Thanks to Southern California's dry summer days and cool nights, the grapes around Antelope Valley Winery enjoy a long growing season with ideal temperatures and conditions. This translates into a variety of wines that run the gamut from robust reds to sweet sparkling concoctions perfect for toasting raisins who escaped the press. And although wine is Antelope Valley Winery's main focus, it's not their only one. In addition, they sell grass-fed buffalo meat hailed for its low-cholesterol goodness, and run a farmers' market from May through November, where shoppers can pick up exotic meats, organic juice, and locally-made goat cheese.
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.
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.
The Parlour stocks its chic, exposed-brick bistro space with a Bacchanalian bounty of elegant, hand-selected wines. Its impressive by-the-bottle list boasts more than 200 wines from around the globe, categorized by type and country of origin. If this leviathan list seems too daunting, wizened staff members are on hand to make masterful suggestions. The shorter by-the-glass list streamlines the assortment down to approximately 30 wines, ports, and imported beers (starting at $6) to team up with The Parlour's seasonal menu, like Tom and Jerry when they fight that pesky bulldog, Spike.
Though freedom to choose your own pairings is good for believers in true love and eclectic décor, professionally paired flavor combos showcase the best qualities of each ingredient. A retail shop outfitted with a handsome tasting bar, California Wine and Cheese stocks wines produced exclusively in California, regularly consisting of over 200 selections. Wine flights consist of four to five samplings and change every Friday, giving customers a chance to gain a broad appreciation for all kinds of wine. If you've already sampled one or more wines from the flight, just wait a week and new choices of red or white wine will magically appear. To complement the characteristics of each wine, a sampling of imported and domestic cheeses accompanies each flight. Because California Wine and Cheese sells the goods to take home, you can purchase the wines and cheeses you like best to re-create the pairings at home for dinner guests and culinarily curious cats.
Named after its spot in the shadow of the Santa Anita Racetrack, One Hundred to One evens the odds with a no-frills selection of beers and spirits. Float toward camaraderie-laden coves borne on the sudsy currents of Budweiser, Amber Bock, or Shock Top draught pitchers (starting at $7.50). Or listen for the sound of ocean waves and subliminal messages from Sting by putting your mouth and ear to international bottles ($4.25), including Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, and Dos Equis. Parched partiers can also place their fermented fate in the hands of one of One Hundred to One's merrymaking mixologists, sating thirsts with cocktails constructed of blithe spirits including Belvedere ($6.75), Crown Royal ($5.75), and Bombay Sapphire ($5.75).