By Charly SHELTON
Valentine’s Day is coming up. For some, that means sitting in their apartment alone, avoiding television stations that might play “The Notebook” while trying to view being single in a positive light. For others, it’s a chance to do something fun with your sweetie to show how much you care. And for others still, it is a requirement that you blow any and all expectations out of the water with an amazing, show stopping present or experience – or else. For those who fall in the latter categories, here’s some advice for the utmost in romantic weekends – Carmel.
Carmel, specifically Carmel-by-the-Sea in Northern California (just 15 minutes south of Monterey), is a haven for anyone over the age of 21. It’s fun for younger people, too, but nothing beats ending a day at the beach with a fancy dinner and a bottle of wine from a vineyard close enough to walk to. And for those who want to experience the best from the expansive Carmel-by-the-Sea wine room selection, the best option is the Wine Walk.
A self paced, self guided tour of some of the most popular wine tasting rooms in the area, the $65 ticket gives guests a complimentary $10 flight at each of the 10 tasting rooms. Each flight presents between three big glasses to six moderate sized glasses of wine. Note that this may not be a one-night event. Not to worry; the wine walk ticket is checked off at each room visited whether visited all in one day, within a weekend or some time over the entire year. The ticket is valid for one calendar year, so if consuming 60 small glasses of wine is a bit too much to attempt in a single evening, ticketholders can come back in the summer or when the leaves change in autumn and finish the tour then.
Some of the best wines in the world are grown in the Carmel and Monterey areas with many of the vintners espousing the superior conditions of the soil in the relatively under used Monterey and Carmel valleys, touting the way the marine layer affects grape growth for estate wines. In some tasting rooms, like Figge Cellars, the wine walk flight consists of contrasting wines of the same grape variety and fermentation. These are grown on either side of a mountain chain – one on the sea side, taking the salt air full front every day, and one behind the mountains, hidden in the valley below. Tasting these back-to-back reveals the importance of weather conditions and soil composition and how they can drastically affect the grapes and, therefore, the wines.
An educational experience, a romantic getaway, a chance to go on an adult vacation – it’s got it all. And for the non-wine drinkers, Firestone Walker Beer Brewery is on the way up to Carmel and The Hog’s Breath Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. They have Anchor Steam beer on tap. It’s so much better close to the source (San Francisco) and always best on tap.
While traveling to Carmel Valley, make sure to stop by the Holman Ranch tasting room as well (about 15 minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea). Voted one of the top 10 wines in the world by National Geographic, the Holman Ranch 2010 Hunter’s Cuvée Pinot Noir is incredible and only available through their wine club or in their tasting room. It may be the best wine you will taste all weekend.