Including Carmel Valley, The Edna Valley, Santa Maria And More
Central coast wine tasting adventures in California can be found from Monterey to Santa Maria. Plan your California wine tasting tour with information on the Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria viticulture areas. You’ll find out about winery locations, any distinguishing features, wine tasting room hours, tasting fees and tour times if available.
Monterey Wine Tasting
This region includes Monterey and the portion of land stretching south between Highway 1 and the 101, where Carmel Valley and the Salinas area have vineyards and wineries. The Santa Lucia Highlands has terraced vineyards overlooking the Salinas River Valley.
Up the Carmel Valley Road are the wineries of Chateau Julien, Talbott, Jouillian and Benardus. Galante is quite remote, as you must drive 30 minutes east over 2 scenic passes on Cachagua Road, but there is a huge beautiful rose garden and ranch there at 1800 feet above sea level.
The road to Carmel Valley is a lovely drive up the hills from Highway 1 near Carmel. Several fine restaurants grace this rural village. the very popular Cafe Rustica has delicious food and outside dining in addition to the rustic, pub-like interior.
In addition to wine tasting, Carmel Valley boasts some fine hiking areas in Garland Ranch Regional Park.
When touring Carmel Valley wineries, you can find central coast hotel accommodations there or in charming Carmel-By-The-Sea, Monterey, or Pacific Grove.
At the northern end of Monterey Bay, there is a wine tasting region up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
In Monterey itself, there is a winery on Cannery Row called Baywood Cellars. You can taste many different wines at A Taste of Monterey, also on Cannery Row. Between Monterey and Salinas, are Meador Estate and Ventana Vineyards.
There are several wineries sprinkled in amongst the farmlands along the 101 corridor south of Salinas. In Salinas itself you can visit A Taste of Monterey’s other tasting room. Catch up on Jack London history at the Jack London Museum.
Continuing south on the 101 near Gonzales is Cloninger Cellars. Still further south near Soledad (also the gateway to Pinnacles National Monument), are Chalone Vineyards, Paraiso Springs, Smith & Hook/Hahn Estates and Wrath Wines. Scheid Vineyards is in Greenfield, at the far end of this section of the central coast wine tasting region.
Some of the most popular local dining choices include the Duck Club, Montrio Bistro, Fresh Cream Restaurant, Hula’s Island Grill and Epsilon Fine Greek Restaurant, to name just a few.
San Luis Obispo Wine Tasting
Another area for central coast wine tasting includes the town of San Luis Obispo, the Edna Valley, and the Arroyo Grande Valley. Paso Robles wine country is also in this region, but since it encompasses quite a lot of wineries, there is a separate page dedicated to it. See Paso Robles Wineries.
In or around the town of San Luis Obispo itself, you can visit Wild Wood Winery, Windemere Winery, Cerro Caliente and Perbacco Cellars.
Heading southeast will take you into Edna Valley. Along Orcutt Road and on side roads you’ll find Baileyana, Wolff Vineyards, Tolosa Winery, Edna Valley Vineyard and Domaine Alfred.
Now you are crossing into the Arroyo Grande Valley appellation. Go east on Lopez Drive towards Lopez Lake and you’ll pass Talley. Continue past the lake for the remote Saucelito Canyon Vineyard (but their tasting room is in Edna Valley) and Rancho Arroyo Grande, both off of side roads.
If you backtrack to the west and then head up Corbett Canyon Road, you’ll find Corbett Canyon and Kynsi before meeting the 227. Going north back through the Edna Valley towards San Luis Obispo will take you past Claiborne & Churchill and Tolosa.
Pismo Beach is a short drive to the southwest of Edna Valley and a good place to base your tour of San Luis Obispo wine country if you also want to fit in some beach time. See central coast wineries near San Luis Obispo
You may want to complement your central coast wine tasting tour with some local dining. The Big Sky Cafe, Tsurugi, Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ, Gardens of Avila, and Buona Tavola are some of the most popular choices.
Santa Maria Valley Wine Tasting
Santa Maria is in the northern part of Santa Barbara County, which can be considered the southern border of the central coast wine tasting region. It seems like vineyards here have been popping up like mad in the past 10 years or so. It makes for a worthy addition to your central coast wine tasting experience.
This is a cool growing district unlike most of the other California wine country regions. The temperature rarely exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Santa Maria Valley and the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail can be reached by heading east from Betteravia Road at the south end of the city. McKeon-Philips is close by. Head southeast along Foxen Canyon Road and connecting roads. Cottonwood Canyon, Cambria, Rancho Sisquoc and Foxen are sprinkled throughout the area in approximately that order. The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail is a beautiful, bucolic drive, which makes you imagine that California isn’t such a crowded state after all.
Popular local dining choices include Chef Rick’s, Cafe Monet, Shaw’s Famous Steak House, Red Lobster Restaurant, and Atari-Ya Japanese Restaurant.
Continuing further south on your central coast wine tasting tour will take you to Zaca Mesa and the start of the Santa Ynez Valley wineries.
California central coast wine tasting is a pleasant alternative to world famous and oft-crowded Napa and Sonoma.