Northern California often draws attention from wine lovers for its vineyards and wineries. However, Southern California is also home to high-quality wineries. From the Santa Ynez Valley to Temecula, Southern California has plenty to offer wine enthusiasts.
Check out the following list of three of the best wineries in Southern California.
Malibu Family Wines
Malibu Family Wines is situated in the Santa Monica Mountains, offering a unique environment that features palm and oak trees on the same estate. The picturesque Saddlerock Estate has served as the setting for more than 100 television shows, movies, and commercials.
The estate is located at a high altitude in the Saddle Rock-Malibu American Viticultural Area (AVA). This location offers great weather, rocky soil, and enough distance from the coast for growing excellent grapes.
The estate has 65 acres planted with some 60,000 vines and is planning to expand to a total of 100 acres. Malibu Family Wines has planted 11 varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, and Petit Verdot.
Wine lovers can choose from a variety of red wines. These include the 2016 Saddlerock Cabernet Sauvignon, which features hints of baker’s chocolate, black cherry, dark currants, and cedar.
White wine lovers will want to try the 2017 Saddlerock (Semler Estate) Sauvignon Blanc. This wine undergoes fermentation in a 100-percent stainless steel tank and features flavors of honeysuckle, pear, melon, and a bit of lime zest.
Baily Vineyard and Winery
Located in Temecula Valley, Baily Vineyard and Winery was one of the first wineries in the region near San Diego. The Bailys planted their first vineyard in 1982 and have since developed a sophisticated winemaking facility.
Its wines undergo aging in barrels for 30 months. This far exceeds the industry standard for aging. All wines are made from grapes grown on the Baily’s vineyards, allowing for unparalleled consistency.
Baily Vineyard and Winery specializes in Bordeaux varieties, including Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Visitors can enjoy tastings at tasting room on the Baily Estate, which features a production facility on Pauba Road and a collection of library wines. Alternatively, wines can be sampled at the other tasting room on Rancho California Road.
In addition to producing excellent red wines, Baily Vineyard and Winery makes a Sangiovese Rosé and several white wines. It also produces a Vintage Port and a dessert wine called Serenity, which is made of 32 percent Semillon and 8 percent Sauvignon Blanc.
Visitors can try these and other wines at Carol’s Restaurant. The eatery features a large floor-to-ceiling fireplace in Bacchus Hall, the main dining room. The wines are paired with a variety of dishes, from Classic Shrimp Scampi and Cashew Crusted Salmon Salad to the Duet of Raviolis and the Reuben Sandwich.
Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Callaway Vineyard & Winery is located on the eastern part of the South Coast Mountain Range, approximately 22 miles from the coast. The vineyard benefits from a high altitude at 1,400 to 1,600 feet.
It is also in close proximity to the Rainbow Gap, a break in the mountains through which cool fog from the ocean flows inland. Combined with this morning cool air, the warm air from the east provides an ideal climate for growing grapes.
At its main estate, Callaway has 50 acres planted with seven varietals, including Syrah, Viognier, and Sangiovese. The winery has also planted 200 acres of land at the corner of Monte de Oro Road and De Portola Road.
Dedicated to sustainability, Callaway Vineyard & Winery strives to maintain a natural, diverse ecosystem. Its vineyards incorporate numerous perches and nesting boxes for local owls and hawks. Cover crops are also planted between vineyard rows for a healthy population of insects.
Callaway Vineyard & Winery has won a number of awards for its wines. These include the silver medal for its 2013 Special Selection Rosé of Sangiovese at the 2016 Tasters Guild International Wine Competition. The winery’s 2015 Special Selection Muscat Canelli also won a silver medal at the same competition and another at the 2016 Dan Berger International Wine Competition.
Callaway Vineyard & Winery sells its wines at its on-site restaurant, Meritage Restaurant. Meritage sources much of its produce from the on-site garden and greenhouse. When ingredients aren’t available on-site, the chef partners with local farmers to maintain a truly local, farm-to-table menu.
The menu offers a variety of tapas, from Prosciutto with Goat Cheese to Tempura Style Calamari and Green Beans. The entrees include Braised Volcano Lamb Shank, Pan Seared Diver Scallops, Cornish Game Hen, and Cioppino, a San Francisco-inspired dish featuring a plethora of seafood, including calamari, clams, crab, octopus, and shrimp.
The above three wineries represent just a fraction of what wine lovers can find in Southern California. With a little additional time, visitors to the area can explore the many other vineyards tucked away in Southern California’s various wine regions.
Despite not getting the same press coverage as wineries in Northern California, the wineries in the south are developing a robust wine culture. In fact, they are producing some outstanding wines rivaling those from more well-known wine regions.