Vine & Dine

Caraccioli Cellars

wine glassChardonnay 2009

One of the nice things about visiting the tasting room of Caraccioli Cellars in the heart of Carmel is being able to order little plates of munchies to go with the wine.

Much of the joy goes out of the wine-tasting experience if one has hunger pangs, so it’s nice to get an order of bruschetta ($8), or Jeffrey’s spiced almonds ($4), or Moonstruck Chocolates ($2). Cheese & Charcuterie plates are offered as well in varying sizes from $10-$30.

Caraccioli Cellars’ wines are beautifully made, and trying them in their lovely tasting room adds to the experience. Designed by Si Teller, the tasting room “blends the small-town charm of Carmel with a big city contemporary sleek and trendy atmosphere,” and these pleasant surroundings most certainly offer the customer additional delight.

When sampling a Full Flight of their wines—a taste of any six for $15—I loved the 2009 limited-production Chardonnay ($29). Made with world-class grapes from the Santa Lucia Highlands, I’m sure the winemaking team of Michel Salgues and Joe Rawitzer are justly proud of this crisp and clean Chardonnay with its bright, bold fruit and subtle French oak flavors.

Caraccioli Cellars also makes extraordinary sparkling wines. Try their Brut Cuvee and Brut Rosé when you head to their tasting room. The Brut Rosé sparkling wine comes with a soft pinkish hue which gives it a rather romantic appeal.

Caraccioli Cellars, Delores between Ocean and 7th, Carmel-by-the-Sea, (831) 622-7722.

Pinot Paradise

If you haven’t already got your tickets for Pinot Paradise, coming up on April 11-13, then now is the time to do so because they are selling like hot cakes. This is a must-experience three day affair for all Pinot lovers, culminating with the Grand Cruz Pinot Noir and Food Tasting at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga on Sunday, April 13. Visit the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association at for more information.

Distinguished Artists

A fundraiser to support the Distinguished Artists series of music will take place from 6 p.m. on Friday, April 11 at Bargetto Winery in Soquel. There will be an amazing number of donated items to bid on such as concert tickets, vacations in Mexico, New York and Canada, helicopter and balloon rides, magnificent oriental carpets from Afghanistan Collections in Carmel, a Casimiro Lozano classical guitar, antiques from Shen’s Gallery—and much more. Lifestyle Culinary Arts will be catering delicious cuisine, and singer, composer and comedian James Lee Stanley will provide some fun entertainment. Online bidding is April 1-9, and tickets for the April 11 event are $55. Visit for more information.

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