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Monterey Coast
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Monterey County / San Benito County Region
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Monterey County: Tidepools and missions, giant redwoods and ranches, coastal mountains and farms, golf courses and spas. Of course there are vineyards and wineries! It's been nearly 250 years since grapes were first planted in the region, at the missions, but as with other missions these vineyards fell into disrepair in the early 1800s. Then a big gap in regional wine history.

In the 1960s the University of California Davis published a report saying that the climate in Monterey County was comparable to the Napa and Sonoma regions, and to Burgundy and Bordeaux. Pretty heady stuff, that sort of comparison. But it has proved true, with world class pinot noir and chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands in the northern part of Monterey County, and excellent Cabs, Merlots and Zinfandels from the southern part of the county. There are also some very nice Syrahs coming from the region.

This is a great region for any flavor of activity you want. Rest and relaxation? Check. Take the time for a round of golf at Pebble Beach, or soak in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Adventures? Check. Go drive a race car at Laguna Seca. Unique experiences? Check. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, is arguably the world’s best view into aquatic flora and fauna. The tide pools of the Big Sur coastline are a must. Can you see the sea otter preparing its dinner on its belly while floating on its back in the kelp beds? Carmel-By-The-Sea, is one of the great travel destinations for art galleries, dining, spas, shopping, golf, and just pure relaxation. Carmel is most probably the most “dog friendly” cities in all of California if not the U.S.A. Wineries? Check. Have a glass of wine or two while you're there. You'll enjoy it.

San Benito County: A small county in California, both in area and population. But really interesting, for the people and history, the geography and the climate. The county is home to Mission San Juan Bautista, founded in 1797. However, the county was not established until 1874, when locals, fed up with the coastal focus of Monterey County, successfully petitioned the state to break off into a separate county, San Benito.

To some degree, that's the wine story as well. The grapes know that the ocean is only 25 miles to the west, but stubbornly insist on having their own characteristics, separate from Monterey County. There are not a lot of acres planted, compared to other California counties, but what's there is good. From the lower, warmer Paicines AVA within the county to the Cienega and Lime Kiln Valleys, and finally to the high elevation of Mt. Harlan (vineyards starting at 1800 feet), there are some unique microclimates. Add in the varied geography, hills and valleys, some limestone, the San Andreas fault running through it all, and it's a fun area to discover.

Monterey County map

Monterey County events