A while back, I purchased a Groupon for a wine tour at Chateau Julien. I had planned on going with Mr. K, but my lack of planning skills (which was a first), meant that by the time I called they were booked up for his weekend visit.
So, today, Pia (a good friend from the program) and I headed down to Carmel for a gorgeous day of wine tasting. It took us about an hour and a half to get down there.
It wouldn’t have taken quite as long, but apparently the Big Sur Marathon was going on (congrats to all those who ran & finished it! I now want to do it next year – its beautiful down there!).
Once we arrived to the vineyard, I fell in love.
It was a beautiful day for wine tasting. We tried 7 different wines – SEVEN! A Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sangiovese, Convivance (2007 – they only made this in 2006 and 2007 – and it costs $80/bottle!), a Sherry and a Port. But, I didn’t take photos of them all. What can I say, I got distracted by the wine
A few of the wines we tried, including (from the left) a steel aged 2009 Pinot Grigio, a Merlot (from the barrel!), and a Sangiovese, which came from the vineyards onsite!
We tasted wines on the patio, and in the barrel aging room – they have more than 1200 barrels in here!
This would be the barrel we picked up to take with us for post prelims celebration. Its only got 300 bottles of wine it it. We can do that in one night, right?!
Our tour guide used the ‘thief’ to give us samples of Merlot from the wine barrels – they use both American and French oak barrels. And it was crazy how you could actually feel the difference of the barrels – and apparently that transfers into the textures of the wine inside! Insanity!
Rough scenery, right? These are the onsite vineyards (Sangiovese) and the baby grapes (on the far right).
Although Chateau Julien buys most of their grapes from other farms in the Salinas Valley, they de stem, press and ferment and create all the wines on site from the grapes, the process which starts with the machine below. Apparently the grapes go from being dumped into the machine to being fermented in either 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the type of wine (red v. white) that they’re making. That’s an insanely fast process in my mind.
The last two wines we tried were a Sherry and Port. They were both very very good, but far too sweet for me. We tasted a few sips, but decided they were too rich to finish for an afternoon drink. They would’ve been quite good for a dessert wine, though.
All in all, it was a great day, with a fantastic tour guide who was extremely knowledgeable about the whole process and had grown up with the family who owns the vineyard, so it was pretty informative and lots of fun. Pia and I had a fabulous day, tasted some delicious wines, and had a nice, relaxing afternoon – a great break from studying
If you’re in the Carmel area and are looking for a beautiful place to spend the afternoon, the Chateau Julien grounds are open for picnickers. You can bring your own picnic, and if you so choose purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy with lunch (they keep white wine chilled in a fridge just for this purpose!). I’m not sure if you could bring your own (I personally would feel quite rude doing that), but you could always ask.
If I’m ever down in Carmel on a beautiful day, I totally plan on picnicking here. Or if anyone wants to go with me…just let me know
Have you ever been to wine country (anywhere in the world)? What is your favorite type of wine? I am falling in love with wine country in Califonria, but I first fell in love with vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina…its also where I discovered my favorite vineyard and wine: Cavas de Don Arturo Malbec (and Cabernet Sauvignon). But Zinfandel (red) and Ice Wines are up there as well…As are Pinot Noirs, Pinot Grigios, Chardonnays (fruity)…. I think you get the picture.