Three stops for tastings on a Malibu wine tour

Cornell Winery
Cornell Winery is a tasting room for local wines of the area, with an informed staff.
(Fred Seidman )

Just three Malibu wineries have tastings rooms open on a regular basis right now. Bring a sweater or jacket (even in summer, the breeze can be chilly in the late afternoon) and, if you can, a designated driver. The charge for a flight of small pours of the local wines ranges from $10 to $15 per person. You can also opt for wines by the glass or purchase a bottle of any of the selections.

Cornell Winery: Cornell has the biggest selection, functioning more as a tasting room for local wines than a “winery.” (The owner couldn’t get a permit.) At this weathered wood barn off Mulholland Highway, you can sip and buy wines from the Malibu Coast AVA along with wines from the Central Coast. The place has a funky vibe with its pressed-tin ceiling, stained-glass lamps over the bar and, at the back, a long communal table lighted by a chandelier. A tasting of four wines runs $10. The selection changes weekly and includes at least one Malibu wine; the remainder are from Central Coast boutique wineries. The staff is informed and ready to pour you a glass if you want to opt out of the tasting. You can also pick up bottles of wine to go from their selection of 75 to 100 labels.

Cornell Winery & Tasting Room, 29975 Mulholland Highway, Cornell (a.k.a. Agoura), (818)735-3542; Open noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays (or until 9 p.m. if no private events are scheduled).

Malibu Family Wines: You can’t miss the cluster of cars nosing their way into the valet parking lot ($18). Go just a bit farther up the road to the free lot and take a shuttle back to the tasting room. Entirely outdoors, it’s really more of a tasting park with a huge stretch of astroturf ringed with a handful of tasting bars, all crowded, all serving the same lineup of wines. You can opt for one of two flights at $12 or $14. You want the Semler Estate Flight, five wines made from Malibu estate-grown grapes. The best are the 2011 Merlot and the pricey 2010 Reserve Cabernet. It’s a wild scene, with women in filmy dresses and floppy hats taking selfies in front of the vineyard or the vintage trucks, and picnics spread on the grass and tables of friends and birthday parties generally making merry. Call ahead to reserve a picnic table.


Malibu Family Wines, 31740 Mulholland Highway, Malibu, (818) 865-0605, Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Call ahead to reserve a picnic table.

Rosenthal Wines: You’ve probably seen this place as you drove by on the PCH. The building is so unassuming, you’d never guess that in back is an expansive garden with cushioned armchairs, tables and ultramarine blue umbrellas. There’s live music on a stage on the weekends and often a food truck dishing out lobster rolls and such just beyond the fence. When the chill comes on in the afternoon, die-hards don blankets to sip Rosenthal’s tropical Chardonnay or Surfrider Hang Ten Red, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah and Petite Verdot. A wine tasting flight is $12, or $15 if you prefer all reds. Indoors, outdoors, you take your pick. And, hey, the last Saturday of the month you can take an 11 a.m. yoga class followed by a wine tasting. How very Malibu.

Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio, 18741 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu (310) 456-1392; Open 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.


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