As the years have led to urban expansion, only one Los Angeles winery has stood the test of time. The San Antonio Winery and Restaurant in Lincoln Heights is so beloved as a local drinking institution, it was given cultural monument status in 1966. Since then, the hidden-away winery, down a few side streets in an industrial part of the downtown area, has been quietly serving up glasses of fine wine from their Italian-style villa. Terracotta roofs and tall greenery line the exterior of this operational winery, which has been bottling since 1917. Free wine tastings and tours are available daily, and the attached Maddalena restaurant serves homey Italian food.
Los Angeles Oktoberfest invites visitors to celebrate the changing seasons with two days of traditional Bavarian revelry. Hosted by Bob Guiney from ABC's The Bachelor, the festival invites attendees to fill their glass steins with any of the 19 available German beers and purchase hearty platefuls of bratwurst, giant pretzels, and strudel. Live bands lead traditional, sing-along drinking tunes, a Bavarian dance group performs for joyous audiences, and a strolling accordionist weaves through the crowds while playing familiar German melodies. In addition to bidding on sports memorabilia at the silent-auction table, patrons can also test their arm strength by competing in the stein-holding competition, which rewards the winners with lifetime admission to the Los Angeles Oktoberfest and a brand new pair of steel biceps to replace the old, used-up ones.
With a mission to educate consumers on the mystifying subtleties of wine, Learn About Wine hosts more than 100 classes, trade tastings, and consumer events each year. Since its beginnings in 1995, the organization has helped more than 50,000 students deepen their appreciation and understanding of the old-world drink through socially centered programs and refined, but approachable wine-education classes. Wine Camp – An Introduction to Wine, the company's introductory course and one of its most popular offerings, encourages guests to absorb wine-drinking terminology and critical lessons in storing and serving. Regional tours lead groups through various growing regions, allowing visitors to observe processes such as fermenting and picking bottles at the peak of glossiness. Click here for a complete listing of program types.
Oenophiles flock to the Colorado Wine Company in Eagle Rock, looking to buy high-quality wines for under $25. They also come in to sip wine by the glass, with a rotating selection of pours between $5 and $12. Each day, Colorado Wine puts together four white and reds to taste inside the dark, woody space, where a long wall of wine bottles stands in as the primary focus of the room. Not to be outdone, beer lovers can also enjoy a rotating variety of six different beers on tap, often featuring Southern California breweries. Cheese plates are available for quick noshing, and on Friday nights from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. the shop offers reduced-price flights with complimentary cheese accompaniment for under $20. Regulars can also indulge in their Wine of the Month Club, which makes sitting inside the cozy space all the more enjoyable.
A quick perusal of Buon Gusto's classic Italian menu induces immediate mouth watering without so much as a Pavlovian peal. Start off with flavorful appetizers such as crab cakes with lobster sauce ($6.95), bruschetta ($5.50), and a belly-warming bowl of pastina in brodo (chicken broth with pasta; $7.50). With your appetite aptly antipastoed, try out pasta dishes such as the fusilla all fantasia, a flying dragon ride through toasted pine nuts, cream, brandy, shallots, and gorgonzola ($12.50), and the penne all' amalfi with roasted peppers and pink sauce ($11.50). Sink seafaring pearlies into the linguine with clam or mussels ($17.50) or opt for the alla paillard, tender veal kissed with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon ($17.95). Buon Gusto also offers pizzas, calzones, and family-style dinners, just right for patrons who prefer to control the migratory patterns of their dinner plates.
Cozy candlelight and flickering lanterns cast soft shadows in 55 Degree Wine’s cellar, where waiters eagerly pair customers’ palates with weekly rotating wines. Featured on Best of LA Weekly in 2012 for its wine program, the winery stocks more than 2,000 labels, of which up to 60 are spotlighted in the cellar’s monthly lineup of pours. Though most vintages are Italian, ambrosias from Europe, South America, and other far-flung climes find homes in the shop after being tasted and approved by store owners. The thermostat, appropriately set to 55 degrees, helps keep elixirs fresh and patrons comfortable, but guests may wish to bring a sweater or particularly affectionate bear.