An Afternoon in Monterey County Wine Country

In December, we decided to take a last minute trip down to Monterey, California. It’s a three-hour drive for us and on the way down we were trying to come up with something new to explore and we’d never tried any the wineries nearby before.Wrath Winery Monterey Deck Chair

There are a few different wine areas nearby, but we headed our way over to Soledad, a great piece of Monterey County Wine Country, which is about 40 minutes East of downtown Monterey along the foothills.

Our first stop I picked since I recognized the name and the second just because the name sounded fun. Both of which were great successes. Overall, the wineries were beautiful, the wines tasty and the staff we meet very knowledgeable and spunky. We even ended up joining one of the wine clubs.

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Stop One Up On the Foothills

Helwig Winery Monetery InteriorFirst, we visited Hahn Winery. It’s tucked up in the foothills and the drive is a bit of a rough one but well worth it. Once you park you have great views all around. You’re on one foothill and can see across the valley to another with vineyards in between.

(And a quick warning: the address doesn’t take you to the actual tasting room. Take a left on foothill like it says and then keep driving about another mile. You’ll see a large sign pointing to their driveway. From there it’s a mile up a paved but rustic road to the tasting room.)

We visited on a Saturday and while they had people wandering in they had more than enough staff to give you a personal experience. Each tasting is $15 for 5 tastes. We split them and tasted all ten wines. You also get the fee waived with a $40 purchase which isn’t hard to do.

Helwig Winery Monterey PatioTheir whites were bright and fresh, they had a Rose of Malbec which was a great twist that I still have waiting for a summer evening in our wine fridge, and a variety of reds from a complex Pinot Noir to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. We didn’t even have to be convinced to join the wine club.

On top of the great wine, the patio has a breathtaking view to enjoy a glass or a bottle with friends in Monterey County Wine Country.

Relaxing with a Glass and a Pond

We drove in the direction back towards Monterey and came upon Wrath Winery (Grapes of Wrath anyone?) As you pull up you pass a gorgeous rundown school building and then their tasting room with a deck just overlooking a little pond.

Wrath Winery Monterey OutdoorWe enjoyed what is now one of our favorite Chardonnays, which we typically don’t like. Steel barreled, dry and crisp instead of the common buttery taste. We just opened it with friends this weekend and it was as good as we remembered. Afterward, we enjoyed everything from a slightly dry Moscato to some very rambunctious reds. The staff was great and told us a bit about the wine and gave us a quick tasting before we each took a glass to sit on the deck.

We loved the view and overall relaxing atmosphere. They had deck chairs with big arms to rest your glass on overlooking the little pond. It can be hard to relax at many of the wine tasting destinations such as Napa or Sonoma so this was a great treat.

Overall, it was a lovely afternoon with great wine, beautiful views, and friendly people. We will definitely be heading back this spring.

For more information about Monterey & Carmel check out these great books on Amazon including Day Hikes On the California Central CoastFodor’s Northern CaliforniaLonely Planet Pacific Coast Highways Road Trips, and Lonely Planet Coastal California.

Have you been out to the Monterey County Wine Country? What wineries did we miss and should try next time? Leave a comment below. 

Traveling to Monterey Soon?

You’ll want to stay a while to explore the best of the Monterey & Carmel area. Learn more about and book more fantastic hotels in Monterey on Priceline and TripAdvisor.


About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.