4 Tasting Rooms In Carmel That Feel As Good As Their Wines Taste
Where does one even begin when it comes to wine tasting in Carmel? There are myriad tasting rooms in downtown Carmel but their stories are what makes them unique. Not to mention the wine, of course. (Bonus: most of them are dog-friendly, inside and out. Someone’s gotta walk you home after a day of tasting, right?)
After much LENGTHY (and fun!) research, we narrowed our favorites to four tasting rooms. But there’s a lot more to explore, too. We would love to hear about your wine tasting experiences in Carmel; feel free to write in and tell us about it!
Dawn's Dream Winery
In downtown Carmel, when walking up 7th Ave or San Carlos Ave, you can be sure your eyes will be drawn to an usual bathtub logo on a hanging sign. Someone obviously figured out that bath time plus wine makes a perfect pairing—and it also doubles as fantastic marketing.
In addition to actual bathtubs as part of the decor, there’s MUCH more to the wine tasting here than meets the eye. The business model is built around fundraising and giving back to communities. Dawns Dream is highly committed to donating everything from wines, funds and time to support nonprofit organizations both locally and globally. Owner Dawn Galante’s passion for helping and supporting causes that champion women and children matches her passion for well-made wine.
Nugget Chardonnay was our favorite sip out of the line up—think tropical notes meet fresh (but not sweet) peaches meet just a touch of citrus. So refreshing on a warm day!
If I could define the feel of Caraccioli Cellars in a word, it would be “sultry.” The interior is bathed in rich, natural tones and there are layers of wood, concrete and stone, which makes the space grounding and cozy. And what goes better with an intimate and sexy setting than bubbles? Naturally, the first wine we tried was the Brut Cuvée, a wonderfully effervescent and crisp blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir—a blend that allows the winery to create a wonderfully consistent Cuvée year after year.
If you’re looking for an impressive gift (or a treat for yourself), you may consider purchasing the Rose of Pinot Noir Magnum bottle (twice the size and fun as a standard wine bottle). Not only is it as delicious as a Rose can be, but it’s also so pretty in pink.
BH Insider Tip: If you’re traveling and tasting with a large group (over 8 people), definitely call to make a reservation.
Albatross Ridge Tasting Room
Some tasting rooms, like their wines, are one-note, flat, boring. The Albatross Ridge Tasting Room is the exact opposite. The space is designed to feel both rustic and modern, with light-colored stone walls and bar top, sleek metal railings and designer lighting accents, which perfectly mirrors their refined yet complex wines.
Albatross Ridge makes just a handful of wines, with an exclusive focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. If you are a wine-by-the-numbers type of consumer their Albatross Ridge 2014 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir Pinot scored a 95 by Wine Enthusiast, and their 2014 Estate Chardonnay came in at a cool 94 points. They also produce small amounts of Rosé and Pétillant Naturel Pinot Noir Rosé, made from estate-grown Pinot Noir, and usually only found in the tasting room or at the winery.
Wrath Wines (Carmel Tasting Room)
If you read our earlier blog “Love Cheese?” and plan on visiting The Cheese Shop, then you must pop by Wrath Wines Tasting Room, which is located next door, in the Carmel Plaza. Unwrap your cheese curds, cut up some salami and enjoy flavorful wines with your own snack plate. Yes, they very much encouraged us to bring outside eats in!
In the tasting room, we were happily introduced to EX Sauvignon Blanc, accurately described as bright and vibrant, this wine paired excellently with our cheese curds.
If you prefer to venture out of Carmel, be sure to stop by Wrath Wine’s Vineyard Tasting Room, offering delightful views of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Salinas Valley from the sunny terrace. And while the name “Wrath” may suggest that you’re headed somewhere sinister or will be tasting some angry wine, trust me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.