Chowder and Vino in Monterey

An annual favorite spotlights both sips and creamy soups.

WHAT LIBATION... is loveliest with a bowl of chowder? It's kind of a trick question, as we didn't specify the type of chowder. Is it a traditional New England stew? Or more a tomato-laden Manhattan? Or is it an all-together different spin on the hearty seafood classic? Again, those are kind of trick questions, as the reality is this: Chowder itself is a bit of a libation. It's so easy to sip straight from the bowl's lip, especially once you've worked through all the bits of clam and shrimp and oyster and those soak-up-the-flavor crackers. You want to get to the broth, and you're going to tip your bowl before your mouth to do so. BUT, and that's an all-caps, slightly shouty BUT, the fact is also this: Wine remains one of chowder's BFFs, especially here in California, a place that matches up coastal chowder eating with the regional wineries that aren't too far from the shore. One of the most prominent of these pair-ups is just ahead, in Monterey, and it is called...

THE MONTEREY WINE FESTIVAL: For sure, a whole host of area vineyards will set up cork-cool shop around the historic Customs House Plaza, including Oak Ridge Winery, Martin Ray Winery, and Quady Winery. Beerhouses shall be on the grounds, too, if suds by the shore -- or near the shore -- is your jam. As for the Chowdah Celebration? That's on Saturday, June 4, the middle day of the three-day festival. And if you're more about the calamari, stick around on Sunday, June 5 when the popular appetizer is the center of the supping action. 

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