The 1,000-acre Saddlerock Ranch is home to Malibu Family Wines, which boasts 60,000 vines on 65 acres of lush land in the Santa Monica Mountains that is more fertile than potting soil made from mummy crumbs. Malibu Wines grows eight varietals of wines in the steep, rocky terrain. During the wine tasting for two people, each person is handed a tasting glass ($2 each) and a spread of mauve nectar is presented for glugging. Each person can then choose two flights ($10–$12 per flight) from eight different varieties, including cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon blanc, muscat, and syrah.
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.
Telegraph Brewing Co. uses locally grown ingredients to handcraft artisan American ales that reflect the regional brewing traditions of California's early pilsner pioneers. Set forth on a journey of sud discovery in the tasting area, an impressive collection of 18-foot fermentation tanks housing an array of award-winning drafts. The brewers themselves will pour you pints of white ale, a classic, unfiltered Belgian-style blend of coriander, orange peel, and chamomile flowers that Wine Enthusiast Magazine named one of the top 25 beers of 2010, allowing you to ply the experts with questions such as, “Why are they called hops if they’ve got no feet?” Sample the intricacies of the California ale, Telegraph’s signature medium-bodied brew featuring an earthy aroma and a good head on its shoulders. Or, tipple the Gypsy ale, a blend of rye, unmalted wheat, and local plums, before requesting a 10 oz. glass of your favorite. Sourdough pretzels are provided as a palate companion, and ale aficionados are encouraged to bring their own eats to pair with lonely lagers.
On the roof of Bonaventure Brewing Co. sits a verdant, manicured square of lawn and a little copse of trees. Carved into that is the circle of a heated outdoor patio that expands into panoramic views of the downtown Los Angeles skyline. Perched atop the fourth floor pool deck, the patio shares the restaurant's 9,000 total square feet with a wood-paneled dining room and an in-house brewery. Here, head brewer David Blackwell creates a trio of award winning beers: pale ale, strawberry blonde, and the Marathon.
Blackwell's ales and a handful of guest beers complement the kitchen's approach to pub food, which ranges from classic bar bites to more upscale, steakhouse-style entrees. The traditional end of the spectrum includes calamari tempura-battered in the brewery's blonde ale, as well as Angus burgers coated in blackened spices and topped with bleu cheese and chipotle aioli. The brewery end features dishes such as macadamia-crusted Mahi-Mahi and bacon-wrapped filet mignon.
Quaint stone buildings, cool dark cellars full of oak barrels, and fertile fields of grapevines—these are the images that Carina Cellars hopes to evoke with its European-style wines, which celebrate grapes that originated in the Rhone region of France. The winery sources its favored grapes from vineyards all along the central coast, especially Paso Robles and the Santa Ynez Valley. In the late 2000s, Carina also purchased 83 acres of land it called Rancho del Cielo—“ranch of the sky,” after its steep slopes—to grow its own vines of viognier, syrah, grenache, and other grapes. Though Carina Cellars’ wines are manufactured using Old-World techniques and grapes, the terroir of California’s central coast shines through to define each style. Its whites feature a smooth 2006 viognier from Stolpman Vineyard, whose limestone soil adds a hint of minerality to the flavors and aromas of fruit before a butterscotch finish. In addition to several single-vineyard reds and carefully harmonized red rhone blends, Carina Cellars cultivates a list of reserve wines that includes Iconoclast, its rich flagship blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Iconoclast's initial earthy aroma gives way to lush currant notes and a mocha finish, showcasing the care with which it was aged in small batches. Vintner Joey Tensley found his calling at the tender age of 12, when a radioactive wine bug bit him in a Bordeaux winery. He broke into the business 10 years later in 1993, eventually establishing his own brand that exclusively creates vineyard-designate syrahs. In 2002, he partnered with longtime enophile and businessman David Hardee to create Carina Cellars.
Founded in 2010 by father-and-son team Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer and brewer A.J. Stoll, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. has quickly proved its mettle by winning a series of medals, including five golds, from prestigious contests such as the Denver International Beer Competition. Visitors can peek at the brewery’s inner workings on tours, learning about the origins of such beers as Paradise Road Pilsner, Davy Brown Ale, and Hurricane Deck Double IPA. They can also view the towering stainless-steel tanks in which beer is born as a mash and undergoes an awkward adolescence as a root beer. Back in the tasting room, guests sit beneath a wood and sheet-metal awning as they sip samples of the alcohol alchemists' nine beers. The tasting room is often host to events, with live music on the weekends and quiz and darts nights on alternating Wednesdays.