Short stay or not, you will soon realize that there is more to Southern California’s capital of fame and surf than blue skies and sunshine. It features celebrity restaurants, trendy wine bars, well supplied wine stores, but also, trendy boutiques and valuable cultural attractions. Before being the capital of movie stars, the Los Angeles basin was used as farmland. The missionaries planted grapes to produce wine for mass. Not a “massive” production, but some well-established roots none the less. With the growth of the city, vineyards disappeared, letting real estate developers build houses and whole neighborhoods, more lucrative than rows of vines. But there is a surviving winery downtown L.A. to discover and some vineyards have recently popped up in prime real estate areas. Some Angelinos with enough means and land have started planting grapes again along the hills which border the city. Micro wineries are booming across California and Los Angeles is definitely part of the trend with sun, hills and funds widely available! Next to the Hollywood Sign, overlooking the Reservoir one can notice a beautiful vineyard covering a good portion of the hill.
The San Antonio Winery. Located downtown Los Angeles, this winery owned and operated by the Riboli family since 1917 is a cultural landmark in its own right. You get a glimpse of the past by looking at portraits of the ancestors and old maps of the city where vines were planted nearby. Today, no more local grapes are being used. They are selected in various areas of the Central and Northern Coast where the family owns vineyards. A central crushing facility is located in Paso Robles, but the fermenting of the whites and the blending and aging of all wines are still done in this downtown L.A. institution.
Complementary wine tours and tastings every day. Lunch & early dinner at the Maddalena Restaurant. 737 Lamar St, L.A., 90031, Tel.: +1 323 223-1401, www.sanantoniowinery.com
Moraga Winery. This beautiful 16 acre private vineyard in prime Bel Air real estate area dates back to 1989. It is not open to the public, but you can enjoy a virtual tour on the website. The rather limited production is available in selected restaurants (including the gourmet restaurant of the Getty, see below) and a few wine stores. Only 2 wines are produced: a luscious Sauvignon Blanc and a top quality red Bordeaux blend. 650 North Sepulveda Blvd, L.A., CA 90049, Tel.: +1 310 471-8560, www.moragavineyards.com
Griffith Park Observatory. Just above the elegant Los Feliz. area, this vintage yet operational science center served as a filming location for the last scenes of Nicholas Ray’s Rebel without a Cause (1955) starring James Dean. Superb views of the whole city, science museum, simple café. 2800 East Observatory Rd, L.A., CA 90027, Tel.: + 1 213 473-0800, www.griffithobs.org
This world famous institution has two distinct locations: the antiquity collection is in the original Malibu location and the rest of the artwork is set in the huge Getty Center, designed by architect Richard Meier and located in West Los Angeles. The latter hosts an elegant formal restaurant with amazing views and stylish cuisine where one can try the rare Moraga red and white wines produced just across the hill! If you want to stay in a gastronomic theme, follow the food and wine audio-guide which will take you through various galleries (see the intriguing German wine pot / photo). 1200 Getty Center Drive, L.A., CA 90049, Tel.: +1 310 440-7300, www.getty.edu/visit/
Restaurant Reservations Tel.: +1 310 440-6810 or online at www.getty.edu/visit/see_do/eat_shop.html
Not as famous as the Getty, LACMA or MOCA, this Westwood museum connected to UCLA is never disappointing in its exhibits which very often feature Southern Californian artists. Across the street, you can visit the grave of Marilyn Monroe at the Westwood Memorial Cemetery.
10899 Wilshire Blvd, Tél. (310) 443-7000, www.hammer.ucla.edu
3rd street Promenade / Santa Monica Place. This pedestrian street in Santa Monica is a well-known favorite among locals and tourists to take a stroll and shop at the same time, including at one of the few Abercrombie and Fitch L.A. locations. What is newer is the recently completed mall at the end of the street with high end boutiques, from Louis Vuitton to Barney’s, several restaurants, a wine bar and a great terrace overlooking the ocean. 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Tel.: + 1 310 260-8333, www.santamonicaplace.com
Downtown Los Angeles. Not so long ago, downtown L.A. was a city center during the day with various official government buildings, but one would not have thought to wander at night. It is now pulsating with life with institutions like the Walt Disney Concert hall designed by Frank Gehry (www.laphil.com) , L.A. Live with concerts and restaurants (www.lalive.com), and many galleries which one can visit in the evening every second Tuesday of the month. (www.downtownartwalk.org)
Trina Turk. A true Southern California designer for women, men and the home resuscitates the 60’s and 70’s in a fun, sun inspired way. 8008 W. 3rd St, L.A., CA 90048, Tel.: + 1 323 651 1382, www.trinaturk.com
Greenblatts. You wouldn’t suspect a deli near the Sunset Strip to be a good place to shop for wine, but Greenblatts will prove you wrong. A small boutique next to the restaurant, but a wide selection of wines and a very helpful staff with no attitude, ready to help you find the bottle that will fit your taste and budget.
