A Wine Lover’s Guide to Los Angeles
Southern California may never have the wine tourism draw of Napa, Sonoma, or Paso Robles, but oenophiles still have plenty of delicious wines to taste and buy in SoCal. The Los Angeles wine scene especially has grown a lot over the last decade. With a new downtown winery, plenty of tasting rooms, wine bars and specialty stores, events, and even a wine safari, there’s plenty to see and sip when its wine o’clock.
The thriving LA wine culture is actually a return to its roots. Before the film industry took root, LA was the nation’s commercial winemaking hub and was blanketed by vineyards. The San Gabriel mission made the first vintages in 1796 for religious services, but secular vineyards were being planted as early as 1784 in what is now Glendale, La Cañada-Flintridge, and Eagle Rock. Ventures took off in downtown in 1833 when Jean-Louis Vignes planted vines from his native Bordeaux for a winery. (Vignes Street is named in his honor.) By the mid-19th century, there were more than 100 wineries within the city limits, most of which lined what are now Alameda and San Pedro streets.The industry crashed with Prohibition, the Depression, urbanization, and vine diseases so the epicenter of California winemaking shifted north.