Holman Ranch is an ideal location in the hills above Carmel Valley perfect for special events and weddings. The grounds feature a stone hacienda, sweeping views, and an olive grove. While their estate vineyard produces amazing Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.
Travel 12-miles inland from the Pacific Coast, and in the hills above Carmel Valley, and you’ll find the lovely Carmel Valley Village. This quaint town features several wine tasting rooms, art galleries, and yummy restaurants.
We were lucky enough to be brought to this area as part of a media visit, to tour the amazing Holman Ranch, a private estate and vineyard that sprawls across 400-acres. We first stopped by the Holman Ranch tasting room to grab our keys. Of course, while we were there, we definitely had to partake in some wine tasting! Duncan led us through and extensive tasting of Holman’s wine portfolio, including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Their best seller is their .5° Brix, an off-dry Pinot Gris that would be a perfect match for a spicy dish or lighter fare.
After our tasting, we made our way up into the hills to the property. It was one of the most serene locations I have ever been to.
Hahn Estate Winery in Soledad, California is a family-owned vineyard specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
On the second day of our trip to Carmel, California it absolutely poured on us! We were a bit bummed because we were scheduled for an ATV tour at Hahn Estate. Renee, the Director of Estate Operations for Hahn, and Andy, Director of Viticulture, greeted us at the tasting room and said that although we’d be skipping the ATV part of the tour, there was still plenty to see. Boy was there – This was the single most informative winery visit I have ever had!
Before heading out for our visit, Andy told us a bit about the vineyard. It was purchased in 1979 and is family-owned. Hahn produces 400k cases of wine across their 5 lines – Hahn, Hahn SLH, Lucienne, Smith & Hook, and Winery Selections. There are 20 clones of Pinot Noir growing on the property – All of which go into their Orchestra Block Pinot Noir, which is in its second year of production.
Andy explained that the winds in the area help to build up the skins of the grapes, while the plants around the vines affect the flavoring. For instance, those vines planted near an almond tree tend to have an amaretto flavor – Something I particularly enjoy in my Chardonnay.
Hahn has been certified sustainable since 2008 and uses falcons to patrol the vineyards in the fall, protecting it from critters. The sweeping grounds are truly a sight to be seen (even on this gloomy day).
After a bit of inside information we headed to the barrel room, where the Chardonnay is housed. Renee really gave us a lesson by allowing us to taste the differences in the barrels of wine that are strictly produced by hand vs. those that use machinery to process the grapes.
Even though the grapes are identical, the taste is exceptionally unique. Of course I preferred the taste found in the more expensive way of doing things, all by hand. While that Chardonnay was a bit more smooth, and feminine, the barrel which was produced with the aid of machinery had a bit more of a petrol note and didn’t seem quite as well-rounded.
In French, Vendange means “the grape harvest” – Which makes the Vendange Carmel the perfect place for us to stay on our recent journey to Carmel, California.
I haven’t spent much time in California. Really, I just went to San Francisco once, when I was really young, say 10 or so. And, I made it to San Diego very briefly in college, as my friends and I headed to Las Vegas for Spring Break (what happens in Vegas…)
But, I’ve always wanted to go explore more – Napa, Sonoma, Monterey Bay. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I was SO ready to hop on that plane. I had no idea what was in store for us. I went into this trip doing not much research, just being ready for some sunshine and warm weather after a long Oregon rainy season. And wine, I heard there was wine…
When we got there, it was so much greener than I expected. And, it was spread out, with lots of landscaping to look at, not packed in like I thought it might be. The sweeping hills ran right into the beach, and there was a view of Pebble Beach at the far end – Rick was really bummed that there wasn’t time for golfing on this trip. But, I told him, we’ll be back. I actually declared that I wanted to move there within the first 10 minutes of being in Carmel, but then I pulled up my Zillow app… and changed my mind. When I win a million five million dollars, I’m moving into one of those cute ‘lil cottages on the beach.
But until then…
The Vendange Carmel is a small boutique Inn just outside of the main downtown area of Carmel. They’ve partnered with 15 Monterey County wineries to create a unique guest experience, celebrating the bounty of Monterey County’s vineyards. Each winery sponsors one room or suite, providing its own creative touches. From the McIntyre Vineyards room with its impressive 100-year-old section of grapevine to J. Lohr’s wine barrel on the balcony, every winery’s room offers a signature luxury experience. The participating wineries are: Blair, Cima Collina, Dawn’s Dream, Galante, Holman Ranch, J. Lohr, Joullian, Manzoni, McIntyre, Otter Cove, Tudor, Twisted Roots and Ventana.
We stayed in the Blair room, which boasted a full selection of their wines (available for purchase), a lovely secluded patio perfect for sipping aforementioned wine, and a beautiful sleek, modern bathroom with imported Spanish marble.
Unfortunately, we did not escape the Oregon weather on this trip, and were actually caught in some pretty torrential rainfalls. Otherwise, we would have enjoyed the heck out of that patio, and the outdoor firepit area which was situated right under a lovely lemon tree and surrounded by wisteria vines. We also could have walked into town, and down to the beach. But instead, we drove, and hid out in the local tasting rooms, and explored the lovely town under our umbrella which we never leave home without.
The next day… As we were leaving, the sun came out. Bummer.
I’d highly suggest staying at this lovely boutique Inn in this beautiful area of Carmel, California if you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful getaway. It’s the perfect retreat for a quick weekend away. Rates start at $100 per night, Sunday – Thursday ($150 per night Friday – Saturday). Plus, they offer complimentary breakfast daily and wine tasting on weekends.
It felt like a fairytale when we walked into Folktale Winery & Vineyards in Carmel, California – And that is just the way it was meant to be.
Just a quick 5 minute drive from the Pacific Ocean in Carmel, California, you’ll find Folktale Winery & Vineyards. Originally founded in the early-80’s as Chateau Julien, Bob and Patty Brower were inspired by their journeys to the Bordeaux region of France, to bring that experience of wine and good cheer to Carmel.
In 2015, the property was acquired by local Carmel winemakers, Gregory Ahn and Jonathan White. They renamed the winery Folktale, inspired by fairytales, and the thought that inside every great bottle of wine should be a exciting, fun, story waiting to be told.
The property itself looks like a fairytale when you walk in – With the white castle-like buildings, the floor to ceiling fireplace, and nooks and crannies for exploring.
Lots of natural elements are used in the décor, and, on chilly nights, there are plenty of fire pits outside to huddle around while you enjoy your wine.
An oversized Connect Four, Jenga, and Cornhole will keep you occupied all afternoon long.
Folktale Winery and Vineyards is committed to sustainable farming practices throughout their vineyards and gardens. Their onsite 5-acre vineyard, which grows Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, is farmed 100% organic. The remainder of their wine-producing grapes are growing at their 150 acres of estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco AVA of Monterey County.
It’s impressive to note that Folktale Winery & Vineyards is the only glass to grape tasting room in Carmel Valley. Equally impressive: They were recently named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the top 10 reasons to visit Monterey County.
We were extra lucky in that we had the personal experience of meeting with John Fitzgerald, Director of Hospitality at Folktale, for a personal tour of the entire property. He greeted us with a glass of their Sparkling Brut (perfect for this bubblehead), and then led us on a tour of the barrel room. Some of the barrels have even been personally signed by the musicians who have visited on the property.