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.
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.
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.
This lively, intimate wine bar is adjacent – and actually connected through a narrow doorway – to its Brazilian sibling Tropicalia on Hillhurst Avenue. A sleek wooden bar and warm brick walls flank shiny Enomatic pouring machines, while a giant chalkboard nearby lists roughly 45 rotating specials. It’s generally packed, especially on weekends, with a vivacious crowd of upscale Los Feliz denizens who enjoy wines by the glass that range from moderate (for a nice Spanish grenache) to fairly expensive (a velvety Venetian amarone). The list of Italian bottles is impressive and well-priced, with an especially full range of Chianti, brunello and barolos. Some Brazilian menu offerings carry over from next door, including a burger, ribs, fish and braised pork, but the food mostly matches the Italian wines, with a large selection of Italian antipasti, simple salumi and cheese.
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.
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.