The biggest name in the Carmel Valley is Chateau Julien (8940 Carmel Valley Rd., 831/624-2600, www.chateaujulien.com, Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.). The European-styled white estate building with the round turret is visible from the road.
The light, airy tasting room is crowded with barrels, wine cases, souvenirs, and tasting glasses. When you enter, you’ll be offered sips from the wide selection of Chardonnays, Cabernets, Syrahs, Merlots, and more. If you’re lucky, you might find yourself tasting a rare Reserve blended red or a 10-year-old port.
For a treat, call ahead and reserve a spot on the twice-daily complimentary vineyard and winery tours. These tours conclude with a special tasting outside on the flagstone patio when weather permits.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition