Grapes hanging off vine

Skip Napa's Crowds And Visit This Stunning Wine Destination Instead

By Kristin Conard


Napa Valley can get busy and pricey, particularly during the harvest season. For an underrated California wine region with fewer crowds, check out Carmel Valley in Monterey County.
Carmel Valley is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) with 300 acres of vineyards. The region grows many Bordeaux varieties due to its well-draining soils and microclimates.
Visitors can reserve a winery tasting at Holman Ranch, known for its chardonnay and pinot noir, or Folktale Winery & Vineyard, which has a French-chateau-style tasting room.
To streamline your Carmel Valley tasting experience, visit Carmel-by-the-Sea, a coastal town with amazing beaches and 18 tasting rooms in the downtown area.
If you want a place to stay, the Stilwell Hotel in Carmel has multiple tasting rooms just a short walk away, as well as a restaurant, Foray, with a 1,000-bottle wine cellar.