This would qualify as an embarrassment of riches.
Monterey County enjoys three wine trails that rank among the best in the country.
A single block in Carmel-by-the-Sea—between Ocean and Seventh, San Carlos and Dolores—has 10 different tasting rooms to complement another 10 or so nearby.
Only 1,000 steps across Carmel Valley, where tasting rooms continue to sprout while the other areas slow down, and the parent vineyards are often down the road, encompasses well over 20 by itself.
But my favorite might be River Road, where there are more grapes, views and tasting spaces that capitalize on the valley setting. In many ways, it’s the heart of Monterey County wine country.
Now one of the best places to soak up the scenery along River Road, the Hahn patio, adds live music noon-3pm every Sunday in July and August.
And Scheid’s Greenfield tasting room does noon-3pm July 19 and August 30.
In case you needed another excuse to bask in the abundance.
More quick news nibbles:
• Salinas Brickhouse is now open in old Callejon and Old Town Bar & Grill at 66 W. Alisal in Oldtown. Organic soups, homemade Mexican fare 7am-9pm.
• Gilroy natives and garlic lovers Tom and Stacy Davenport won the garlic dream wedding contest and will renew their vows in a garlic-themed ceremony on the cook-off stage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Sunday, 4pm Sunday, July 26. Cake and champagne reception follows.
• Last week serial restaurant Bill Lee filed a for a new business name: Thin Ice Catering. Truly.
• Longtime local chef Jeff Rogers, who spent time with Quail Lodge and Monterey Bay Aquarium, among other spots, had an interesting mission at hand as food pointman for a big new three-day music festival in Sparta, Kentucky called NiFi Fest with Hank Williams Jr. and Miranda Lambert headlining. Only now the festival is postponed indefinitely. Rogers continues to live in Monterey.
• Trailside Cafe in Monterey closes July 26. Its new location rolls on in Carmel Valley next to Chalk Rock's tasting room near Kasey's gas station.
• Carmel Bach Festival holds its first Triple Play Monday—home brewed caramel bock fest beer and appetizers for starters, an orchestra concert by Pete Hanson and a wine and cheese reception to finish—starting 6:30pm Monday, July 20, at Sunset Center Terrace ($25, bachfestival.org/tripleplaymonday).
• Over at Salinas Sports Tavern in Oldtown (422-5652), Chef Felipe Fierros serves up the ultimate pub gut bomb for those needed to sop up some beer: The garbage plate ($13.95) rocks fries, sausage, burger patty, melted cheese, special spicy homemade sauce…served over pasta. As one regular adds, “recommended Zantac chaser.”
• Big dinner with bigger heart Aug. 13 to support mental illness awareness and treatment: AIM for the Cures benefits AIM for Mental Health and includes cocktail reception, wine tasting, some of Car Week's most impressive vehicles, Pebble Beach Company chefs, American Idol finalist James Durbin and other who's who types ($500).
• Heller Estate hosts a summer garden party in the sculpture garden 3:30-5pm Sunday, July 26 with summer wines and small bites and winemaker Rich Tanguay talking “What you don’t know about organically grown grapes” ($20/general; $15/wine club members; 659-6220).
• Wine from the Heart on the breezeway next to Portola Hotel in Monterey is no more—now it’s Sovino Wine Bar & Merchant. The free ribbon cutting party happens 5-6:30pm Tuesday, July 28.
• Brewmaster Kevin Clark and Exec Chef Jason Giles' latest monthly brewers dinner comes Aug. 3 and will sell out—five courses (including thyme-cured pork chop and fois gras torchon), five special beers (Britney is Back sour ale and barrel-aged imperial red) in new barrel room ($70++, 649-2699).
• In Your Backyard Grand Finale Event at Holman Ranch brings in a bunch of impressive chefs in a fun picnic format to benefit three great nonprofits tomorrow night, July 15 ($95). Learn more on the Weekly calendar page.