Wine Country – Malibu!
When you think of Malibu, you might think of postcard-perfect beaches or surfers catching waves. But wine tastings? Not so much. And yet, a year ago, this coastal area just 35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles got its own American Viticultural Area status, designating it as an official wine-growing region.
Forget Napa and Sonoma – Malibu is the hot destination for wine lovers!
With a landscape mimicking Italy—rocky hills, Mediterranean villas adorned with tiles, and towering cypress—the region is poised to make great wines.
“All you need is sunshine, water and money, and there’s plenty of that going around,” says Tim Skogstrom, owner of Cornell Winery.
Meet the Malibu Coast AVA, where Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive in the Santa Monica Mountains. Home to around 50 growers of wine-grapes, it’s where a Chardonnay from Dolin Estate recently earned 89 points from Wine Enthusiast.
“The first thing we judged is whether we would drink it,” says Dolin. The Chardonnay has earned both a silver and a double-gold medal in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Annual production hovers at around only 200 cases.
While the winery does not have a tasting room, its Chardonnay can be sipped at Cornell Winery & Tasting Room, an Old West-themed wine bar on Mulholland Highway in Agoura Hills. (It’s also uncorked at The Malibu Beach Inn and Geoffrey’s, and at Top Chef alum Brian Malarkey’s Herringbone in West Hollywood, plus a few spots in Washington D.C. and New York City.) Skogstrom opened the venue in 2006, using his experience as a sales and marketing manager at Francis Ford Coppola Winery to help boutique Malibu wineries get their name out.
Closer to town, Rosenthal, located along Pacific Coast Highway directly across from Topanga Beach, carves out a chill scene on weekends with live jazz in the courtyard. Wine crafted from Malibu grapes (Chardonnay, Viognier, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon) is sold by the bottle or the glass, or pay $13 for a flight of four wines. Food trucks on the weekends hawk lobster rolls and Latin-inspired eats from Azteca, plus cheese plates are offered daily.
Even as Malibu slowly evolves from its surf image into a bonafide wine region, you don’t have to look far for a laid-back pairing with its wines, whether it’s yoga, an al-fresco film or a beachfront tasting room. Each is a unique reflection of Malibu’s culture. And despite another drought, vineyards here are popping up by the dozens: Within the past year alone there were 50 applications filed for vineyard permits—a sharp contrast to the three permits filed within the year prior.
Saddlerock Vineyards of Malibu Family Wines.
The region’s biggest producer is Malibu Family Wines, which first planted vines in 1996 and has since evolved to 80,000 vines on 85 acres. On weekends at its tasting room on Mulholland Highway in Malibu (others are in Los Olivos, Westlake Village, and on the Queen Mary), music fills the expansive lawn while guests sip wines from the winery’s Semler line, featuring Malibu-grown grapes that include Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. read more…