Monterey wines

The Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association tour is in Sacramento on March 29 at the Hyatt Regency, 1209 L Street, from 6-9pm. For reservations call (831) 375-9400. Visit for more information.

On March 29, Monterey County’s winemakers are coming to town in a big tasting at the Hyatt Regency, with some 25 wineries from this large, diverse region. I asked Rhonda Motil, executive director of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, about what lesser-known, smaller wineries oenophiles should look for at the tasting—or in a wine shop:

“One of the beauties of the Monterey region is that we have a nice portfolio of large and small wineries. Larger players like J. Lohr, Blackstone and Hahn Estates are all going on the tour, but we also have some up-and-coming boutique wineries. Approximately 70 percent of our wineries produce under 10,000 cases, and that’s pretty small and boutique-ish. You won’t see them at everyday retailers—you have to seek them out. But three of these hidden gems that I would love to call out are Pessagno Winery, Paraiso Vineyards and Ventana Vineyards.

“Chardonnay is king here, but our up-and-coming varietals are pinot noir and syrah, and those wineries have land in both the northern and southern regions of the county, and offer those different varietals.”