California wine country

Mid-coast California is one of our favorite vacation spots.  My husband and I have been there a half-dozen times or so over the last 15 years.  Ever since our first week in Monterey, we’ve felt the pull of this spectacular part of the country.

Monterey itself is a neat little town with lots of great restaurants and of course, the aquarium.  Whenever I’m there I think I spend most of my time in front of the octopus tanks.  They fascinate me.  Lately we’ve been staying at the new Intercontinental Hotel right on Cannery Row and I think that will become our new Monterey address.  From there we can walk to the Whaling Station or the Sardine Factory and there’s a good little breakfast spot not far away either.

The view from the balcony to the courtyard @ the Intercontinental

And we can get in our 5-6 miles straight down to Pacific Grove and back.  At night the sea lions hang out on the pier and blast you with sleepy snorts if you get too close.  Oh and it’s just as gorgeous a view at night as during the day –

Monterey Pier

Usually we head to some of our favorite wineries for some tasting.  This means heading down Salinas valley all the way to Soledad.  101 runs straight through miles and miles of farmland, but River Road is where the wineries are.

vineyard

View from Hahn tasting deck down to Salinas valley

Wrath winery tasting room

From here we drove down to Paso Robles to see more of our favorite wine makers and do some tasting.  Paso Robles is a really beautiful region full of hills, grape vines, oak trees and flowers.  The name means Oak Pass and it’s not called that for nothing.  If you’re into Rhone varietals you really need to go there.  Denner, Linne Calodo, Booker, Terry Hoage, Four Vines are some of the best.

A rainstorm breaks over Paso Robles

Clouds and wildflowers in Paso Robles

Wildflowers of Paso Robles

Typically in May the rain has stopped in both Salinas valley and Paso Robles, but a freak storm system blew in while we were there, making for some unusual scenery.  It didn’t last though and the next day blue skies returned, but with some cool puffy clouds just to make things interesting.

Oaks of Paso Robles

Vineyards of Paso Robles

On the second morning of our stay in P.R., we drove down the 46 to US1 on the coast.  The explosion of wildflowers was amazing as were the seascapes and beaches….but that’s for another post.

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