Travel

A Vegan Wine Escape to Monterey County

A short drive from San Francisco, Monterey County is quickly becoming a vegan haven for wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Just 120 miles south of San Francisco, rising star wine region Monterey County is home not only to some of Northern California’s ritziest wellness destinations (Post Ranch Inn, Bernardus) but also to a residential-casual side with an impressive amount of low-key vegan dining. Layer in small production vegan wines and homey spa spots, and the beach town of Monterey is a perfect, under-the-radar home base for a weekend hideaway of wine and and wellness.
 
Wine
De Tierra Vineyards
Eco-certified, biodynamic, solar-powered, organic, and vegan, De Tierra is a great illustration of the progressiveness of family-owned Monterey wineries. A downtown tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea is worth a trip over from Monterey town, or visit the estate vineyard for an overnight and unplugged stay in their Vineyard Suites.
 
Folktale Vineyards and Winery
Folktale’s 16 glorious acres of Monterey vineyards that produce this winery’s totally vegan wines also play host to spirited community events nearly every day. Weekends feature live music, as well as games in the garden and yoga in the vines. A $15 all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday is the perfect excuse for a mid-week wine-tasting escape, and regular workshops such as Esalen Institute’s recent mindfulness workshop are a reason to keep an eye on Folktale’s events calendar.
 
Figge Cellars
Partnering with local family vineyards to source small-lot, high-quality fruit, Figge Cellars is a multi-sensory must. Located inside Winefield Gallery in Carmel-by-the-Sea, vegan wines are poured from a small tasting bar surrounded by rotating exhibitions of contemporary works on canvas and paper, as well as sculpture and design objects.
 
Wellness
Wave Street Wellness
Juice, coffee, excellent massages by Esalen-trained therapists, and an under-the-radar apartment rental one block from the Pacific Ocean are just a few of the offerings at Wave Street Wellness. The team has a few vegans on staff and knows the plant-based scene better than anyone else in town.
 
Yoga Sanctuary by the Sea
Yoga Sanctuary by the Sea’s three locations all offer a true beachside yoga experience. Instructors are talented, with classes ranging from beginner to creative and advanced. The relaxing vibe of the classroom alone will lower your blood pressure … and make you want to have a glass of local wine afterward.
 
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
This is the real reason people visit Monterey. Fourteen trails covering six miles range from easy strolls to climbs with a view. If you’re doing just one, catch the North Shore trailhead and hike 1.4 miles to views of the sea lion coves below. And don’t forget to pack a vegan picnic basket. We won’t tell if that includes a bottle of regional vino!
 
Dining
Happy Girl Kitchen Co.
For a pre-yoga caffeine fix or a post-yoga brunch and gift stop, Happy Girl Kitchen Co. serves the most decadent vegan breakfast pastry in town. The seasonal vegan scone is served right out of the oven during breakfast, and can be ordered slathered with your favorite Happy Girl jam.
 
Julia’s
This teeny vegan restaurant hidden in the corner of a nondescript strip mall is led by a self-taught chef who’s also an expert on local produce. Reservations are recommended due to the eatery’s size and slow turnover in the evening, and it’s BYO so you can bring any wine collected from a day of tasting!
 
El Cantaro Vegan Mexican Restaurant
El Cantaro’s husband-and-wife proprietors keep this order-at-the-counter, vegan eatery buzzing day and night with plant-based versions of Mexican classics from Oaxacan and Mexico City. A section of the menu devoted to traditional plates includes two different kinds of moles, chile rellenos, and its “famous” Chile en Ahogada. 
 
Stay
InterContinental Clement Monterey
If you prefer fuller service amenities or indulging in a newly renovated water-front spa, the InterContinental Clement Monterey is the perfect homebase. Located on Cannery Row and perched on the water, it’s the most luxurious and contemporary property in town.
 
Spindrift Inn
If historic seaside charm is more your speed, the Victorian Spindrift Inn’s gorgeously preserved architecture and cozy in-room fireplaces create a true hideaway feel. The vegan version of the continental breakfast included in the room might not be hearty enough to power a morning full of hiking, but a walk to Wavestreet is an easy five minutes. 
 
Margaux Lushing is the founder of healthy travel site Well + Away and spends her weekends road tripping around California for Pinot Noir and vineyard yoga.

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