The French idea of terroir refers to “how a particular region’s climate, soils and unique aspects affect the taste of the wine produced from that region” (thanks to this post by Wine Folly for the easy to understand definition). This concept may have never rang more true than when drinking Malibu wine. The characteristics in the wine growing region of Malibu include a high elevation, warm temperatures and soil with volcanic material in it. Why does this matter? It matters because all of those things combine to make Malibu wine what it is today: delicious. Next time you're in Malibu, go out of your way to visit the wineries listed below.
Offering the quintessential SoCal wine tasting experience and one of my personal favorite places to enjoy a glass of Syrah in the lower (and far superior) half of California, a day at Malibu Wines is practically a requirement. Hanging lights, classic cars, live music and a rustic, trendy vibe make this outdoor tasting room seem so...Malibu. Giant chrome letters spelling out the word “wine” allow for all of your wildest Instagram dreams to come true and let guests know that this tasting room is all about having a good time. Bring your own picnic year round or visit during the summertime to catch a screening of an outdoor movie and experience a delectable Food Truck Friday. Of course, the selection of amazing Malibu wines offered at this tasting room is the real reason I keep going back. Red wine drinkers will love the Semler Cabernet Sauvignon, offering soft tannins and a velvety smooth finish, or the Saddlerock Zinfandel for a full blackberry flavor. For a fun and bubbly experience sip on the Saddlerock Sparkling Rosé or Saddlerock Sparkling Brut and celebrate being in one of the most beautiful and unique tasting rooms Southern California has to offer. For those who have always dreamt of feeding a zebra and tasting Malibu wine at the same time, yet have felt too afraid to express this desire, fear not any longer. Saddlerock Ranch, which includes Malibu Wines, offers a “Wine Safari”, complete with an authentic safari bus and a sampling of three whites and three reds. For pictures and more information about this unique wine tasting experience, check out this post on LAist - just make sure you’re offering the carrot to the giraffe and not your glass of Pinot.
Established in 2001, Colcanyon Estate was amongst the early entrants in the up-and-coming Santa Monica Mountain region, and until 2010, their wines were only available to family and close friends. Lucky for us, Colcanyon's award winning wines are now available to the public. These are some of the most complex and rich wines we've tasted to date. Each year they produce a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, and a delicious Meritage (a Bordeaux Blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc). These wines all have distinct and concentrated fruit flavors, with smooth tannins and layers of complexity - we highly recommend trying them. The view at Colcanyon Estate isn't half bad either. Located 2,000 feet above Malibu, the vineyard is situated on a south facing slope with uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean - the perfect spot for a private tasting. Colcanyon farms just two acres of land which truly puts them into the "boutique" or "hidden gem" category. Focusing on such a small production also enables Colcanyon to consistently produce high quality wines year in and year out.
Located right on Pacific Coast Highway with picturesque views of the beach and ocean, the wine bar and patio of Rosenthal The Malibu Estate truly embodies everything it means to drink Malibu wine. There’s something about being so close to the sand and water that brings out the white wine lover in me and the 2012 Rosenthal Estate Chardonnay (Gold Medal Winner at the 2014 LA County Fair) is the perfect lightly oaked wine to be enjoyed while avoiding the paparazzi. The 2008 “Block M” Cabernet Sauvignon is everything a Malibu wine should be as the terrior of the Malibu Hills is truly noticeable. Enjoy a day at the only wine bar located along the Pacific Coast Highway by bringing your own picnic and embracing Instagram opportunity #2 by taking a picture in one of their enormous lifeguard chairs (but always remember to follow these Unwritten Rules of Instagram).
More In Malibu
Because I’m all about equal opportunities for all alcoholic beverages, not just the kind with grapes in it, it’s important to mention another must stop spot after a day well spent drinking Malibu wine. Enjoy the most incredible Prickly Pear Mojito of your life at Cafe Habana while participating in America’s favorite pastimes, karaoke. Offered every Wednesday night and favored by the likes of Owen and Luke Wilson, Cindy Crawford, and Matthew McConaughey, this is karaoke night like you’ve never seen before. Just be sure not to spill your drink when Cuba Gooding Jr. grabs the mic to do his rendition of “Sweet Caroline”.
When wine from Napa and Sonoma just doesn’t seem to have the starpower you want, Malibu wine is making its presence known. With a newly recognized AVA (explained a little better in this article by the LA Times) and a well known history of fame and beauty, the city of Malibu is proving to offer wine as A-list as its residents.