At this self-described urban microwinery, vintners crush, age, and bottle their own vintages using local California grapes. Inside its capacious cellars, juices from grapes grown in regions such as Paso Robles, Napa, and Sonoma age in oak barrels. The resulting vintages are available for purchase onsite, online, or through a nearby genie, and also fill glasses Thursday?Sunday in the attached tasting room. There, patrons can meander through rows of barrels, stop to rest their glass on a granite-topped bar, and on nicer days, catch a salt-sprinkled breeze through the open warehouse door.
Beside the Rhine River in Germany or in sun-soaked fields in Tuscany and California, vines grow heavy with ripe fruit. These jewel-toned morsels fill bottles at PRP Wine International, whose consultants then share the global terroir during special events and private tastings at home. Each staff member has a library of facts about wine production and consumption on the tip of their tongue, as well as several varieties of corkscrews hanging from their mandated utility belt. An online shop organizes varietals, such as montepulciano and gewürztraminer, by their taste profile and country of origin, and sparkling wines are searchable by price point. To deepen their client's connection to their favorite bottle, they may either be etched or emblazoned with custom labels that commemorate an event or deliver a dry thank you.
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 "secret" in Bacchus' Secret Cellar is gas. Argon gas, to be exact, which powers the bar's preservation system and ensures that the wines within stay fresh for long periods of time. There are about 50 wines—mostly reds—on tap at the counter, as well as 8 sparkling wines, 5 dessert wines, and 12 microbrews. The library of options encourages guests to sample several, so it's wise to order a flight: you can get a signature array of 2.5-ounce glasses, or you can compose your own for a unique harmony of tastes.
The bar is just the beginning of the cellar's wine selection. On the shelves that span the walls, more than 350 labels beckon to be uncorked. A bistro menu provides gourmet food to complement sips, from starters of oven-roasted dates to lamb burgers and prosciutto flatbreads, made by dropping a regular loaf of bread into a printing press by accident. There's also a full menu of cheeseboards, with goat, cow, and sheep cheeses from the United States and abroad.
Cuisine Type: French
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 26
Parking: Metered street parking
Most popular offering: Crepes, brunch, traditional French fare
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout Only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
What is one of your most popular offerings? How is it prepared?
Creme Benedict for brunch. It's a traditional egg Benedict served over real crab and caramelized onions. Filet mignon for dinner prepared with a choice of six made-to-order sauces.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
The atmosphere is a slice of Paris in downtown Long Beach, an authentique French cafe. Fine dining in a casual atmosphere.
Do you use any family recipes at your restaurant? Whose family do they belong to (the chef, the owner, or someone else)?
All recipes are those of a successful restaurant owner from France who has relocated to California.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
We have an extensive selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desert items all made fresh from scratch upon order. Many gluten free and vegetarian options.
A warm breeze wafts over the iron chairs and benches gathered under palm trees. Lights glow on the airy porches of the buildings across the courtyard. Inside, guests clink wineglasses under a spiral of white string lights, surrounded by bistro tables topped with floral arrangements and tall wooden wine racks. CA Wine Room's outdoor and indoor seating immerses visitors in an intimate atmosphere inspired by the state's coastal and Spanish roots.
CA Wine Room's wine director, Noah Buffet, extends this local focus to his menu: he features only California wines and specializes in smaller batches from family wineries. The selection spans cabernets, chardonnays, and zinfandels from the coast of Mendocino County, Napa Valley, and the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, and there's a handful of California craft beers on tap as well. Live music often complements drinking here: guest musicians, including pianists, monkeys with accordions, and folk bands, play each Thursday, and the lounge hosts live jazz every Saturday night.