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.
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.
At Pizza & Wine Bar, more than 15 pizzas treat palates to topping combos that evoke styles from several American regions. Traditional ingredients such as mozzarella cheese and mushrooms share space on pies with Kobe beef, sausage, homemade tomato sauce, and crushed-red-pepper marinara sauce. There's also pastas with freshly made garlic bread, Kobe or chicken sliders with homemade potato chips, and burgers with natural-cut fries. Wine imported from countries such as Spain, Italy, and Australia, as well as imported beer, complements these dishes, with daily happy hour specials. The facility further accommodates guests with daily wine tastings, private parties for up to 50 guests, and delivery to underground pizza bunkers. Flat-screen TVs also create a sports bar atmosphere, with live games shown daily.
For shoppers feeling anxious over deciding among the many wines that line Flask Fine Wines' shelves, just wait a few days. On Thursday and Saturday evenings, the shop hosts a tasting bar that lets patrons sample a vast array of varietals. After sipping a few samples, guests can narrow it down to select a favorite or two, and purchase a full bottle to take home. Those more interested in fine spirits will also find an impressive selection of bourbons, tequilas, and both single-malt and kind-of-dating-someone-malt whiskies.
The edible delights at Enoteca radiate rustic authenticity from the comprehensive menu. Antipasti anchor the easy vibes, so dive finger-first into platters of grilled polenta and wild mushrooms ($13), or beef carpaccio with foie gras ($15). The usual suspects done creatively are all present during subsequent courses, including napoletana pizza heavy with anchovies and garlic ($13), seafood and squid ink risotto ($17), veal scallopine ($27), and the meatless burrata salad with mozzarella, green lentils, roasted beets, and asparagus ($13). Complement the edibles with sippables comprising more than 250 bottles of wine from the 20 regions of Italy in glasses, flights, and quartinos.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition? We offer awesome wines in an elegant, yet relaxed setting; perfect for first dates, happy-hour wine tasting, or just catching up with friends.
Of the products you sell, which are your favorites? You can't beat our wines! We also offer cheese and charcuterie plates, as well as chocolate.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business? We obviously have a lot of passion for wine. Showing people our different wines from the major grape-producing regions of California is very rewarding for us. We like to have a glass of wine and chat, so why not make that our career?
What do you love most about your job? We love meeting new people and teaching people about wine. Hearing the stories that people tell make no two days the same. Making people happy with good wine is also very rewarding.
At Vampire Lounge & Tasting Room, visitors sip vampire-themed pours such as the Chateau de Vampire Rouseanne and Dracula Syrah from the bar's namesake winery, Vampire Vineyards. Its moniker originated from its ties to Transylvania back in the '90s, but even now that its a purely Napa Valley operation, the name still fits. The Vampire Lounge menu also features imported sparkling wines from Je T'aime, as well as bittersweet chocolates, Vampire espresso, and fine teas.