Interview by The Crossroads Carmel
Melissa, what was your first exposure to the wine industry? Did you always know you wanted to work at a winery and tasting bar?
My father is a local Carmel Valley winemaker, so I grew up surrounded by a love of wine. But it wasn’t until I studied in Italy that my passion for wine really ignited. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Morgan for five years now. With Morgan being a local, family-owned winery, I feel right at home.
What makes Morgan wines special?
One thing in particular, I think, makes us special. Morgan was founded in 1982, and many of our customers have followed Dan Morgan Lee’s winemaking journey since then. Those who have, know that Morgan always offers consistency and value. People can depend on Morgan for a quality bottle of wine on a restaurant menu, at their local market, or straight from the source at Taste Morgan.
Which wines are your best sellers? Can you tell us a little bit about them?
That’s a tough one! We have more than 18 different wines, and of course people love them for different reasons. I will say, we are well-known for two of our flagship releases — the Twelve Clones Pinot Noir and the Highland Chardonnay. Both are quintessential SLH varietals, portraying the terroir and quality of the region while remaining affordable.
Where are the grapes sourced?
Morgan’s estate vineyard—the Double L Vineyard—is the only organically grown vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. We also have partnerships with well-known growers throughout Monterey County.
Have you noticed any new wine trends since people are drinking more wine at home?
Time spent at home has encouraged more home cooking and family dining. Whether it’s a casual dinner or a home celebration of a special occasion, wine helps elevate the moment. Morgan has such a wide range of wines to choose from! We offer everything from wine for a casual everyday drink to high end wines to honor the moment.
Should we keep our eyes peeled for any new or limited-edition wines?
Absolutely! We just released our 2017 Double L Pinot Noir which received 96 points from Wine Enthusiast. It’s spicy with rich red fruit and showcases our winemaking team’s hard work. It’s truly the kind of Pinot that first made you fall in love with wine. I also have to mention our new Rose of Grenache—perfect for the summery weather we’ve been having!
How do you hold tastings at Taste Morgan wines at Crossroads Carmel amid the Covid-19 pandemic?
Good question! Our tastings are currently held outdoors. We’ve revamped our patio with socially distanced seating, umbrellas for the sun, and blankets for those foggy Carmel days. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are encouraged due to limited seating. You can visit our website at www.morganwinery.com or give us a call at (831) 626-3700 to make a reservation for our pet-friendly patio.
We’ve all been impacted by Covid. We are grateful to have the support of our loyal Club members, customers, and community. Our main priority has been to let them know we are up to date on all safety regulations, and we are here for them, too.
What membership options are available for wine tasters?
We offer four club options:
—Double L Club – a mix of our estate and single-vineyard wines
—Club Crimson – all red wines
—Club Blanc – all white wines
—Club Highland – a range of our entire portfolio
We are currently working on a Club Exclusive Virtual Tasting to celebrate the September Club release!
Any advice for people navigating this crazy time in our lives?
Early on, a friend told me to take things day-by-day, and not to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. It’s important to be grateful for the things we do have, and to continue to seek out happy moments. Also, pour yourself a glass of wine. You deserve it!
Click here for a link to The Crossroads Carmel article.
Featured article in the Monterey County Herald:
Not unlike that uneasy moment of peeking outside one’s shelter after the storm — or, in this case, while the pandemic persists — our community is beginning to open its doors, as we move into the next phase of reopening the local economy. Among the various businesses easing back into service starting Friday are the winetasting rooms throughout Monterey County...
...When the shelter-in-place order went into effect, Morgan Winery’s Taste Morgan in the Crossroads Shopping Center of Carmel, went from serving wine seven days a week to shuttered. As it eases into “tasting in the time of COVID,” it has condensed its week to three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday — for now.
“We want to do this right, so we’re limiting ourselves to three days, and reservations for three parties per time slot to give people a safe, social distance,” said Jackie Lee, sales administrator for Morgan Winery. “We are fortunate to have both indoor and outdoor seating to adequately accommodate our guests, and those seated outside can bring their dog.”
Reservations, one hour apart, will give guests 45 minutes of wine tasting, and reserve 15 minutes for staff to sanitize the space for the next round. Also, Taste Morgan is supplying disposable masks for patrons who need them, as well as disposable spit buckets and Govino glasses, the “go anywhere, shatterproof, reusable, recyclable” wine glass guests can take with them when they leave.
“Govino glasses don’t give quite the same experience as something in a stem,” said Lee, “but they’re not Solo cups, either. We don’t have to wash or reuse glasses, and customers get to have a really fun, cool memento.”...
From left to right; David Baird of Folktale Winery & Vineyards; Matt Piagari of Joullian Vineyards; and
Sam L. Smith of Morgan Winery
Wine Enthusiast Magazine
By Matt Kettmann
Monterey County is a historic and well-established viticultural region. Grapes sourced throughout the county serve as the backbone for many popular Central Coast cuvées, and the region is home to prestigious subappellations like Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands that are world-renowned for quality. It’s largely a land of tradition, ruled by generational families and corporate concerns that make it hard for new blood to establish itself.
But the Monterey winescape is changing. There’s an electricity buzzing across the county, as a growing contingent of adventurous vintners settles into urban wineries in Salinas and Marina, and established brands enlist the next generation of winemakers. Many have taken a renewed look at the Carmel Valley, while others discover forgotten vinelands that are also influenced by the Monterey Bay, like those in the adjacent San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties.
Unbound by the shackles of convention and attuned to the desires of millennial consumers, this emerging vanguard produces racy, exciting and even avant-garde bottlings, often at stunningly fair prices. Its efforts have reinvigorated respect for this geographically blessed cross section of California, where a diverse array of microclimates and soil types can produce a brilliant rainbow of wine styles.
Click here to read more.