By Charly SHELTON
I have been going to Carmel-by-the-Sea for four or five years now. Located just 15 minutes south of Monterey on the Central California coast, it’s a nice little getaway with beautiful boutique hotels, wine tasting rooms, amazing restaurants, art galleries, shops and experiences. But after so many years going up to the small town, which is only two or three times the size of Montrose, one may think that I’ve seen all that they have to offer. One would be wrong. It’s places like Vendange Carmel that keep this coastal gem new and fresh time after time.
I first stayed at Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites in 2014. As a budding wine drinker, I was still learning the ropes in trial-by-fire visits to tasting rooms and vineyards, trying to look cool by emulating what the grown-ups around me were doing. When I came to Vendange, I walked in feeling a little out of my comfort zone because it is a wine themed inn, with each room dedicated to and decorated by a different winery, either by the owner of the specific winery or one of their family members or friends. That feeling of inadequacy soon dissolved after speaking with owner Brian Lee, who explained what everything was and said if I had any questions to call him. On that trip, I stayed in the Blair Estates suite with its wine barrel stave tables and chairs.
This time, I returned with a modicum of wine education under my belt and was able to see the significance of some of the decorations in the room.
I was invited up to Carmel for the weekend and was shown to the Twisted Roots room, one of my favorite wineries. I had seen pictures of it online and read about it from fellow travel writers but it was even nicer than what I had read. It featured a gigantic California King bed with memory foam top, a little alcove sitting area with a table and a garden view, walk-in showers covered in Spanish marble – in other words, the works. But the best part – each of the rooms showcased a different take on decorating the same basic theme. I stayed first in the Blair Estates room back in 2014. Their take was very bright, with light colored woods in the bed and tables, a milk chocolate colored sofa, small dark runners on the bright white bed and a three-panel panorama of the vineyard. The Holman Ranch room, which I saw on a property tour with Lee, felt a little different. The bed was covered in a light and dark tan faux-fur blanket, riveted pillows depicting horses lined the top, a canvas print of the property at sunset hung on the wall and three prints of their wines and olive oils hung over the bed, and a bundle of threshed wheat stalks sat on the counter with a selection of Holman Ranch wines. The Twisted Roots room was different still though maintaining a wine theme. A dark and light parquet wood headboard at the bed, antiqued wood panel wine bottle holders on the wall, a similar chocolate colored couch, and a canvas print of the famous Dairy vineyard zinfandel vine, planted in 1918, hung over the fireplace. Three different rooms with three different ambiances but all put the guest in the right mindset for the wine weekend to come.
The best part was that each room dedicated to a winery, 16 out of the 20 total rooms at the inn, featured bottles of their wine hanging around the room to open at will. Lee said they started offering this as an added service for the guests of the inn, so they will never upcharge or undercut the price that would be found in the tasting room. Sipping a glass of Twisted Root’s famous 1918 Old Vine Zinfandel while relaxing in the TW room, sitting next to a framed picture of the old vine itself is a great way to spend an evening.
So no matter how many times I go to Carmel, there will always be something new to look forward to, like each of the fantastic rooms at Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites. For more information or to book yourself a room, visit vendangecarmel.com.