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.
The knowledgeable staff at Camarillo Custom Crush Winery teaches aspiring vintners how to craft their own corked concoctions. During the winecrafting session, vino virtuosos will show students how to guide grapes through the rite of passage to become an adult beverage. Oenophiles can also tour the premises and sample selections that have matured to swirl-worthy standards, including Spectrum Cellars and Malibu Rocky Oaks varieties. Grow in wine wisdom within Camarillo Custom Crush's warm space, which is adorned with wine bottles and wooden wine barrels, and learn how to differentiate a chardonnay from a chianti without help from a bribed label.
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.
Mike and Chris Brown's story of Cantara Cellars starts as many success stories do: with a humble beginning. Back in 2002, the husband and wife team started off with just 250 pounds of chardonnay grapes that had been hand-picked from Mike's parents' vineyard in Lodi, which eventually transformed into their first 18 gallons of wine. And like most creative endeavors, the winemaking was a labor of love, something the couple doted upon, developed, and refined over the coming years. In 2007, once they had accumulated a huge amount of knowledge—and inventory of wine—the tasting room opened to the public, where visitors could relax, snack on small plates, and enjoy vinos by the ounce, full glass, or bottle. These days, Cantara works with more than 50 tons of harvested grapes each fall, and crafts more than 10 varietals throughout the year.