By Maria del Cisne Vital
Whether you prefer crisp Pinot Grigio, dry Chianti, or summer Rosé, California is the destination for any and every type of wine. The iconic Napa and Sonoma Valleys of NorCal are the titans of tannins. Meanwhile, SoCal can take pride in Temecula, Malibu and more growing wineries and vineyards. One feat that is hard to beat is the inviting and warm energy provided at SoCal’s family-owned wineries. With intimate settings and exclusive wines, check out these spots to feel right at home with a glass in hand.
For three generations, the Carhartt family has grown with Rancho Santa Ynez and transformed it into what it is today— 22 acres of land meant for farming grapes and creating craft wines. Their “ground to glass” approach is what allows this Santa Barbara spot to distribute high quality and sustainable products. Stop by the Carhartt Cabin, a tasting room that has 20 different wines to try throughout the year (they only close on Christmas Day). The Carhartt family insists on keeping their business and customers close, so their wines are only distributed online or in their tasting room.
2939 Grand Ave., Los Olivos, 805-693-5100, carharttvineyard.com.
Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards
Wilson Creek Winery is located in the heart of Temecula’s Wine Country . In 1953, Rosie and Gerry Wilson fell in love, married and started their family. As their children grew up, a family business became a thought and by 1996, it came into fruition with Wilson Creek Winery. 90 acres and 1,500 visitors on any given weekend allow the Wilson Family to show their hospitality through what they know best—serving up the best wines. With a tasting room, a restaurant, picnic areas and even a wedding venue, the Wilson family wants their visitors to create a lasting experience within their large space.
35960 Rancho California Road, Temecula, 951-699-9463, wilsoncreekwinery.com.
In 1927, Vincent Rizzo purchased Bernardo Winery and it soon became the major wine supplier for San Diego County. Today, Vincent’s grandson, Ross Rizzo Jr., continues the Bernardo Winery legacy. This San Diego spot, located just minutes from downtown, is home to 2,500 grape vines. The grounds include the winemaking facility, a tasting room, a coffee shop and other stores throughout the village. If you enjoy art, the tasting room doubles as a gallery for local artists.
13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte, San Diego, 858-487-1866, bernardowinery.com.
Grassini Family Vineyards
Nestled in Happy Canyon, Grassini Family Vineyards prides themselves in their Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Since the 1980s the Grassinis have created tradition, and they work hard to maintain the same beauty and decadence they fell in love with when they first purchased the land. The solar-powered winery opened in 2010 and the family’s newest endeavor, a tasting room, is now open in Santa Barbara’s El Paseo Center.
24 El Paseo, Santa Barbara, 805-897-3366, grassinifamilyvineyards.com.
Surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains, Cielo Farms has been owned and operated by the Hirsch family since 1999. As a result of their passion for wine, they are also behind the Woodstock & Estate Wine Collections. Cielo Farms’ 30 acres gives visitors breathtaking views of the Malibu Hills as well as delightful tastes of premium wine at their tasting room, The Barn. They like to keep their circle small, so exclusivity is big here— only members and guests of members can reserve tasting experiences at The Barn. 31424 Mulholland Hwy., Malibu, 805-852-1804, woodstockmalibu.com