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.
Eighty-one-thousand vines grow across Malibu Family Wines' 90-acre vineyard, producing eight varietals in total, including cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, and malbec. Once bottled and corked, many of the vineyard's Semler and Saddlerock wines end up at the tasting room in Los Olivos, a homey space with indoor and outdoor seating, occasional live music, and a large wooden tasting bar where customers are free to smell, sample, and swirl away. Those who enjoy the wines can rejoice knowing there's more where that came from—the vineyard expects to increase its vine total to 100,000 in the near future.
The DoubleTree Irvine Spectrum puts a holiday spin on food, wine, and entertainment for Santa's Wine & Food Lovers Holiday Bash. Winemakers serve samples of premium boutique wines, pouring unlimited sips while elucidating the subtleties of their varietals. Meanwhile, chef Louis Giraud assembles two-bite appetizers, which are then dispatched throughout the room by convivial servers. The party vendors also supply samples of gourmet chocolates, cakes, olive oils, and energy drinks. Tucked into various corners, jewelers and retailers peddle artisan goods, and a tarot reader lends insight on future events. Guests who want to spread holiday cheer can bring an unwrapped toy, which will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Wine expert Richard Belloff collects striking wines from across the planet to adorn the racks at Bellavino Wine Bar & Restaurant, winner of Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence for the last seven years in a row as well as the Ventura County Star's 2013 Readers' Choice award for best wine bar. Bellavino also hosts a variety of classes and events each month, inviting others to learn about their cellar's impressive selection.
Beneath the high, glittering lights of the dining room, a full menu of bar bites, entrees, cheeses, and charcuterie complement wines by the glass and bottle. At the wine bar, Chilean Apaltagua pinot noir and Sierra Madre chardonnay dance modestly inside glasses to the soundtrack of live musical acts playing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Justin Tatum, head winemaker for Malibu Rocky Oaks, has produced hundreds of wines during his career. A gold medal from the San Francisco International Wine Competition adorns the winery’s 2010 syrah. A 91-point rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine attests to the strengths of a 2009 cabernet reserve, which the reviewer said “has plenty of elegant red plum and anise, and its tannins are present but not overwhelming.” At J. Hamilton Wines, Justin shares his knowledge of the winemaking process, covering a grape's journey from the vine to a year backpacking in Europe to find itself to the bottle. During the class, chatter fills the winery as he shows winemaking in action and answers questions on barreling, lab equipment, and bottling.