do.
Carmel-by-the-Sea has endless places to eat. From grab-and-go sandwiches to take on your explorations to California-style fine dining, you’ll find a dish for everyone in your group, even the picky eater. Consider signing up for the Carmel downtown guided food tour to uncover local favorites, learn about the history of the town, and eat your fill.
If you’re feeling peckish after your tasting, head to The Pocket. Located just a few steps away from the tasting room, this laid-back eatery offers fresh veggies, seafood, and locally-sourced mains. It also takes advantage of the local wine scene and features an extensive wine list, including some Talbott bottles. The vibes are warm, welcoming, and delicious.
Though many of the restaurants here offer Mediterranean cuisines like handmade Italian-style pasta and Greek tapas, no doubt inspired by the seaside bluffs and balmy weather, there’s a diverse palate in Carmel, and you’re just as likely to find Korean and Thai-infused dishes. As a melting pot of creatives, Carmel’s dining scene is as cosmopolitan as its inhabitants.
Another culinary pillar in Carmel is an emphasis on fresh ingredients. Many eateries emphasize locality within their dishes, often sourcing meats, fruits, and vegetables from neighboring farms. The town’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean means high-quality seafood is just a fish market away.
The same principle applies to the wine lists, too, which take advantage of California’s diverse vineyards. Talbott wines, of course, make an appearance on quite a few menus around town. Be sure to check out Mission Bistro, The Cheese Shop (some of their cheeses are featured in the tasting room’s wine and cheese flight, and Seventh & Dolores. At each of these spots, you can enjoy incredible food alongside award-winning Talbott wines.
Fill Your Days after You’ve Filled Your Glass
Activities in Carmel-by-the-Sea can be as chill or as immersive as you choose. Since the town is only one square mile long, it makes the perfect weekend getaway. And even then, you won’t see — or eat — it all.
Carmel Beach is known for its pristine white sand and is also believed to have been the inspiration for the novel “Treasure Island”. Bonus, it’s a short walk from the Talbott tasting room, so you can soak in the sights after your wine flight. And don’t worry about pirates when you visit. Just bring some sunblock and sandwiches. With a scenic walking path overlooking the bluffs, you might just be inspired to write a novel yourself.
Wander through over one hundred art galleries spread throughout Carmel. For decades, creatives have sought refuge in this seaside town. The artist community of Carmel includes fine artists, writers, musicians, actors, and chefs. No matter what medium you’re drawn to, you’re almost certain to find it in Carmel.
Pebble Beach Resort owns the famous 17-Mile Drive, a leisurely way to see the sights. There are seventeen scenic stops along the drive including the Lone Cypress, the Ghost Trees, and the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center. For a full-fledged California experience, consider renting a convertible for the day.
The fairytale cottages are synonymous with Carmel. Hugh Comstock built the first of these distinctive cottages in 1925 to be used as a studio for his wife’s successful doll-making business. The growing artist community loved the little cottages so much, Comstock went on to design over thirty more throughout Carmel. Take a self-guided tour of the 21 still-standing cottages — many of them have been turned into shops and restaurants.
Where To Lay Your Head
Enjoy one of those bottles you picked up at Talbott’s tasting room in a nearby bed-and-breakfast or hotel. To live like a local, at least for a few days, rent an Airbnb in one of the unique surrounding neighborhoods.
Carmel Village’s main business district is made up of just five very stroll-worthy blocks — but there’s so much to explore. Unique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and architecture will immerse you in the artistic roots of the community. While only one square mile, there’s a surprise around every corner.
Love golf or classic cars? Try Pebble Beach, located between Carmel and Pacific Grove, with stunning views of Monterey Bay. Set on a cliff overlooking rugged beaches as far as the eye can see, Pebble Beach is known for California-style luxury. World-class golfing, classic cars, and spectacular resorts are all here, and just a ten-mile drive from the Talbott tasting room.
If you’d prefer to immerse yourself in nature, at least for a night or two, pack up your score from the Talbott tasting room, a tent, and bug spray, and embark on a breathtaking 40-minute drive down the coast to Big Sur for the night. Camp out under the stars — the wine pairs perfectly with a salty breeze.
The area known as Carmel Highlands is just a short drive south on Highway 1. After immersing yourself in the history of Talbott Vineyards through one of their guided flights, keep the study session going by staying in this neighborhood with a rich past. Known best as a haven for famous celebrities, this is a beautiful area to sip some Pinot Noir to the sounds of the ocean and daydream about your red carpet debut.
Sip the Best of Carmel-By-The-Sea Like a Local
Fun fact: What do high heels and a visit to Carmel have in common? Wearing heels over two inches tall is actually illegal in this quirky little town. Because of the uneven sidewalks, the town enacted an ordinance in 1963 to avoid liability lawsuits.
So pack your sandals and make your reservation to visit Talbott Vineyards’ tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., you’ll be guided through your choice of wine flight by a welcoming and knowledgeable Talbott team member. At Talbott’s, you won’t feel rushed through your experience as you learn about what goes into that delicious glass of wine you are holding.
Whether you come to Talbott Vineyards at the beginning, middle, or end of your visit to this unique artist haven, it will definitely be a highlight of your trip to Carmel. When you sip the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays you ship or bring home after your visit, you’ll be instantly transported back to that relaxed airy tasting room by the ocean. Can you smell the salt air yet? Book your visit to Talbott Vineyards’ tasting room now!
This article is sponsored by Talbott Vineyards.
The article Talbott Vineyards’ Tasting Room is a Staple in Carmel-by-the-Sea appeared first on VinePair.