Things to do in Santa Monica

Wine Tasting in Santa Monica

Savor the aroma of adventure. Get ready for wine country with this roundup of wine tastings in Santa Monica.

There are many things to do in Santa Monica, from lounging at the beach to searching for unique finds at antique stores. However, the city's proximity to highly lauded wine regions, such as Sonoma and Napa, has left lesser-known vineyards and wine rooms hidden from the limelight.

We're bringing these treasured spots out into the open with our guide to the best places for wine tasting in Santa Monica.

Private Wine Tasting Tours

The opportunity to go wine tasting in Santa Monica, CA, with tons of personalized attention from winemakers and other pros, seems like a dream. But you can easily live your best life without emptying your bank account.

These private wine-tasting tours deliver exclusivity (and plenty of vino, of course). You'll get all the VIP vibes without the VIP price tag.

1. Private Malibu Wineries Tour

Tour some of Malibu's finest wineries with your BFFs, and you'll quickly see (and taste) what the region is all about. This Private Malibu Wineries Tour marries the scenic vistas along the Pacific Coast Highway with a flight of four estate-grown wines for a true sensory experience.

You'll taste offerings featuring Central Coast varietals while snacking on charcuterie and learning all about this sun-soaked locale.

2. VW Wine Bus tour

Some people prefer to ride from vineyard to vineyard in a limo. But modern-day free spirits know this private VW Wine Bus Tour is the way to go. Perfect for influencers and anyone who can't wait to update their social feeds, this tour is a series of photo ops waiting to happen.

Pose by the 1972 classic van, salute the camera with one of the four wines you'll taste on the tour, and toss your hair in the wind as you make a pit stop along the coastline. Your final tour stop at a picturesque beach makes the perfect backdrop for some last-minute selfies. Enjoy the complimentary chocolates as you edit your pics and prepare to go viral.

Photographer: Alfonso Escalante

Wine Tasting Rooms

All around Santa Monica and the nearby rural tracts, wine-tasting rooms do an admirable job of introducing guests to the best vino the region offers. With the vines and lush green vistas holding court, you can enjoy lovingly created wines made with grapes grown a few feet away. Here are some of our favorites.

3. Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyard

Malibu Rocky Oaks' wine tasting room is a work in progress, but it promises to be a megahit. Grapes are grown in volcanic soil, handpicked, and vinified with care to make a unique and wonderfully tasty product.

We're rooting for flights of Malibu Rocky Oaks' Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon Collective, Cab/Syrah Blend, and Rhône-inspired G-S-M — and maybe a bottle of sparkling rosé to take home.

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4. Rosenthal Estate Tasting Room

The Rosenthal Estate Tasting Room is a hive of activity. Its calendar features a full range of activities, including yoga and sound-healing classes, paint-and-sip events, comedy nights, live music, and more. But the real draw is the waterfront wine-tasting room that affords visitors a view of a breathtaking Malibu beach.

Rosenthal hosts a food truck on the weekends, but you can also bring your own picnic to pair with a 2017 Petit Verdot or 2022 "G" Collection Chardonnay.

Photographer: Dorota Semla

5. Cielo Farms

Cielo Farms' wine-tasting experiences come in several shapes and sizes. The Wine Bar Day Pass gives you plenty of time to kick back and enjoy a bottle of wine or a tasting flight alongside munchies from the winery's food list.

For an alfresco afternoon, opt for a Picnic at the Trail. Prices start at $99 per person for a three-hour excursion, including five Cielo Estate wines and a souvenir glass. Just remember the picnic is technically BYOB — bring your own basket.

6. Malibu Wines

In the tasting room at Malibu Wines, you can sample both wine and beer — and not just any beer. Alongside delicious glasses of wine, such as the Saddlerock Estate Rose of Syrah and the vineyard's Old Vine Tawny Port (perfect with dessert), you'll find oodles of draft brews and bottled and canned beers.

The 1903 Lager from Pasadena's Craftsman Brewing Company, Golden Pilsner from Seattle, and Coffee Porter from Smog City Brewing Co. are just a few of the highlights. You can visit as a walk-in or make a reservation to sit at an umbrella-covered table in the Malibu Wines Beer Garden.

You can also plan your trip to coincide with one of the venue's many experiences throughout the year. Yoga + Mimosas is a great way to recover after a night at one of our shows. On the other hand, a pre-theater farm-to-table dinner with wine pairings might be an even better idea.

7. Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards

Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards is a Southern California mainstay. Its vintages are on tables at several celebrity haunts, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Geoffrey's Malibu. You can taste like an A-lister by heading to dinner at the Tasting Room at the Four Seasons Hotel or V's restaurant + bar on the Pacific Coast Highway.

If a four-course meal sounds like too much fuss, you can create a DIY wine tasting by grabbing a few bottles of wine from Lincoln Fine Wines or Vintage Grocers. With just a sip or two, you'll discover why Dolin's limited-production creations have won awards at wine competitions in San Francisco and the Finger Lakes.

8. Malibu Discovery Signature Wine Tours

Consumer reviews rate Malibu Discovery Signature Wine Tours among the best in the greater Los Angeles area. The variety offered is impressive, and it's easy to see why people are enamored.

