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.
Agua Dulce Winery unfurls its trellised vines and winemaking facilities across 90 acres of the Sierra Pelona Valley. The grapes rely on the valley's cool evening breezes and alluvial soils to maintain the earthy, peppery flavors and restrained acidity that characterize the region's wines. Medium- and high-toasted barrels from France, Hungary, and the United States each lend their own influence to the freshly fermented creations, aging the juice and subtly tweaking the flavorful interplay of rich fruit and restrained spice. The winery's selection includes a robust zinfandel that can pair with smoky barbecue or grilled meats and a bold cabernet sauvignon, which spent two years contemplating its escape from an international mixture of oak barrels.
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.
Thanks to Southern California's dry summer days and cool nights, the grapes around Antelope Valley Winery enjoy a long growing season with ideal temperatures and conditions. This translates into a variety of wines that run the gamut from robust reds to sweet sparkling concoctions perfect for toasting raisins who escaped the press. And although wine is Antelope Valley Winery's main focus, it's not their only one. In addition, they sell grass-fed buffalo meat hailed for its low-cholesterol goodness, and run a farmers' market from May through November, where shoppers can pick up exotic meats, organic juice, and locally-made goat cheese.