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.
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.
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.
At Wine Expo, named one of the "10 Best Wine & Spirit Shops in LA" by Los Angeles Magazine, racks teem with wine, craft beer, and liquor from every corner of the globe, plus, a generous selection of real Champagne. The knowledgeable staffers on hand know the difference between standard fruity, oak-infused bottles with lackluster taste and knockout wines that accentuate dinners of red meat or red crayons. They help guide oenophiles in selecting Portuguese whites or Tuscan reds, and organic sparkling white wines or a 31-year-old bottle of scotch. At the wine bar, sippers can sample the flavors for themselves, with flights of three whites, three to four reds, or glasses of beer. Small plates accompany the drinks, including mild cheeses, prosciutto, and crostini.
The Bodega Wine Bar provides wine lovers a casual setting to share plates and try new wines with friends without requiring a deep grapey understanding. Fluff out your cheeks for a cheese plate's offering of the day's selections paired with crackers, nuts, and quince paste ($13) while sipping a glass of Ferreira tawny porto ($9) or one of Bodega's Private Label wines—a Paso Robles red and a Santa Ynez white ($8). While gargling bored doe merlot ($9/glass), snack on a smoked-turkey panini made with tomato, arugula, pesto mayo, and goat cheese ($10). Various pizzas are also available ($11–$13), and beer, cold sake, and soju cocktails await those who don't like wine but want to keep their tongues from shriveling up into a tongue-raisin.