Wine connoisseurs assert that novice tasters should never pair red wine with fish, white wine with red meat, or excessive wine with jury duty. Lap up today's Groupon in moderate proportions: for $5, you get a wine tasting and a $10 voucher toward purchases at Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard (a $16 value). Tasting hours are 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m. on Friday. There are no tastings on Saturday.
Herzog Wine Cellars’ master vintner, Joe Hurliman, assembles the finest fruit specimens from the surrounding region to craft artisan libations brimming with variegated aromas and flavors. Swirl four Kosher-supervised blends, such as the 2007 Baron Herzog merlot ($13), which swims with the scents of strawberry jam, berries, and a freshly unwrapped Sega Genesis. Clients seeking lighter fare can opt for the 2009 Pink by W ($9.99), a vividly colored rosé, forged from cabernet, syrah, and zinfandel grapes, that mixes submerged spices and hints of vanilla.
Guests can show themselves around facilities and peer at 77,000 square feet of vintage cultivation, pause to lick a granite-topped tasting bar, and visit the boutique and outdoor terrace. In addition to varied wine selections, a gift shop stocks artisan chocolates, epicurean eats, and accessories.
Herzog Wine Cellars
The combined artistry of nine generations of Czech winemakers built Herzog Wine Cellars. The Herzog family's rich wine-making history dates back to late 19th-century Czechoslovakia, when Philip Herzog plied his craft for the Austro-Hungarian court. Legend has it that Emperor Franz-Josef loved Philip's wines so much, he made him a baron—a title commemorated in the winery's current Baron Herzog label.
Inside a modern facility nestled within the strawberry fields and farms of Oxnard, California, head winemaker Joe Hurliman crafts shimmering whites and dusky reds in the California tradition. Hurliman only uses grapes sourced from California vineyards, blending different varieties to conjure new tastes and aromas. This mixing and fermenting transforms bushels into the cellar's two lines of wine, which include special reserve and late-harvest bottles. Outside this laboratory, cathedral-like ceilings hang over a granite tasting bar where, during tastings, staff teach visitors how to identify delicate flavors and ensure no one replaced the real wine with boring grape juice. The grounds also feature private tasting rooms, a boutique, and an outdoor terrace.
Inside the restaurant with the highest Zagat food rating in Ventura County, Tierra Sur, executive chef Gabriel Garcia crafts New American cuisine. Using seasonal and locally sourced produce from area farms, he mingles American flavors into artfully presented entrees and small plates. An outdoor wood-fired grill sears aged rib-eye steaks, simmers cuts of wild salmon, and puts old snowmen out to pasture.