Crave – food & drink

The 2005 Tempranillo. That’s what got me hooked on Pierce Ranch Vineyards wines. Until that wine, I didn’t even know Iberian varietals could be successfully grown in Monterey County.

For decades, Monterey County has been widely known for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. But when it comes to reds, I generally like my wines on the darker end of the spectrum—and that requires a warmer climate.

Pierce Ranch Vineyards is located in the sunny southernmost part of Monterey County. Here, in the San Antonio Valley appellation, the climate is similar to Paso Robles (one of my favorite Zinfandel regions), which means the days are warm and the grapes achieve a full, rich fruit flavor. Situated roughly 14 miles from the ocean, the small family-owned operation produces limited-run estate-grown wines, with an emphasis on Spanish and Portuguese varieties—including many you won’t find anywhere else locally!

Year after year, the Tempranillo ($19.95) and Petite Sirah ($21.95) from Pierce Ranch Vineyards rank among my favorite wines in the county. This year is no different. The 2012 releases are standouts, along with the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95). The 2011 Zinfandel ($21.95) is also a treat—rich and full-bodied, with deep, dark fruit flavors (berry compote, red cherry and black plum).

Pierce Ranch Vineyards wines

Pierce Ranch Vineyards wines

If you’re in the Monterey Bay area, be sure to visit Pierce Ranch Vineyards’ tasting room at 499 Wave St. in Monterey, between Cannery Row and Lighthouse Avenue. And if you like live music with your wine, the tasting room is the place to be. It features a Sunday Jazz Series from 4-6 p.m.; $5 cover, ages 21+. For night-dwellers, the tasting room also features live music on selected Friday and Saturday nights.

Check out the event schedule at or for the latest news about music & events, including the upcoming Summer Open House. The Wine Club parties are super-fun too!

And here’s a fun tidbit: Pierce Ranch Vineyards is planning on bringing cheese and charcuterie into the tasting room later this spring!