Category Archives: Wine Tours

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel by the Sea, or simply Carmel, is California’s perennial favorite  travel destination. Formerly an artist’s colony –there seems to be more art galleries than people, tiny Carmel, population 4000, has worked hard to keep their village lifestyle.

The one-square-mile village of Carmel has no big-box stores nor chain restaurants. Don’t worry about paying to park your car – there are no parking meters and no street lights – great for star-gazing.

Monterey Cypress at Carmel Beach
Monterey Cypress at Carmel Beach photo credit: John Cameron

Carmel’s city founders favored a central post office instead of door- to-door delivery thus no addresses. Carmel street signs, carved vertically on short wooden poles, are easy to miss.

Court of the Fountains
Court of the Fountains photo credit: John Cameron

The ubiquitous Dutch doors, favored by almost all business owners, really enhance the friendly small-town feel.

Famous citizens include 93- year-old Doris Day, part owner of the dog- friendly Cypress Inn, whose movie posters adorn Terry’s Bar – an homage to her son. Another famous resident and former mayor of Carmel (1986-1988) Dirty Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) made it safe to once again eat ice cream on Carmel’s public streets.

Rated the #1 dog-friendly town in America, you can bring your pets to restaurants, bars, the beach, even wine-tasting rooms.

Where to Stay

Hofsas House Carmel by the Sea
Hofsas House Carmel photo credit: John Cameron

Family-owned and run for three generations, the pet-friendly Hofsas House Hotel is very popular with travel-savvy Europeans. Get practical daily trip advice from the helpful concierge with a large continental breakfast featuring pastries from a local bakery.

Hofsas House Mural by Maxine Albro
Hofsas House Mural photo credit: John Cameron

The first thing guests might notice is the Bavarian themed mural opposite the Hofsas House welcome office. Donna Hofsas commissioned artist Maxine Albro to paint the mural in 1957.

Hofsas House Guest Room
Hofsas House Guest Room photo credit: John Cameron

The Hofsas House has 38 well-designed and comfortable guest rooms with Dutch doors in every room and featuring amenities like a fireplace.

Hofsas House balcony
Hofsas House balcony photo credit: Sherel Purcell

A small heated pool and a dry sauna that’s always warm and a communal rooftop deck for good views over Pebble Beach are special touches found at Hofsas House.

Hofsas House has the only poolside meeting facility in Carmel with classroom seating for up to 24.

The Hofsas House has partnerships with four different golf courses in the area. If you don’t want to pay the big bucks to golf Pebble Beach or Spanish Bay, the back nine at Pacific Grove Golf Links  has great water views. As the starter in the pro shop said,” It’s the same ocean for 300 bucks less. “

Things to do

Taste the wines of the Monterey and Carmel Valley all within walking distance of downtown.

Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room
Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Schied Vineyards at San Carlos & 7th Avenue in Carmel offers complimentary small bites to pair with featured wines and new releases on the second Tuesday of every month.

Just down Ocean Avenue at the Carmel Road Tasting Room, sample their flight of Pinot Noirs.

Carmel Road Tasting Room
Carmel Road Tasting Room photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Actor Drew Barrymore works with winemaker Kris Kato to produce a great rose for her signature collection, Barrymore Wines. Both Scheid and Carmel Road offer wine clubs – get a taste of Carmel sent right to your doorstep.

Wine Enthusiast named Carmel one of the top ten wine tasting destinations in the world.

Carmel is the perfect base for exploring the beautiful California coast. Steinbeck’s Cannery Row in historic Monterey is 30 minutes to the north while Point Lobos is just 15 minutes to the south. Big Sur is an hour’s drive south on scenic US 1 .

Lone Cypress photo credit: John Cameron
Lone Cypress photo credit: John Cameron

Take scenic 17-mile drive for a great introduction to the relentless beauty of the northern California coast. Tip: take your receipt for the ten-dollar entrance fee with you and have it credited to your lunch at The Bench at the Pebble Beach Lodge, overlooking beautiful Pebble Beach’s iconic 18th green.

Bianchi Winery, Paso Robles, California

No newcomer to the party, Glenn Bianchi and his father Joseph ’s love affair with wine began with a vineyard and winery in the Central Valley of California in 1974. Their desire to create a boutique winery with an emphasis on premium varietals led them to Paso Robles. Impressed with Paso Robles natural beauty and reputation for wines with finesse and complexity, they purchased 40 acres of vineyards on Branch Road in January of 2000.

Bianchi Winery Paso Robles
Bianchi Winery Paso Robles

The Paso Robles terroir is best suited to red varietals. The winery’s sloping vineyards feature Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah and Merlot vines. These varietals make up their  Heritage Selection. The Italian red varietal Refosco is only available at the Winery Tasting Room.

Bianchi also has produced a great line of four whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Moscato. All are made with grapes sourced from cool marine-influenced Santa Barbara and Monterey County vineyards. Their crisp Chardonnay follows the current trend, moving away from the buttery notes by splitting fermentation between stainless steel tanks and oak barrels.

Bianchi Winery Tasting Room
Bianchi Winery Tasting Room

Bianchi is a member of the Wineries of Paso Robles 46 East. Their Wine Club offers members 30% off any purchases on the day of sign up. With the purchase of a case of wine,  Club Members can earn a complimentary one night stay at the adjacent Vineyard House.

The Vineyard House at Bianchi Winery

Bianchi Vineyard House
Bianchi Vineyard House

The perfect spot for a wine country getaway, the Vineyard House is a 3 bedroom/2 bath house which can sleep up to three couples. The large house features a wood-burning fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, a wine fridge, outdoor BBQ and ensuite laundry.

Bianchi Vineyard House front patio
Bianchi Vineyard House front patio

Guests can sit on the peaceful front patio overlooking the waterfall fed pond or the large back patio, enjoying the sun setting over the vineyard with a glass of wine. City dwellers beware – the silence of the peaceful countryside is deafening.