A Guide to Malibu’s Wine Scene
Napa, Sonoma, … Malibu? While it might not be world-renowned (yet!), Malibu County is indeed home to a robust and burgeoning wine scene, thanks to its prime mineral-rich soil conditions and microclimates that mix fog and sun, perfect for grape growing. It’s even got its own American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation – known as Malibu Coast – and is home to dozens of vineyards (the first of which were planted in the early 1800s) and multiple wine-tasting rooms. That means an afternoon of sipping and swirling makes for a worthy activity to add to your Malibu itinerary, whether you’re an expert oenophile or just want a little Rosé all day. Though most area wineries and tasting rooms allow walk-ins, reservations are recommended, especially on busy weekends. Cheers!
Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio
One of Malibu’s larger wine producers, Rosenthal originally planted vines on its 28-acre estate 35 years ago and now grows six varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Chardonnay. While the vineyards are four miles from the coast, Rosenthal’s tasting room is in a prime location right on the Pacific Coast Highway, just across from the beach, where you can try their offerings inside the airy tasting room or out back on the expansive outdoor patio complete with tables shaded by bright blue umbrellas during the day and lit up with bistro lights and (heaters) come evening. Relax with a glass, order up a bottle, or try a serious sampling with a tasting flight of five reds, whites, or a mix. Tastings usually include a couple of Rosenthal Estate wines in addition to wines from the Surfrider label, created from grapes derived from other vineyards from around the state, giving you the chance to try varietals like Pinot Noir, Syrah, Albarino, and sparklers. The weekends are full of fun stuff – from food pop-ups to live music to drag bingo to yoga (cheekily dubbed “vino and vinyasa”) – so check the calendar to see what’s happening while you’re in town.
This family-owned winery’s location smack in the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains (eight miles inland from Point Dume State Beach) offers some drool-worthy views to pair with its wines. The Tuscan-style estate is set on 35 acres and its tasting room, dubbed “The Barn” is perched high above Malibu with the mountains, hills, vineyards, and hundreds of leafy green olive trees serving as scenery. Here you can sidle up for a leisurely tasting and choose from either the refreshing chilled summer flight featuring Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and the signature “Honey Pie” blend or the bolder Cielo flight with reds like Cabernet, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. You’ll also find a food menu of salads, charcuterie boards, and even a dreamy chocolate pairing plate plus wood-fired pizzas on the weekends. If you’ve got several in your group, reserve a table, or for more in-depth experience book the Saturday-only three-hour “Tasting Experience at The Trail,” which includes a guided tasting with a resident wine curator, a catered Mexican lunch, and live music.
Strange Family Vineyard
Though the namesake family behind this winery grows their grapes in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills region, they’re actually residents of Malibu and opened their local tasting room as a way to share their wines with Malibu residents and visitors with a location near the beach. They’ve done exactly that with the opening of Strange Family Wines’ industrial-chic outpost at the luxe outdoor shopping and dining complex Malibu Lumber Yard where they pour their sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Grab a seat inside at the tasting bar or book a table outside on the tree-dotted deck. Either way, you can opt for a mixed tasting fight or go for a glass or bottle.
Summer Somewhere Wines
Created by local couple Billy and Stacey Dim, the Summer Somewhere collection of wines is a true ode to Malibu. (Even their tasting flights are named after local beaches.) Their grapes are sourced from various AVAs around the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, including the well-known Happy Canyon to create a mix of reds, whites, Rosé, and their newly released orange wine (an increasingly trendy style of wine that originated in Eastern Europe made with white grapes that ferment with the skins on to give the final product a groovy orange hue). Bonus: You can tack your tasting on to a shopping outing since the super stylish tasting room is set within the long-standing LA-based fashion retailer Fred Segal location at boutique mall Malibu Country Mart. The adjacent patio is perfect for summer sipping, too, with bistro tables, poppy blue-and-white striped umbrellas, and, of course, plenty of sunshine.