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.
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.
Nestled inside the Bonaventure Hotel, experienced masseuses maintain 10,000 square feet of pure serenity spread across 11 treatment rooms. Cordoned off into sections for men and women, the facility flaunts amenities such as hydro-jet showers with seven pulsing showerheads and saunas fogged with soothing vapor instead of fog machines stolen from middle-school dances. Bonaventure Club plucks massage techniques from all over the globe, including Thailand where therapists stretch frames with their hands, knees, and feet to amplify the client's flexibility and energy. Pre- or post-treament, clients can unwind in a relaxation lounge stocked with Perrier water, jasmine-rose tea, and snacks, while flipping through magazines or watching a big-screen TV.
The combined artistry of nine generations of Czech winemakers built Herzog Wine Cellars. The Herzog family's rich wine-making history dates back to late 19th-century Czechoslovakia, when Philip Herzog plied his craft for the Austro-Hungarian court. Legend has it that Emperor Franz-Josef loved Philip's wines so much, he made him a baron?a title commemorated in the winery's current Baron Herzog label.
Inside a modern facility nestled within the strawberry fields and farms of Oxnard, California, head winemaker Joe Hurliman crafts shimmering whites and dusky reds in the California tradition. Hurliman only uses grapes sourced from California vineyards, blending different varieties to conjure new tastes and aromas. This mixing and fermenting transforms bushels into the cellar's two lines of wine, which include special reserve and late-harvest bottles. Outside this laboratory, cathedral-like ceilings hang over a granite tasting bar where, during tastings, staff teach visitors how to identify delicate flavors and ensure no one replaced the real wine with boring grape juice. The grounds also feature private tasting rooms, a boutique, and an outdoor terrace.
Inside the restaurant with the highest Zagat food rating in Ventura County, Tierra Sur, executive chef Gabriel Garcia crafts New American cuisine. Using seasonal and locally sourced produce from area farms, he mingles American flavors into artfully presented entrees and small plates. An outdoor wood-fired grill sears aged rib-eye steaks, simmers cuts of wild salmon, and puts old snowmen out to pasture.
The stately grounds at River Ridge Golf Club are split between two distinct 18-hole courses: The Vineyard Course and The Victoria Lakes Course. Though there is a diverse arrangement of hole layouts littered throughout these sibling courses, a few design features are constants. Well-kept fairways and smooth greens of poa annua grass are always underfoot, one of the 14 water hazards is never far, and a light breeze constantly blows over the club from the Pacific, located just a few miles away.
In fact, the ocean is visible from a handful of high elevation points on the Vineyard Course. Holes three through six are "on top of the world" because they showcase panoramic ocean views and are at the highest elevation in Oxnard. Golfers also encounter water in closer proximity, as five lakes span the back nine on the Vineyard course, including the signature island green on the par-3 18th hole that usually plays into the wind or the occasional golf-ball hail storm. True to its name, the Victoria Lakes course harbors eight acres of water, as well as a stretch of difficult layouts on hole 12, 13, and 14.
In addition to adhering to golf's storied traditions, River Ridge also embraces new developments in the world of sport. Take footgolf, for instance. Started in the Netherlands in 2009, the hybrid sport combines soccer's precision kicks with golf's scoring system and challenging courses. River Ridge embraced the sport early, opening the first footgolf course in California alongside its traditional courses. In addition to attracting curious athletes, the course also earned the attention of the sport's governing body; River Ridge is an official partner of the American FootGolf League, and will host one of the league's inaugural pro-am tournaments in September 2014.
Vineyard Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,761 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 72 from the back tees * Course slope of 121 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * View the scorecards
Victoria Lakes Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,170 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 74.6 from the back tees * Course slope of 136 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole
Before they could move into their dream winemaking facility, the proprietors of Casa Barranca Winery Tasting Room had to exhume it. The team dug 15 feet into the earth and hacked their way through two feet of stone in order to gain access to a century-old stone water cistern, which they subsequently converted into a solar-powered underground winery. Today, the winemakers handcraft Old World–style varietals from organic grapes that flourish in the Ojai Valley's warm climate.
Grown and farmed without pesticides or herbicides, the grapes are part of the natural, sustainable practices that earned Casa Barranca the first organic certification for a winery in the Santa Barbara region. They're also what give Casa Barranca's critically lauded and award-winning wines their fruity, earthy flavors. Visitors can sample these bouquets amid murals of the local wine region in the winery's tasting room, located in downtown Ojai's Historic Arcade.