Handcrafted, full-bodied wines are the standard at Orange Coast Winery, where head winemaker Doug Wiens creates a number of varietals with grapes sourced from across the state. At the new Ocean Cellar tasting room in Corona Del Mar, visitors are invited to partake in luxurious seated wine tastings, where they sample a variety of the fermented fruits of Wiens' labor. Available throughout the season, some varietals include a Syrah reserve, a spicy Tempranillo, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and 2011 & 2012 reserve Cabernet Sauvignons.
Befitting its name to the letter, California Wine & Cheese exclusively celebrates the work of artisan wineries and creameries all over California. The California-centric collection includes more than 100 different wines, many of which appear in a floor-to-ceiling wine rack that fills almost an entire wall with horizontally arranged bottles. Behind the shop's bar, the staff pours more than 50 of these labels by the glass and the flight, allowing visitors to taste everything from chardonnay to zinfandel. Selections range from a diverse collection of white and reds, which are both available for guests to try.
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.
To Master Chef Massimo Navarretta—who grew up farming and wine-making in Campania, Italy—it makes little sense to separate wine from food. At his eatery Onotria, which received Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence in 2011 and 2012, he groups dishes on the menu by wine pairing, rather than by main ingredient or ability to be balanced on the tip of a tiny dessert spoon. Seafood-based plates, such as prosciutto-wrapped tiger shrimp or poached octopus with artichokes, complement a glass of dry, sparkling white wine. Lightly breaded pork medallions accompany a light, dry red, while hearty lamb chops or filet go with a bolder varietal such as zinfandel or merlot. These dishes can serve as tasting plates for groups, entrees for individuals, or finger food for visiting giants.
To create the seasonal menu, the kitchen uses hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, as well as organic and biodynamic ingredients. Meals are served under a high-peaked ceiling with wooden rafters, in a dining room with exposed-brick columns and mottled walls that echo the look of an old-country trattoria.
Twenty-four wine bottles line the circumference of two stainless-steel cylinders, both of which add a futuristic flourish to the middle of the room. With the touch of a button, the machine dispenses a 1-ounce sample of any of the wines—red at room temperature, whites at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Praised on Foodbeast, this self-serve tasting bar, called the Enomatic wine system, lets guests sample an array of wines before committing to a long-term relationship with a single—or several—bottles. This method is just one of several ways OC Wine Mart & Tasting Bar owner Julie Lim takes the intimidation out of wine buying.
At her boutique wine store, Julie fills the shelves with vintages from both well-known and under-the-radar vineyards, with some of her favorites including Silver Oak Cellars, Caymus Vineyards, and Cakebread Cellars. She and her team thrive on helping guests find the best bottle—whether they're hunting for wine, craft beer, or a fine liquor. Once guests feel confident in their selections, the staff can help them compile gift baskets for holiday parties or year-end performance reviews. Committed to green practices, the staff eschews foam packaging in favor of molded-pulp shippers, derived from 100% recycled materials. Such practices earned Julie a place on OC Metro's list of 20 Women to Watch, plus her boutique a place on Gayot's Top 10 Wine Bars in the United States.
Modern French Bistro | Local Ingredients | Seasonal Menus | Cosmopolitan Vibe | Covered Patio
While You're Waiting
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Covet luxury apparel from renowned designers such as Hermès and Valentino at the South Coast Plaza shopping center (3333 Bristol Street).
After: Sip a craft cocktail with local trendsetters at Mesa (725 Baker Street).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This Pinot Provence (686 Anton Boulevard), another upscale spot specializing in seasonal French cuisine.