Tucked away along the California coastline, stretching to Salinas, the birthplace of John Steinbeck, is Monterey County; a burgeoning oasis of wine, wildlife, legacy and more. During our time in Monterey County, we tasted our way through wineries, took a wildlife watching cruise, visited places of influence for many a Steinbeck story and sampled the farm-fresh foods of Salinas, California’s salad bowl.
The National Steinbeck Center Museum
Born and raised in Salinas, Steinbeck pulled inspiration from Monterey County for many of his famed novels such as “East of Eden,” “Cannery Row,” “Sweet Thursday” and “Tortilla Flat” to name a few. In Salinas, the National Steinbeck Center Museum pays tribute to his life and work. Put yourself in his shoes as you meander through this interactive museum where his stories come to life.
Wildlife watching with Whisper Charters
If it’s wildlife you seek, look no further than Elkhorn Slough. More than 3,000 acres of marsh and tidal flats make up the slough, one of the last undisturbed wetlands in California. Hundreds of species of birds, fish and invertebrates call Elkhorn Slough their home. During your charter cruise expect to see seals, sea lions, otters and more.
Traveling down River Road in Salinas Valley, you will find more than two dozen wineries. White arrows mark the path, leading you where you need to go and entry to many of the wineries is free. The Salinas Valley provides stunning scenery and is an ideal destination for any wine lover.
St. Lucia Winery - Hahn Estate
Enjoy the view of the Salinas Valley at The Hahn Estate Tasting Room as you sip on some of their award-winning wines. Tastings are offered daily and picnic areas are available to visitors. For those looking for a bit of adventure, Hahn offers ATV tours of the vineyard. You’ll enjoy an educational tour of the winery complete with a reserve tasting in their VIP tasting room. To learn more, visit .
For Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it’s Talbott Vineyards you’ll want to visit. A must-try is their Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir and their Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay. These delicious wines are all derived from fruit found within Monterey County. For more information, visit .
De Tierra Vineyard
Of the land, De Tierra Vineyard sources their grapes from favorable, unique soils to provide some of the best wines in Monterey County. But wine isn’t the only thing you’ll find at De Tierra as they also have olive orchards used to produce their own olive oils. To learn more, visit .
Puma Road Winery
As a third generation Monterey County farmer, Ray Franscioni has earned a reputation among his industry for producing some of the finest grapes and now some of the finest wines. With two decades of winegrowing experience the Franscioni family has honed their skills to create limited releases like Puma Road. Puma Road includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris limited releases from the Santa Lucia Highlands. For more information, visit .
At Pessagno Winery, their passion for winemaking runs deep. Winemaker Stephen Pessagno was first introduced to the art of winemaking when he was a young boy visiting their family ranch in Santa Clara Valley. He took the inspiration he gained that day and used it to create Pessagno Winery where limited quantities of luxury wines are produced today. To learn more, visit .
The Steinbeck House
A truly unique opportunity can be found at The Steinbeck House where visitors may browse the gift shop or make reservations for lunch at Steinbeck’s boyhood home. You can find The Steinbeck House only a few blocks away from the museum.
The Haute Enchilada
On the menu at this eclectic, hot-spot you will find locally grown organic produce and sustainable seafood tailored to satisfy your taste buds. Better yet, at The Haute Enchilada you won’t just find delicious food but with a full bar equipped for both beer and wine tasting and two art galleries featuring artwork by local artists, you might never want to leave.
Look to Gino’s for authentic Italian in Monterey County. The Bozzo family of Cosenza, Italy opened Gino’s in 1975. Their specialty is pasta dishes and, keeping in theme with California’s salad bowl, their food is made from only the freshest ingredients. Gino’s offers a full bar and extensive wine list. They are open for lunch Monday through Friday and for dinner Monday through Saturday.
Your California escape awaits you. To learn more about all that Monterey County has to offer and to start planning your visit today, go to .