Eighty-one-thousand vines grow across Malibu Family Wines' 90-acre vineyard, producing eight varietals in total, including cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, and malbec. Once bottled and corked, many of the vineyard's Semler and Saddlerock wines end up at the tasting room in Los Olivos, a homey space with indoor and outdoor seating, occasional live music, and a large wooden tasting bar where customers are free to smell, sample, and swirl away. Those who enjoy the wines can rejoice knowing there's more where that came from—the vineyard expects to increase its vine total to 100,000 in the near future.
Bernard's Wine Gallery, a wine store with thousands of old and rare fine wines for sale, welcomes both wine neophytes and grizzled oenophiles to sip from its fine vat of liquefied vinefruits. Bernard Rosenson, who owns Bernard's Wine Gallery with his wife Cynthia, also owns Coquelicot Estate Vineyard, the organically farmed vineyard featured in this tasting. Six Coquelicot wines preside in the elegant tasting room, including the 2006 Bordeaux Blend, which won a gold medal at the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition for its dark, complex taste. Guests will swirl and sip in luxury, blissfully whisking away memories of Twilight Zone episodes where clubs of giant wine bottles attended a human tasting. Tastings run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Brittany Rice is a Renaissance woman: a poet, photographer, and culinary expert, she has managed to combine her love for artistic expression in Millésimé Cellars Winery & Tasting Room. After learning the wine business first from her family’s winery and then from a culinary academy, Brittany decided to honor the tradition of libations by making her own Old-World–style wines. In that vein, she ages her vinos longer than most contemporary wineries or families who simply forget about the bottle of merlot stashed behind their washing machine.
Made from organic grapes from surrounding Santa Barbara vineyards, Brittany’s wines are smooth and full of flavor. Her cache includes a 2006 Bleu Saphir comprised of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, and 15% cabernet franc, as well as a 2007 Scoprire made from 48% syrah, 29% mourvèdre, 13% cabernet franc, and 10% cabernet sauvignon. Brittany complements her artful flavor bouquets and makes her wares truly unique by placing her own photography on the labels and describing the winery's creations with poetic tasting notes.
The combined artistry of nine generations of Czech winemakers built Herzog Wine Cellars. The Herzog family's rich wine-making history dates back to late 19th-century Czechoslovakia, when Philip Herzog plied his craft for the Austro-Hungarian court. Legend has it that Emperor Franz-Josef loved Philip's wines so much, he made him a baron—a title commemorated in the winery's current Baron Herzog label.
Inside a modern facility nestled within the strawberry fields and farms of Oxnard, California, head winemaker Joe Hurliman crafts shimmering whites and dusky reds in the kosher Jewish and California traditions. Hurliman only uses grapes sourced from California vineyards, blending different varieties to conjure new tastes and aromas. This mixing and fermenting transforms bushels into the cellar's two lines of wine, which include special reserve and late-harvest bottles. Outside this laboratory, cathedral-like ceilings hang over a granite tasting bar where, during tastings, staff teach visitors how to identify delicate flavors and ensure no one replaced the real wine with boring grape juice. The grounds also feature private tasting rooms, a boutique, and an outdoor terrace.
Inside the winery's Zagat-praised restaurant, Tierra Sur, executive chef Gabriel Garcia crafts kosher gourmet meals. Using seasonal and locally sourced produce from area farms, he mingles American flavors into artfully presented entrees and small plates. An outdoor wood-fired grill sears aged rib-eye steaks, simmers cuts of wild salmon, and puts old snowmen out to pasture.
Wine expert Richard Belloff collects striking wines from across the planet to adorn the racks at Bellavino Wine Bar & Restaurant, winner of Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence for the last seven years in a row as well as the Ventura County Star's 2013 Readers' Choice award for best wine bar. Bellavino also hosts a variety of classes and events each month, inviting others to learn about their cellar's impressive selection.
Beneath the high, glittering lights of the dining room, a full menu of bar bites, entrees, cheeses, and charcuterie complement wines by the glass and bottle. At the wine bar, Chilean Apaltagua pinot noir and Sierra Madre chardonnay dance modestly inside glasses to the soundtrack of live musical acts playing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.