MONTEREY, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- From high octane events to classic Western watering holes, an excursion into Monterey County's bounty of hand-crafted liquids – from world-class wines, brews and revival cocktails - is enough to make the room swirl. Add a wealth of regional hops and botanicals, nine grape growing microclimates, a cache of veteran vintners and mind-altering mixologists and it's easy to see why this classic California outpost is the toast of the coast.
Diversity defines this wine region which boasts 45,000 acres of vines, 175 unique vineyards, nine distinct AVAs and enough small lot, handcrafted juice to keep the country of Bhutan buzzed. Seek and secure some of the more obscure varietals (42 in all) with a day of trekking along the bucolic River Road Wine Trail (14 wineries), aboard the Grape Express into Carmel Valley village (New: Holman Ranch Vineyards) or wander through the new Carmel Wine Walk by the Sea combining the pleasures of the Pacific with a tight combo of 12 wine tasting options laced within four tasty blocks (New: Wrath Wines, Caraccioli Cellars, Figge Cellars) In Monterey, the new McIntyre Vineyards at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa is the stop.
This region is suds heaven for the craft beer enthusiast. Brew venues such as Peter B's Brew Pub's focus on locally grown cascade hops, monthly Firkin cask parties and doubled brewing capacity. Local hits include Carmel Valley Brewing Company's small-batch pale and blonde ales crafted by brew master Dean Hatfield in a converted barn in Carmel Valley (available at Los Laureles Saloon, Will's Fargo Restaurant & Saloon, Running Iron Saloon and Post Ranch Inn) and an eye-popping 73 brews - as well as Patron tequila and Jack Daniel's – on tap at Cannery Row Brewing Company, along with signature beers including the Tipsy Seagull and Canning Line, a Belgium red ale. For visitors on a taste trek, Salinas' Monterey Coast Brewing Company and Marina's English Ales Brewery are must stops. Other haunts include the newly opened Mucky Duck, The Tap Room at Pebble Beach, London Bridge Pub, Jack London's Grill & Taproom, Crown & Anchor, Britannia Arms, Otter's Den, Hog's Breath Inn and Big Sur's Fernwood Tavern and Maiden Pub.
The hand-crafted cocktail revival is in full shake along Monterey's coastline, including a new lineup of inspired martinis, mojitos and margaritas at Carmel's expanded Grasing's bar and restaurant. Those interested in more civil pursuits can hunker down with a variety of flights including single malt Scotch, bourbon, cognac or Irish whiskies. Nearby, Doris Day's vibrant Terry's Lounge at the Cypress Inn serves up a new Classic Cocktail Menu playing off the actor's favorite costars: Ronald Regan, Kirk Douglas and Cary Grant. Veteran bartender Drago stands ready with a new spin on such vintage drinks as the Ramos Fizz, Sidecar and lesser known starlets like the Widow's Kiss, Clover Club and the Zombie.
In Monterey, mixology is king at the new Restaurant 1833, housed in the historic Stokes Adobe. The bar plays off an apothecary twist with lab bottles and custom botanicals including Pain Killers, Elixirs and a flashy tableside absinthe cart offering the largest selection in the United States (25+)served in two formats: traditional with ice and a sugar cube or "pyro" Russian style by igniting and inhaling the fumes. Other top spots for cashing in on the perfect pitch martini include the venerable Sardine Factory, Pacific's Edge, Mission Ranch and Casanova.
AUTHENTIC WATERING HOLES
From Carmel Valley's new alfresco beer garden, LokaL, serving locally made Czech-style brews to Seaside's new Post No Bills Craft Beer House, whistles are easily whetted here. This region's rich equestrian and ranching roots translate into a modern day lineup of savory saloons, complete with branding irons, saddle seats and a host of local brews. Topping the list of these classic Western watering holes: Los Laureles Lodge Saloon, the Running Iron Saloon, Will's Fargo Restaurant & Saloon and Hog's Breath Inn. Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch is the stop for original farmhouse (1850) lodgings and brews; Los Laureles Lodge, once the venerated Vanderbilt family's thoroughbred stables, offers unique digs as well. Nearby, Holman Ranch and Stonepine Estate Resort offer a classic Carriage House and Blacksmith Barn (respectively) for private Western themed events.