Choose from an outing on the Malibu Wine Trail or whirl around LA's most notable sites — including a VIP wine tasting room visit. Brunch and dinner tours are available, and you can opt for wine tours featuring Santa Barbara wine country or The Getty Villa.

Wine Bars, Wine Shops, and Other Venues

Not all wine-tasting events in Santa Monica happen at the region's award-winning vineyards, and the area's wine bars are definitely worth the trip. Make a whole day of it by browsing art galleries, picking through produce at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, and winding down at one of these top wine bars.

9. Esters Wine Shop

This James Beard Award-nominated wine bar is a beacon for Santa Monica's least-snobby oenophiles. Esters Wine Shop is cozy and comfortable, which melds well with a wine menu brimming with bottles embodying small production and eco-friendly practices.

If you aren't in the mood for burgundy or Bordeaux, you can dunk a swizzle stick into a seasonal cocktail and munch on some lavender Marcona almonds or curried cashews.

The events calendar is as busy as the menu, with champagne parties, weekly wine tastings, and quarterly book clubs. Each tasting has its theme, and the sessions are led by a sommelier and buoyed by stories from the Esters team.

If you attend a tasting, you get a discount on retail bottles in the connected shop. So plan ahead, get to know your wine options, and think about stocking up.

Photographer: Didgeman

10. Bodega Wine Bar

Bodega Wine Bar is what happens when a cute wine bar meets a casual neighborhood coffee house and invites a craft brewery and indie eatery to join the fun.

The drink menu features an exciting mix of wines from Italy, Willamette Valley, Portugal, Loire Valley, New Zealand, and California. Beer options are similarly varied, and cocktails and sake are also available.

If you get hungry, check out Bodega Wine Bar's menu. We recommend avocado toast with Chagaccino or one of the delicious artisanal pizzas. Chow down and drink up as you lounge in the bar's comfy wood and brick interior.

11. Wine Expo

Wine Expo is part wine warehouse, part spirits emporium, and part tasting and events venue. Walk up and down the aisles, filling your cart with good-to-high-end European wine, beer, and spirits from all over the world.

Plan your shopping excursion for a day when there's a wine tasting or class on tap, and you can leverage your lesson in vinification and grape qualities into some educated buys. Either way, everybody wins.

12. Cornell Wine Co.

Venture out of central Santa Monica and into the nearby mountains, where you'll find a bunch of quirky boutiques and bars. There, you’ll encounter Cornell Wine Co. While it's primarily a wine bar and store, Cornell also increases the visibility of local vendors by selling artisanal goods and art alongside the company's wares.

The main attraction for thirsty travelers is the wine-tasting menu. The two-hour Signature Tasting includes reserved seating and a private session with a wine specialist who will take you through seven mouthwatering wines. For a full-tasting experience, you can add meat, cheese, or snacks to your reservation.

For anyone who operates a bit more spontaneously, it offers a Trio Tasting experience — no reservation required. Just rock up to the bar and pick three wines from the tasting menu. Snag a table, and you're ready to savor your drink and chat with your besties.

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13. Divine Vintage

Divine Vintage is an enterprise after our own hearts, combining outside-the-box thinking and a love of whimsy to create a vintage ship that hosts wine classes and tastings.

Shoppers come here to take advantage of sweet deals on throwback garments, classic decor, and period accessories. Between trying on a fedora for size and attempting to talk yourself out of taking home that two-tone sake carafe, leave some time for wine.

A noted international wine judge and winemaker leads the store's wine classes. Each session lasts about an hour and includes around five wines and some snacks to pad your tummy. Tastings take place on weekends and often feature sommelier-select bottles and submissions from local winemakers and distributors.

Find something you love? You can purchase it and enjoy it at home or uncork it next door at Divine Vintage's sister restaurant, Blue Plate Oysterette.

Wine Hikes

There's something about fresh air and physical activity that makes you work up a thirst. Fortunately, these tours of the great outdoors include a grape-based reward.

14. Malibu Family Wines Wine Hikes

Strap on sturdy shoes, apply sunscreen, and get ready for the Malibu Wine Hike. As you journey along the 2.5-mile loop around Saddlerock Ranch, you'll see stunning rock formations on the left and Chumash Native American cave paintings on the right.

Up ahead, you'll find the ranch's grapevines as a backdrop for your victory selfies. With any luck, you'll be photobombed by one of Saddlerock's resident sheep, llamas, alpacas, horses, goats, or donkeys as they poke their heads in the frame.

As you hike, you can listen to your guide spout fascinating trivia about Santa Monica wine, the history of Saddlerock, and even some natural features surrounding your group. After all that activity, the wine you drink before departing will taste even sweeter.

Embark on a Tantalising Wine Journey in Santa Monica

Your day spent wine tasting in Santa Monica, CA, can be as action-packed or relaxing as you wish. Make a glass of Sancerre a minor part of your trip, and concentrate on other unique things to do in Santa Monica. Or hop in the car and bask in the true nature of this pretty city's wine scene. Either way, you're sure to revel in everything you discover.

While you're in town, check out our shows in Santa Monica. Every performance is a tribute to heart-pounding fun and evocative imagery that's guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. Watch our spellbinding stories unfold as our acrobats perform otherworldly feats and beckon you to a world where dreams become reality. With us, you can escape to the unexpected.

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