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Carmel in Spring: A Local’s Guide

As winter loosens its hold on Monterey Bay, a dazzling transformation unfolds in Carmel-by-the-Sea. March through May is a glorious time to explore our coastal haven, where our quaint village and the Monterey Peninsula come to life with a burst of colors and renewed energy. The season is a draw for natural beauty, seasonal foods and stellar international events, added to the perennial pleasures of shopping, fine dining and sipping beautifully crafted cool-climate wines.

What do we love about our coastal area this season? Our local team is your insider’s guide to our neighborhood’s true charms. We asked Josh Adams and Madison See of our Tasting Room in Carmel-by-the-Sea for their favorite haunts and hidden gems that bring locals out to beaches, trails, and epicurean delights of the Monterey Bay.

Couple on the beach in Carmel


Evening Magic in Pacific Grove

Madison See, our tasting room associate, lives in Pacific Grove. “Everything’s so walkable in PG (Pacific Grove), much like it is in Carmel. We love to stroll to dinner in the village, and then a movie at this cute neighborhood theater called Lighthouse Cinemas. When you’re walking home, there’s all these pretty lights. It’s awesome.”


Blooms and Trails

As spring awakens, the once-muted landscape is awash in fresh greens and vibrant hues, while the iconic Monterey cypress trees frame an even truer ocean blue. The rains of winter months give way to misty mornings and the promise of sun-kissed afternoons, where the winter décor of our neighborhood is replaced by the first shy flower boxes manifesting spring.

Ocean front with flowers

Or take Josh Adams, our tasting room manager’s advice, and head directly to Carmel Beach. The captivating stretch of coastline tucked along our village is renowned for its pristine white sands and rugged bluffs. But locals love it for something else. “My favorite thing to do is take my dog to Carmel Beach, the only official off-leash dog beach in Monterey,” says Josh. “You can walk along the beach next to the waves or take the paved path above that follows the coastline and enjoy the incredible ocean views without getting sand in your shoes.”

Traveling south on the pathway along Scenic Road, whether strolling or rolling with an e-bike rented from Mad Dog Bikes, stop to admire the famed Clinton Walker House— Frank Lloyd Wright’s only oceanfront design—jutting out on rocks above the surf at Carmel Point.

A contingent of us coastal dwellers can also be found just a few miles inland, drawn to sunny Carmel Valley, where spring arrives a little earlier, “pre-gaming” for warmer days ahead. Josh likes taking his family to Garland Park for wildflower hikes bursting with blooms along trails winding through oak-studded hills, past Redwood groves and streams. Carmel Valley nurseries are stocked with spring planting starts, great for the future bounty of summer gardens.


We Can’t Get Enough of…

Watsonville strawberries
Pacific Grove’s “purple carpet”
Castroville artichokes
Dogs romping along Carmel Beach
Whales we see spouting from our tasting room
Otters!
Coastal bike paths
Cool climate wines


 

People picking fresh greens from garden

Seasonal Goodness: For the Love of Local Strawberries, and Then Some

Monterey County and the Salinas Valley showcase their agricultural prowess in springtime, affirming their recognition as The Salad Bowl of the World. Fields come alive with blooming crops, and soon after, spring greens and berries arrive at local farm-to-table restaurants. Fresh spinach appears in February, asparagus, peas and the famed artichokes from Castroville in mid-March, strawberries in early April and lettuces in early May. We crave restaurants serving up “primavera” greens folded into a light pasta cream sauce, tossed in salads, or dressed fresh and piled on a goat cheese crostino.

Josh and Madison rave about their favorites arriving at fruit stands and farmer’s markets. They have no disagreement on ripe berries. “So much fresh local produce starts coming back into season. A highlight for me is the local strawberries,” enthuses Josh. “I’ve never had better from anywhere else!” Madison agrees, “I love strawberry season and will eat them like candy. One of my favorite flowers also starts popping up at the markets in late February – ranunculus.”

Just a couple blocks from our tasting room, Carmel-by-the-Sea hosts a year-round farmer’s market along 6th Avenue between Junipero and San Carlos, near Devendorf Park. Check it out on Thursdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.


Neighborhood Events

Residents of the Monterey Peninsula enjoy the same myriad of events that draw visitors to our backyard. We just reveled in the AT&T Pro Am Golf Tournament’s return to stunning Pebble Beach, kicking off the events season. Spotting the famous faces strolling our cobblestoned streets is one of our favorite pastimes.

AT&T Pro Am Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach
January 31- February 4 – Pebble Beach

Jazz Bash by the Bay
March 1-3 – Monterey

Pebble Beach Food & Wine
April 4-7 – Pebble Beach

Santa Lucia Highlands Sun, Wind & Wine Festival
May 18 – Salinas

Carmel Art Festival
May 19-21 – Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea Culinary Week – The Art of the Plate
May 31-June 8- Carmel-by-the-Sea

Monterey Winemakers Celebration
June 8- Carmel-by-the-Sea


 

Whales in the Ocean in Carmel

Whale Watching

We never get tired of watching for migrating whales on their journey north from Baja, California. Sighting the majestic creatures breaching and spouting in the bay is breathtaking. Look for Gray Whales passing with their calves in February and March, then the stately Humpback Whales feeding on our nutrient-rich waters in April and May.

Tour operators offer excursions departing from the iconic Cannery Row area of Monterey,* but Carmel-by-the-Sea has elevated vantage points for spotting these gentle giants from the shore. Head to Carmel Beach, Point Lobos Natural Reserve and even the patio windows of our own Talbott tasting room on Lincoln Avenue for a glimpse of these marine mammals. We have binoculars handy for you to spy through the break in the pines overlooking the bay. We are the only tasting room in Carmel Village and one of the very few public locations in the village with a view of the water.


 

*Insider tip: bring a backpack with a breakfast burrito and thermos of hot coffee (make it Irish?) for your 4-hour morning tour; or switch to cheese, bread and (may we suggest, Talbott) wine for the afternoon excursion.

So what else do the locals do this time of year?


“I want to spend as much time as possible outside – hiking in Big Sur, heading to Carmel Valley, getting back in the water to surf. Seasonal menus change from winter fare to more light, bright and spring-like flavors. I love to find a patio if it’s sunny or a fireplace for a cocktail.”

MADISON
Tasting Room Associate


“Same thing we do all year round: eat, drink, shop. It’s honestly hard to differentiate the tourists from locals because we enjoy the same unique things. It’s exciting to explore our region and see what new shops or restaurants we can discover.”

JOSH
Tasting Room Man


 

Visit Us

Make plans to visit our beautiful Tasting Room on your visit to Carmel-by-the-Sea this season. Plan your weekend getaway or mid-week adventure and immerse yourself in the coastal atmosphere that inspires the wines we make and everything we do.

Reserve a luxurious seated tasting in our coastal inspired tasting room, or become a Club member for exclusive access to patio seating.

May we recommend our Legacy Tasting? Experience this remarkable tasting flight that pairs five wines of our estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a seasonal, rotating selection of artisan cheeses.

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