From Artichokes to Zinfandels: Explore These California Culinary Trails

From artichokes to Zinfandels there are many areas of the Golden State to explore, and to taste.
From artichokes to Zinfandels there are many areas of the Golden State to explore, and to taste.

Spring is a wonderful time to explore California’s many culinary trails. From artichokes to Zinfandels there are many areas of the Golden State to explore, and to taste. 

A is for Artichoke 

Monterey County Artichoke Trail 


Embark on a culinary adventure along the Monterey County Artichoke Trail, a journey celebrating California’s cherished state vegetable.  

With more than 40 enticing stops, including restaurants, farm stands and attractions, the trail invites visitors to explore ways to savor the artichoke. Start in the “Artichoke Capital of the World,” Castroville, and meander down Highway 1 through Moss Landing, Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach.  

Explore immersive artichoke farm tours and savor innovative culinary creations, from artichoke cupcakes to burgers and cocktails. Nearly 100 percent of America’s fresh artichoke supply is grown in California and nearly two-thirds is grown in the small town of Castroville making it a must-visit for food enthusiasts.

Among the highlights 

The Giant Artichoke Restaurant 

11261 Merritt St., Castroville 95012 

This restaurant is more than 50 years old. My family and I visited this restaurant several times in the early 1990s on camping trips along the California coast. We loved the deep-fried artichoke hearts. Grab a bag for the road and dip them in Ranch dressing!

Artichoke Festival June 8-9 

Monterey County Fair & Event Center, 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Monterey 93940 


The annual Artichoke Festival features culinary adventures, music, wine tasting and a featured celebrity chef.

Pezzini Farm Walk 

460 Nashua Road, Castroville  95012 


Get up close and personal with artichokes in a commercial farming operation. Walking tours are available Monday to Friday (8 – 9:30 a.m.). Other times are available.  

Learn about the Salinas Valley agriculture industry, otherwise known as the “Salad Bowl of the World.” Observe and discuss fresh vegetable production with a focus on artichokes. The walking tour ends with a complimentary tasting of either an artichoke cupcake or deep-fried artichoke hearts. There is also free time for shopping in the Pezzini store. This walking tour covers approximately 0.2 miles with no hills and restrooms are easily available.

The Choke Coach Food Truck 

Find them 

If you’ve always wanted to try an artichoke po’boy sandwich with a side of fried artichokes adobo or artichoke tacos, steamed artichokes and a variety of other specials visit The Choke Coach in Castroville.

Z is for Zinfandel 

A Treasure Trove of Zinfandels 


For a memorable trip through California “gold country” history while sipping a treasure trove of Zinfandels, head to Murphys in Calaveras County. 

In Murphys, south of Lake Tahoe, you will find a well-preserved gold mining town with a quaint main street featuring dozens of wine tasting rooms, pubs, restaurants and lounges.  

Explore the pioneer lore of the Murphy brothers, wagon trains, prospectors, and fortune-seekers that also became the subjects of essays by literary icons Mark Twain and Bret Harte. 

If you stay at the historic Murphys Hotel in Murphys you’ll be able to walk to these popular tasting spots. The hotel has been in operation since 1856.

Downtown Murphys Highlights 

Hovey Winery Tasting Room, Wine Garden 

350 Main St., Murphys 95247 


Don’t miss the signature Hovey Zinfandel from the steep slope of the Dragone Ranch vineyard, a Calaveras classic.

Newsome Harlow Wines 

403 Main St., Murphys 95247 


This family operation sources prime Zinfandel from several noteworthy vineyards including Shake Ridge, Dalton Ranch and Roland Rosario. With five single vineyard Zins, Newsome Harlow has established itself as a leader of the Zin category in Calaveras. And, every label has a vineyard story.

Hatcher Winery Downtown Tasting Room 

425 Main St., Murphys 95247 


Brothers Matt and Sewell Hatcher grow and produce five Zinfandels from their estate in nearby Angels Camp and other surrounding vineyards.

Milliaire Winery 

276 Main St., Murphys 95247 


Specializing in Zinfandels from the historic Ghirardelli Vineyard in Calaveras County and the famed Clockspring Vineyard in Shenandoah Valley, Amador.

Stevenot Winery Wine Lounge & Tasting Bar 

458 Main St. #3, Murphys 95247 


Established in 1978, Stevenot is one California’s premier boutique wineries at the heart of the Sierra Foothills. Wine, gold, history, and heritage all contribute to the rich and colorful tradition embodied by Stevenot Winery.

 Explore California Culinary Trails 

A variety of culinary and beverage experiences await Santa Clarita Valley residents who are looking for experiences beyond the ordinary sightseeing side trips and vacation destinations. 

Here are a few more to consider: 

Gilroy Taco Trail 

Though Gilroy may be best known for its garlic, the town is also home to over 25 tasty taquerias and family-owned Mexican restaurants that are popular with residents and visitors alike. Download a copy of the Gilroy Taco Trail map at and plan a Gilroy taco-tasting tour to discover Gilroy’s best tacos, burritos, enchiladas and other Mexican fare.

Santa Maria Valley’s Tacos, Beer and Barbecue Trail 

Santa Maria-style barbecue, the West Coast’s answer to southern brisket and ribs, isn’t the only must-have delicacy in Santa Maria Valley. The Tacos, Beer and Barbecue Map, found at, highlights the best tacos, brews and ‘cues on the Central Coast, featuring long-beloved spots like Maya Mexican Restaurant, The Hitching Post in Casmalia and Naughty Oak Brewing Company. Not only are there 32 locations on the map, but most are within a short walking or driving distance from each other.

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