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.
Agua Dulce Winery unfurls its trellised vines and winemaking facilities across 90 acres of the Sierra Pelona Valley, effectively extending wine country a few hundred miles south. The grapes rely on the region's cool evening breezes and alluvial soils to maintain the earthy, peppery flavors and restrained acidity that characterize the region's wines. Medium- and high-toasted barrels from France, Hungary, and the United States each lend their own influence to the freshly fermented creations, aging the juice and subtly tweaking the flavorful interplay of rich fruit and restrained spice.
Gennaro’s Ristorante has managed to stay open for nearly 30 years not only because of its menu of Italian pastas and grilled meats, but also because of its dedication to Italian-style hospitality. When guests first enter the eatery, they head to the sitting room—a cozy area with marble flooring where they can sit beside a roaring fire and sip Italian wines and creative cocktails from the bar.
They then head into the dining room for a night of devouring meticulously prepared entrees, such as pork medallions with a green-peppercorn-and-cognac sauce, or tagliolini pasta with squid, shrimp, and mussels. The inclusive restaurant caters to all types, offering a vegan menu and gluten-free options. While patrons eat, performers soothe the ears with classical piano or guitar music or gentle earlobe rubs.
At Left Coast Wine Bar & Gallery, an eclectic mix gathers to sample more than 400 wines from California, South America, and Europe and admire works from local artists. Visitors clink bottles of craft beer or glasses of malbec and sweet chardonnays while jazz, rock, and open-mic performances fill the air with music seven nights a week. The outdoor patio treats revelers to fresh air as they savor Italian and French cheeses or munch on grilled panini sandwiches. A cozy upstairs loft provides an intimate setting for singer-songwriters to serenade guests with acoustic versions of popular ringtones.