Where is the River Road Wine Trail? What wineries are there? This piece of info from the official River Road Wine Trail website will get us started.
"The River Road Wine Trail is an association of Monterey County winery tasting rooms, located primarily along the River Road / Foothill Road corridor, on the Santa Lucia Highlands bench above the Salinas Valley."
Propaganda aside there is a lot to like about this small part of the wine world. Some of these wineries are only open on weekends , some Friday through Sunday, Some Thursday through Sunday and some all week long. Just about every one of these wineries have 90+ scores from one of the reputable Wine magazines and after a tour and taste you will know why, so lets take a drive down the road and stop at each one along the way.
Starting at the northern end the first place you will come to is Odonata Wines. Owner Denis Hoey is always trying something new and as such telling you what he has will probably have you looking for something that no longer exists. Ok maybe an over statement but there is always something new to try here. From lovely bubbles and still whites, savory reds and bold reds he has something for everyone.
Next up as you meander down the road is Talbott Vineyards. A cozy upscale tasting room on the end of the barrel barn offers a nice environment for tasting, and they have a little outside space to relax next to the vineyard. With two levels of tastings to choose from they offer good wines at good prices that should keep just about any wine drinker that likes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay happy.
Moving along to the next stop you will find Pessagno Winery. This tasting room is quite roomy inside with a picnic area outside and they have a serious number of wines to taste. With a lively tasting room atmosphere and a list that gives you a dozen or so wines to choose from there is going to be some happy tasters here. Don't miss a taste of the Four Boys!
Next up on our tour is Manzoni Cellars. Making wine since 2000 the Manzoni family has a lovely selection of small lot wines that aspire to be the best reflection of the region. With such small production there are really only two ways to get this wine. Go taste at their tasting room and buy the ones you love or join their wine club. The Syrah got our attention. One of the best use of space wine tasting areas we have seen. Check em out.
As we continue down River Road we come across Puma Road / Ray Franscioni Wines. One of the newer tasting rooms it is situated inside a barrel room and has a nice winery feel. Having provided grapes to a lot of well respected wine labels they are now focusing on their own wines. A broad selection of wines to taste and worthy new releases to be experienced.
Next along the road is a right turn which takes us onto Foothill Road and on to Wrath Wines. One of the fancier tasting rooms, it is like a Mediterranean vacation villa. A beautiful facility with a great picnic area by the pond and a cool spacious tasting room. The wine list is long and full of award winning wines with some very knowledgeable tasting room staff. A very nice tasting experience to be had here.
Continuing along Foothill the next stop is Hahn Family Wines. With one of the best views of the Salinas Valley this welcoming tasting room with the amazing back (or front) deck is a great spot to enjoy a picnic, on the lawn or a bottle on the deck. A great selection of wines for you to find something for any occasion, including the a fore mentioned relaxing with a view off the deck. A great selection of wines to taste through. The GSM is a perennial favorite.
Just a little down the road is the other fantastic view of the Salinas Valley. Its from the deck and event area of Paraiso Vineyards. This quaint tasting room also has an area for you to sit and enjoy the amazing views with a glass or to have a picnic lunch. The tasting room offers not only a great view but some great wines. The Riesling here is not only lovely to drink but also a steal. You can't go wrong here.
Traveling a bit further down the track and following the signs to Los Coches Rd and Ventana Vineyards Soledad tasting room. Situated inside an old barn, it is a charming time gone by experience. They have been making wine here for thirty years. With a full tasting list that includes some award wining wines, this is a fun place to taste. They also hold a couple of wine club events here every year.
As we move even further off the beaten track almost into woop woop territory, this is the location of Sycamore Cellars. This is a family Estate that is located in the upper Arroyo Seco appellation in Monterey County where four generations have lived and worked to grow and produce wines.
The River Road Wine Trail has more than enough worthy wines to fill an entire weekend with Tasting. There are some great wines being made here with a good range that will make for a fulfilling tasting Adventure. The only difficulty is there are almost no services along the route so pack a picnic lunch and some snacks with plenty of water for each days excursion and enjoy the tasting rooms and the wines. There are hotels close enough to make for easy access to the Trail and those hotels are close to some great restaurants so make a three day weekend of it and tell em all that we sent you. We 'recommend' you do!
Happy Wine Adventures,
Kiwi & Koala
River Road related Links
Quality time at Wrath
Super Sunday at Talbotts
Library Day Wine tasting at Pessagno Winery