One of the best wine-growing regions in California, it's easy to explore many different wineries in Carmel Valley because most of the best local vineyards have tasting rooms within walking distance along the main downtown road. The experience is usually more relaxed and affordable than in Napa and Sonoma. The region is well-known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which make up 70% of the region's wine, but you'll be able to try many varietals across each winery. Some of our favorite tasting rooms include Bernardus Winery, Joyce Wine Company, and Cowgirl Winery.
While the charming coastal city of Carmel-by-the-Sea gets most of the touristic attention, its rural-chic cousin, Carmel Valley, is more than worthy of a visit. Tucked in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, Carmel Valley is home to large working ranches and estates, luxurious hotels and spas, sprawling land reserves full of hiking trails, dozens of wineries and tasting rooms, and an eclectic dining scene.
Overall, the region offers travelers a place to experience understated, earthy luxury — the kind that is unstuffy yet helps you completely relax and recharge. We've rounded up the best ways to explore Carmel Valley, whether you're looking to sip wine all day, get out in nature, or just rest by the pool. And don't miss our guides to the best places to stay and the best restaurants in Carmel.
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