8017 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood, Tel.: + 1 323 656-0606, www.greenblattsdeli.com
Michael’s. Presented to you at the table via IPad, the wine list is really extensive with 800 labels. You can travel from Napa Valley to Santa Maria Valley, but there are also some very local wines, including a pinot noir from owner Michael McCarty’s own Malibu Vineyard! Italian cuisine with a California twist. 1147 Third St., Santa Monica, Tel.: + 1 310 451 0843, www.michaelssantamonica.com
The Little Door. Charming restaurant with a Mediterranean cuisine crossing the sea to tackle Moroccan dishes, this romantic hideaway had so much success that it opened an annex a few doors down the street, The Little Next Door Brasserie (8142 W 3rd St, Tel.: +1 323 951-1010). Go for some small producers and hard to find wines. 8164 West 3rd Street, L.A., Tel: +1 323 951-1210, www.thelittledoor.com
Lukshon. After many trials and errors, chef/owner Sang Yoon managed to develop his own system for delivering wine on tap. According to him, absolutely no oxygen hits the wines and there’s no fresher way to taste the 10 wines by the glass. Wine list from around the world to match the pan Asian flavors of this sophisticated restaurant set in the trendy section of Culver City. 3239 Helms Ave., Culver City, CA 90232, Tel.: +1 310 202-6808, www.lukshon.com
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Kitchen. This rather recent Santa Monica wine bar and restaurant has already a large following for the nice selection of wines from the old and new world paired with seasonal and local small plate creations.
1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, Tel.: + 1 310 393-7050, www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com
Corkbar. California-centric, you’ll find about 70 California wines by the glass, from sparkling to dessert in this downtown institution. Outside patio or casual sitting at the bar, there is always a possibility to discover something new. Cheese, charcuterie and other small plates. 403 W. 12th St. L.A., Tel.: + 1 213 746-0050, www.corkbar.com
Barbrix. Set in the trendy Silverlake area, this voted “best wine bar” by Los Angeles Magazine has an eclectic selection of wines and a nice happy hour (6 to 7:30 pm and 10 pm to closing) with tasty small plates. If only the person pouring could smile a little more, then the pleasure would be complete!
242 Hyperion Ave. L.A. Tel.: + 1 323 662-2442, www.barbrix.com
Vertical Wine Bistro. Pay a visit to charming Old Town Pasadena, north of downtown L.A., and make a stop at this wine bar that carries over 400 wines from all over the world and up to 100 of them available by the glass. Tempting small plate menu.
70 N. Raymond Ave. Pasadena, Tel.: + 1 626 795-3999, www.verticalwinebistro.com
Vinoteca Farfalla. Sophisticated wine bar in the upper portion of Hillhurst Ave, in Los Feliz close to the Observatory. Perfect for a relaxing moment, sipping a glass of well selected and poured wine. Attentive and professional service to the extent of changing your glass at no charge if you regret your choice. Good Italian antipasti.
1968 Hillhurst Ave, L.A., Tel.: + 1 323 661-8070, www.vinotecafarfalla.com
Wally’s. This West side institution has one of the largest selection of wines in town, including rarities such as wines from Baja California, just South of the US- Mexican border (Valle de Guadalupe) that you will not find easily elsewhere.
2107 Westwood Blvd, L.A., Tel.: + 1 310 475-0606, www.wallywine.com
The Wine House. Beautiful selection of wines from all over the world and a great wine bar and restaurant (Upstairs 2) just above with wine tasting by the glass and interesting dining options. Popular prix fixe menu on Wednesdays.
2311 Cotner Ave., L.A., Tel.: + 1 310 479-3731, www.winehouse.com / Restaurant: + 1 310 231-0316, www.upstairs2.com
To know more about Los Angeles and its offerings, visit: www.discoverlosangeles.com