While there have been wine grapes grown in the Malibu hills since the early 1800s, the recent designation of the Malibu Coast as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) by the U.S. government cements the region as a real contender in the California wine industry.
That's great news for everyone that lives in Los Angeles, as it's the closest place for Angelenos to visit wineries in Southern California.
The Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards, located in the Malibu Coast AVA — Photo courtesy of Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards
Over 50 wineries/winegrowers are found in the 46-mile wide, eight-mile long region, which is bordered by Pacific Coast Highway (and the ocean) to the south and runs through the Santa Monica Mountains to about the 101 Freeway north. The Malibu Coast also edges the communities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village.
This AVA also has two sub-AVAs inside it: the Saddle Rock-Malibu AVA and the Malibu-Newton Canyon AVA. All three AVAs are characterized by a balmy Mediterranean climate with cool mornings and warm afternoons, making it an ideal place to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the lower elevations and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot up in the warmer hills.
Currently, only a few wineries are open to the public (a fact that is likely to change in the coming days), including Rosenthal Estate. Founded in 1987, this beautiful winery in Newton Canyon is only open for private tours of 30 or more guests, but any size group can visit their tasting room on Pacific Coast Highway near Topanga Canyon.
There, from Wednesday to Sunday, you'll find all of the above-mentioned varietals, with a four-wine tasting for $12.
Enjoy a sunny day and a glass of "vino" at Rosenthal Winery's Malibu tasting room — Photo courtesy of Rosenthal Winery
At the Malibu Family Wines tasting room on Mulholland Highway, you can sample both Semler and Saddlerock wines while drinking in the views from this high-up estate. Also up on Mulholland is the tasting room for the rest of Malibu’s wineries, Cornell Winery.
Actually not a winery at all, Cornell offers up just about every local producer's wines. Stop in on any weekend, and you'll find tasting flights that feature a rotating array of wines. And be sure to check out the art gallery there, where many local artists are represented.
You can taste many of the wines from the Malibu Coast AVA at Cornell Winery — Photo courtesy of Cornell Winery
When you're ready for some food to go with all that wine, head back down into the town of Malibu, where V's Restaurant & Bar specializes in pairing wines from the Malibu Coast AVA with Chef Christopher Bocchino's Italian-influenced dishes, including pizza, pasta, risotto, etc.
You'll be able to sample those with a wide array of locally produced wines, including the excellent, creamy Dolin Estate Chardonnay, as well as offerings from Hoyt Family Vineyards, Malibu Vineyards, Semler and more.
One easy way to do the Malibu Coast AVA is on the Malibu Wine Trail Tour offered by Malibu Discovery, a local company that will pick you up and chauffeur you around for three to six hours, introducing you to this beautiful area and the winemakers who have worked so hard to put this place on the map. And you don't have to drive!
Malibu wines are featured at V's Restaurant & Bar on Pacific Coast Highway — Photo courtesy of V's Restaurant & Bar