Carmel Beach – Stunningly Beautiful!
Last weekend I spent 3 days feasting in Carmel Valley. I was inducted into the Societe du Mondiale chapter of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a global organization whose only mission is to enjoy great food and wine in the company of others equally interested in such and to promote good dining around the world.
The Mondiale part is for some of us Chaine members whose passion is wine. Speeches are not allowed at these formal events and everyone eats when the food is served. During the weekend the Chaine also sponsored the young sommelier competition and at the end after 3 days of testing and judging a young woman from New York City was crowned best in the country! In my mind all those young people are winners, amazing to witness the dedication to their craft.
The weekend started of with a reception at the host resort, the Quail Lodge.
On the way to my room I heard some terrific music coming from the Baja Cantina across the road from the lodge, quite a party going on there, I joined right in and met some of the locals and finishing the evening off with some dancing and a tasty Margarita!
On Friday the grand winetasting was held at the lodge focusing the Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans, accompanied by a delicious lunch featuring lots of local produce and goods. Santa Lucia Highlands is an up and coming wine regions producing some outstanding cool climate varietals such as Pinot and Chardonnay. I couldn’t taste all the wines from 19 wineries, but I did find some overall favorites, Bernardus, Hope and Grace, Joyce, Manzoni, McIntyre, Morgan, Scheid and Pessagno, most of those I had never even heard of before.
The formal evening dinner was held at the gorgeous Monterey Bay Country Club, highlighting the Roar wines, produced by the Franscioni family of “Gary’s Vineyard” fame. The Pisoni vineyard Pinot Noir was my personal favorite.
On Saturday a joined a small group for a walking food tour of Carmel, something I would recommend for anyone wanted to explore some of the more hidden places and nooks and crannies of this charming village.
Saturday night brought us back to the Quail Lodge ballroom for an incredible multi course meal, each course accompanied by a wine from Santa Lucia Highlands.
I returned on Sunday well fed, with my treasured sommelier cup on my Chaine ribbon, a few pins from other chapters, some new friends.
Carmel Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands and its wonderful wineries are definitely worth exploring!