California’s most recognizable wine country lies considerably north of the Los Angeles area, yet the southern part of the state is home to its own under-the-radar wine scene. With a wine grape growing heritage dating back to the 1800’s, Los Angeles and Orange counties contain six distinctive wine regions.
Wine tasting in the Los Angeles area tends to involve some road time, yet the reward is the discovery of an uncrowded, laidback tasting scene. These tend to be independent, family run operations with an annual production the fraction of the size of the giants further north.
Within 15 miles of downtown Los Angeles can be found three wineries, San Antonio (est. 1917) bears a central city address and is one of the oldest in the state. Nearby Pasadena is home to Black Rock Wine works, producer of award winning Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache wines, and Zinfandel varietals, while the hills of Bel Air host the exclusive Moraga Vineyards.
Travel 45 miles north of Los Angeles and you’ll find Agua Dulce Vineyards, surrounded by horse ranches along the scenic Sierra Highway. Another 15 miles will put you in Ventura County, a homey, up and coming wine region that contains over a dozen boutique wineries and tasting rooms, such as Four Brix Winery, which considers their wines to be internationally inspired yet hand crafted, and the self-labeled ‘alternative’ Plan B Cellars, offering Rhone varietals and more.
Heading west from the city will bring you to Malibu, most often associated with the beach and surf scene. But the Santa Monica Mountains surrounding Malibu have also become regarded as producing high quality wines and quite a few wineries can be found along the coast and Mulholland highways. There are over 50 vineyards along the Malibu Wine Trail, including those of regional pioneer George Rosenthal (Malibu Estate Winery), in this area that is rapidly growing in popularity.
Traveling east, you will reach four independent wineries: St James Spirits in Irwindale (which also produces flavored rum, brandy, and agave), Rancho De Philo Winery in Alta Loma (which also makes a sought after triple cream sherry), Galleano Winery in Mira Loma (known for its dessert wines), and fourth-generation Joseph Filippi Winery in Rancho Cucamonga.
Several wineries are located along the coast south of the city between Torrance and Laguna Beach. Right in Torrance is family-owned Peralta while just east of Long Beach in Los Alamitos, King Wines bottled under the name Gary King Wines. One of the area’s largest producers is in Palos Verdes Estates, Castle Rock Winery, with an estimated 500,000 cases per year. In Orange County, Thompkin Cellars in Costa Mesa and Laguna Canyon Winery in Laguna Beach,are both boutique operations.
Heading southeast, five wineries can be found in and around Anaheim such as OC Custom Wine which sources grapes from outside the area, but the winery operations are located right in the heart of Anaheim.
With so many directions to head and so many tasting possibilities, you might well consider hiring a vehicle for the day from Los Angeles Limo Service. Our Los Angeles Wine Tour professional and courteous chauffeurs will serve as your expert guides and direct you to a personalized and memorable Southern California wine tasting experience.