The vino aficionados at Bernard’s Wine Gallery stock their cellars with a multifarious collection of wines from around the world, including a broad selection of local Santa Barbara County vintages. Currently, the gallery inundates taste buds with a mélange of locally produced Coquelicot beverages cultivated using organic farming principles, such as zero chemical pesticides, regular composting practices, and hemp-woven tuxedos for every employee. Samples of Coquelicot Vineyard’s fermented delights—including chardonnay, sangiovese, and cabernet franc—dart across tongues to invoke an array of tones and flavors. Additionally, free plates brim with rich cheeses that help support the rich, sugary notes of the wines by spontaneously animating and leading a pep rally.
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.
Wine expert Richard Belloff collects striking wines from across the planet to adorn the racks at Bellavino Wine Bar, 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 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.
Being raised in Saint Helena and schooled with makers of renown California wines, John Hamilton used his knowledge of the wine business to envision a different industry design moving into the 21st century. By exploiting the vastly different results in grapes from year-to-year, and by taking other factors such as micro-climates and soil composition into account, John specialized in creating unique custom wine blends. It was this craft that lead to the creation of J. Hamilton Wines.
Capitalizing on satisfaction of visitors, customers can flock to a tasting room called Flight, located in an industrial complex. Reminiscent of a beatnik-era San Francisco speakeasy, patrons can sample varieties of J.Hamilton's sparkling, white, and red wines from Thursday through Sunday.