Vineyard Ventures on River Road Wine Trail: Salinas Valley, California
Spend your third day experiencing Monterey Wine Country’s true charm in the delightful, intimate tasting rooms scattered along the River Road Wine Trail. Here, local wineries specialize in limited-release vintages paired with genuine, unmatched hospitality. You’ll immediately feel right at home above the Salinas Valley while you meander in and out of tasting rooms.
Situated a short drive down scenic Highway 68, River Road is home to some of the most fertile agricultural land in the world and serves as the perfect landscape for producing some seriously delicious wines. With over 45,000 acres of vineyards, this region is vast, stretching from the Monterey Bay in the north to the border of Paso Robles in the south. The Salinas Valley boasts eight of the nine AVA’s in the county, including the famous AVA’s of Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, Chalone, Monterey and San Antonio Valley.
A “Thermal Rainbow” characterizes the Salinas Valley area’s climate. In the early morning, the entire region is cool, about 55 degrees in the summer, and largely covered by a thick marine layer caused by the influence of the deep submarine canyon in the Monterey Bay. As the sun rises, the valley starts to warm, creating striking temperature variations and strong winds that whip through the valley. Cool climate-loving Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes thrive in the north. In fact, Monterey County is the largest producer of Pinot Noir in all of California and a close runner up for Chardonnay. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and many Rhone grape types flourish in warmer southern climates.
Along the River Road Wine Trail, you will find a plethora of unique wineries and tasting rooms nestled among rolling hills, lettuce fields, and vineyards. Start at the beginning of the trail at Odonata Wines, where they specialize in quality, sustainable wines, and make your way down to Smith Family Wines for breathtaking views of the valley. For a more adventurous spin on wine tasting, visit Hahn Estates to take an adrenalin-pumping ATV tour of the vineyard; then stop by their vista-top tasting room patio to experience the expansive views of the valley floor.
Get an educational sneak peek into the wine-making process by booking a voyage with Ag Venture Tours, Vino Wine Tours or Behind the Scenes Wine Tours. These tour operators offer personalized wine tasting experiences and behind-the-scenes looks at several local vineyards — complete with wine tastings, of course!
Plan your trip to Monterey Wine Country at www.SeeMonterey.com/Wines.