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.
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.
Consistently praised by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, and numerous other publications, BottleRock enlightens palates with a wine inventory of more than 600 labels and a selection of carefully crafted small plates. Oenophiles can unleash their imaginations sans the risk of being punched by Dionysis with a wine flight—a dramatic sequence of three 2-ounce pours. After a trio of samplings, connoisseurs can nibble on mild and nutty manchego cheese from Spain or indulge in tender pork rillette, slow-cooked in-house and served as a pâté. Cheese plates contain guests’ choice of five or seven out of 14 available moon fruits, and elegant charcuterie platters highlight one of six meat treats. Consult the dinner menu for a full list of available options. Wine tastings featuring the happy tears of grapes from Robert Hall Winery let patrons sample an assortment of adult juices, each paired with elegant snacks such as tuna tartar and grilled truffle cheese.
The vineyards of Italy offer up their red and white bounties at Aria V Wine Bar, an upscale gathering spot for oenophiles of fine tastes. Surrounded by beguiling bottles under dim romantic lighting, visitors can sample wines from such producers as David Sterza, Sensi, Di Giovanna, and Serenissima. They also pour a special wine known as an Amarone della Valpolicella, a richly bodied red awarded 92 points by Wine Spectator.
Ugo claims to be the first establishment in Southern California to feature enomatic dispensers. These self-service wine stations begin to pour with the simple swipe of a card, making it even easier to get comfy inside a romantic space defined by candlelight and live jazz music.
The edible delights at Enoteca radiate rustic authenticity from the comprehensive menu. Antipasti anchor the easy vibes, so dive finger-first into platters of grilled polenta and wild mushrooms ($13), or beef carpaccio with foie gras ($15). The usual suspects done creatively are all present during subsequent courses, including napoletana pizza heavy with anchovies and garlic ($13), seafood and squid ink risotto ($17), veal scallopine ($27), and the meatless burrata salad with mozzarella, green lentils, roasted beets, and asparagus ($13). Complement the edibles with sippables comprising more than 250 bottles of wine from the 20 regions of Italy in glasses, flights, and quartinos.