2012 KEY EVENTS
February 18-19, 2012 – Red Wine & Chocolates: Enjoy a sumptuous select of chocolates to compliment Chateau Julien red wines throughout the weekend. Carmel, CA. 831.624.2600; www.chateaujulien.com
February 24, 2012 – Wine, Art & Music Walk: A walking tour of Pacific Grove's finest art venues, the event is complimentary and open to the public. Pacific Grove, CA. 800.656.6650; www.pacificgrove.org
March 27, 2012 – Annual Great Taste of Pacific Grove: The fabulous food and wine event showcases the area's finest restaurants and wineries along with a silent auction. Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, CA. 831.642.4943; www.pacificgrove.org
April 12-15, 2012 – Pebble Beach Food & Wine: Marking its 5th anniversary, this four-day soiree is quickly becoming the West Coast's premiere lifestyle event mixing celebrity chef golf tournaments with tasting seminars and galas sporting 100+ world-class toques. Pebble Beach, CA. 866.907.3663; www.pebblebeachfoodandwine.com
May 18-20, 2012 – Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions: Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program and annual sustainable seafood conference is a perfect springboard into the bounty of Monterey County. The kick-off gala, located within the aquarium, showcases organic and sustainable wineries and the ever-clever sushi lounge. Monterey, CA. 831.648.4800; www.montereybayaquarium.org
Mid September, 2012 – Harvest Farm-to-Table: Graze on incredible edibles crafted by some 50+ rock star chefs backed with a cache of world-class wines. Carmel, CA. 866.907.3663; www.harvestcarmel.com
October 4, 2012 – 24th Annual Taste of Carmel: Celebrate the regional wines and cuisine at this annual event showcasing the area's top talent. Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. 831.624.2522; www.tasteofcarmel.com
November 1-3, 2012 – Big Sur Food & Wine Festival: Celebrating its 4th anniversary, this event delivers the essence of Big Sur with forays in the forests, a wine & swine cookout and special foodie events at top outposts including Post Ranch Inn and the Restaurant at Ventana Inn & Spa. Big Sur, CA. 831.869.1341; www.bigsurfoodandwine.org
May 19, 2012 – Santa Lucia Highlands Gala: The vintners of Santa Lucia Highlands host this annual exclusive tasting. Sample limited-release gems and hard-to-get vintages offered by the winemakers themselves and paired with great food and music. Mer Soleil Vineyards, CA. 831.595.7741; www.santaluciahighlands.com
June 1, 2012 – Wine, Art & Music Walk: A walking tour of Pacific Grove's finest art venues, free and open to the public. Art Walk maps are available at any participating stops. Pacific Grove, CA. 800.656.6650; www.pacificgrove.org
June 8-9, 2012 – 36th Annual Monterey Wine Festival: Enjoy a day of tasting along the Pacific at this annual event. Monterey Custom House Plaza, Monterey, CA. 800.422.0251; www.montereywine.com
June 9, 2012 – Monterey Beer Festival: Come to the Monterey Fairgrounds for the greatest assortment of beer ever assembled on the Central Coast! Monterey, CA. 831.373.2843; www.seemonterey.com/monterey-beer-festival
Mid July, 2012 – Cowboys & Cabernet Poetry and Wine Tasting: Enjoy tales of the Wild West paired with barbecue and wine. Salinas, CA. 831.775.3100; www.carodeo.com
August 11, 2012 – 20th Annual Winemakers' Celebration: Dozens of Monterey County wineries will pour over 200 new releases and special wines. Carmel, CA. 831.375.9400; www.montereywines.org
November 9-10, 2012 – Winemakers' Dinner & Best of the Blue: Second annual celebration spotlighting Monterey County wines. Location tbd. 831.375.9400; www.Montereywines.org
Monterey County is located 120 miles/192 km south of San Francisco and 345 miles/552 km north of Los Angeles along the classic California corridor. The region boasts 99 miles of prime Pacific Coastline, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, three historic missions, 45,000 acres of premium vineyards, 28 golf courses and over 250 lodging properties. Monterey County includes the Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur, North County and the Salinas Valley. The Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY), just three miles from historic downtown Monterey and minutes from the area's major attractions, is served by non-stop flights to and from San Diego (SAN), Denver (DIA), Las Vegas (LAS), Phoenix (PHX), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). Visitor info: www.SeeMonterey.com
SOURCE Monterey County Convention and Visitor's Bureau