Sunday, January 29, 2012

Carmel-by-the-Sea Wine Walk

Last month, I stayed at a great family-run inn, Hofsas House, in Carmel-by-the-Sea where I went to experience the new Carmel Wine Walk. Eight tasting rooms within six blocks of each other in the central shopping area (it's hard to call it "downtown" because it's more like a village center) are sprinkled among the curio shops, art galleries and European bistros and bakeries that make Carmel so charming. Among the wineries from the Monterey appellation with tasting rooms are Scheid Vineyards, Figge Cellars and Caraccioli Cellars. Each tasting room is different; for instance, Figge Cellars shares space with an art gallery, Vino Napoli is a combination tasting room/wine bar/Italian cafe, and Caraccioli looks like a swanky bar and broadcasts football games on its flat-screen TV.

Hot off the presses are passports (available from the Carmel Chamber of Commerce for $30) that give tasters a $10 tasting at each of the eight stops on the walk.

The Hofsas House was a lovely place to stay that was convenient to the center of Carmel. Owner Carrie Theis, who could not be a more gracious host, is brimming with tips, help and ideas for how to enjoy a stay in Carmel. She has even arranged for guests to pick their continental breakfast trays up in the small front lobby so she and her staff can interact with them Many of the rooms have ocean views, fireplaces and are dog-friendly. And the Hofsas House has some great packages this year such as the "S'mores Package" that includes all the ingredients for S'mores, a fire bundle, beach blanket and flashlight to take down to the beach and make your own bonfire. Throw in that special bottle of wine you picked up while tasting on the Carmel Wine Walk and you have a recipe for a perfect evening.