Street Smart Monterey County Wines

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By Andrea Stuart | Photography by Manny Espinoza

Positioned in charming downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea,
the 22nd Annual Winemakers’ Celebration on May 3,
hosted by the Monterey County Vintners & Growers
Association (MCVGA), proved more popular than
ever, boasting more than 600 attendees who enjoyed
more than 100 different Monterey County wines and
small bites by local chefs. “Transitioning to ‘the streets’
allowed the association to garner more exposure for
the budding local wine industry,” says Scott Caraccioli
of Caraccioli Cellars. “We actually cut off sales the
night before in order to ensure it was a positive tasting
experience for everyone.”

Having been receptive to the idea from the very
beginning, the City of Carmel played an integral role
in bringing the event to fruition. From inception to
planning and final approval, the event hit the ground
running without missing a step, despite having a shorter
planning season than usual. Caraccioli credits much of
the event’s success to the fact that everyone in town,
including local hoteliers and restaurateurs, were eager
to participate, providing attendees with promotional
packages that included nearby stay options and access
to decadent meals within walking distance. “At a wine
event like this, if you don’t have to worry about where
you’re going to eat or how you are going to get back
to your hotel, it makes the experience more relaxed,”
he says. “For this reason, the association planned the
event on a weekend that didn’t compete with other
events.” The symbiotic relationship between the event
planners, the City of Carmel, and local businesses
made the event approachable and easy to digest for
out-of-towners who got to know a different side of the
Monterey County region.

Monterey County is a farmer-driven community that has
changed the way many people see and taste California
wine. Imbued with humility and passion for agriculture,
winemakers and growers in Monterey County are known
for their accessibility and unpretentious etiquette. This
COMMUNITY personable approach to winemaking appeals to novice
and experienced tasters alike because the dialogue
neither overwhelms nor underwhelms the consumer.
“Monterey County is not intimidating or esoteric,” says
Caraccioli. “And this is brought to the event, where
about 70 percent of the people pouring wine are people
directly involved with making it.” That means, not only
can you taste the wine, but you can have a conversation
about the wine. You can learn about the terroir and
methods used in order to understand how the wine
came to be. “That’s the whole fun of winemaking!”

From Hames Valley to Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia
Highlands, Monterey County includes numerous
American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) that span about
90 miles. These areas are each known for unique
microclimates and attributes that intimately shape
the flavors and textures of the grapes they grow (the
terroir). Growers understand that in order to maintain
specific qualities and longevity, they must demonstrate
respect for local agricultural needs. As such, they
employ techniques that preserve soil and land integrity
for future generations while nurturing the region’s
grapes, ultimately inspiring award-winning wines.

Attracting people from as far away as Fresno, the Bay
Area, and the Sacramento Valley, the 22nd Annual
Winemakers’ Celebration featured 4,880 more square
feet this year. While they liked last year’s location at
The Barnyard Shopping Village in Carmel, the event’s
growth required a new venue. This enabled the event
to seamlessly work itself into Carmel’s village landscape.
Caraccioli, who has been involved with the MCVGA for
three years, was pleased that the organization was able
to reach new people this year. “Hosting the event in
Carmel allowed us to centralize it, which made it more
accessible to everyone,” he concludes.

For more information about the MCVGA or the
Winemakers’ Celebration, visit montereywines.org.

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