Benchmark Wineries


A significant, longtime presence in the Carmel Valley AVA, Bernardus produces excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and a red Bordeaux blend, from its estate vineyard in that region. 


The vineyard features the oldest Chenin Blanc vines in Monterey County. Dick Graff bought the property in the 1960s, revitalizing it and also revolutionizing California winemaking with techniques such as malolactic fermentation and small-barrel fermentation and aging.

Pierce Vineyards

Pierce is the leading producer of high-quality wines from the San Antonio Valley AVA.


Arguably the first producer/grower to aspire to making world-class Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands. The Pisoni family put Monterey County wine on the map for sommeliers and avid consumers. Their estate vineyard may be the most distinctive in the AVA due to its high altitude and the varying terroirs of its blocks. 


Roar is the label for one of the members of the Franscioni family, an important name  in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. The Franscionis own two vineyards, Rosella’s and Sierra Mar, and co-own two others, Garys’ and Soberanes, with the Pisoni family.

Scheid Vineyards

Scheid was one of the first companies to plant a large vineyard in Monterey County. Now they have 17 estate vineyards throughout the county, offering a broad portfolio of blends and varietals.

Talbott Vineyards

Talbott, located in a very cool zone, far north within the Santa Lucia Highlands, has one of the county’s most famous and respected Chardonnay vineyards, Sleepy Hollow. Robb Talbott planted it in 1972.

Wente Vineyards (Riva Ranch)

Wente, based in Livermore Valley (Alameda County) is the state’s oldest, continuously operated, family-owned winery. It is also the winery with the longest significant presence in Monterey County. The Wente family began planting Chardonnay in Arroyo Seco in 1962.