Santa Lucia Highlands is a small, but very mighty wine producing region outside Monterey, and a must stop for us while we were in the region. To guide us through our journey of wine country, we selected Monterey Guided Wine Tours, and there are not enough good things to say about them.
The car was comfortable, spacious and clean, which is remarkably important when you’re driving between wineries and tasting multiple wines (no car sickness among this group!). We received welcome mimosas upon departure, and food throughout, including the most photographable and delicious charcuterie plate. All perfectly executed by our guide, Chris, whose knowledge of the region and relationships with the wineries made for a truly wonderful day.
(What I wouldn’t give to have someone put this together for me on a lazy Saturday at home! Hint, hint huns!)
As a full-hearted wine lover, I have been very lucky to explore wineries throughout the U.S. and Europe. As far as California wine regions go, Monterey is at the top of my list. It’s hard to resist the glamorous chateaus and estates of Napa and Sonoma, but Monterey harkens back to the earlier days of California wine production, where the focus was less on appearance and more on producing exceptional wines. If you’ve seen the movie Bottle Shock, you’ll know what I’m talking about. (If you haven’t and you like wine, it’s definitely worth a watch.)
We started at Odonata Wines, a small, family-owned winery that specializes in organic production.
We tasted whites, then reds, focusing especially on Santa Lucia Highland’s specialties – chardonnay and pinot noir.
And naturally finding our favorites. I was particular to the Petit Sirah, but others enjoyed the hint of olive in the Syrah or the slightly peppery spice of the Grenache. After all, isn’t that the beauty of wine tasting? To swirl, smell, and savor your way to the wines that best fit your palette and personality.
After our tasting, we got a short tour of the facility, getting to see some of the wine making in process.
Drinking and learning at the same time. What an education!
Next up, we strolled into Pessagno Winery.
Home to great grapes,
And Puma, the cat.
Who was presumably tuckered out from a long morning tending to the fields.
All highlighted by a hint of fall flair, and beautiful surroundings.
Our final spot was Puma Road Winery.
A sister winery to Pessagno, if the matching pumpkins weren’t a giveaway.
We grabbed four seats with a view, watching the incredibly hard-working folks behind the scenes press the juice from the grapes.
And settling into one of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve had the honor to taste.
We ended our day with loads of smiles, cheeks sore from laughing, and memories to last a lifetime.
A truly wonderful day spent in Salinas Valley!