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The best winery day trips outside of Los Angeles

Written by
Erin Kuschner
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Wine drinkers have it pretty great in Southern California. With Napa and Sonoma close by, there's always the promise of a leisurely wine tasting weekend away. But what if you're looking for a wine tasting experience closer to home? These nearby tasting rooms are fit for a day trip, no matter what neighborhood in L.A. you live in. Just remember, folks—whether you're driving 45 minutes or two hours, you'll need a designated driver. Now: happy sipping!

Malibu Wines (Malibu): A visit to Malibu Wines is almost a rite of passage for Angelenos. It's easy to see why: the picturesque vineyard and tasting room boasts plenty of lawn space for picnicking (you can bring in food, but no alcohol); themed events include Friday night karaoke, Sunday yoga and mimosas and Thursday movie nights; and the pours behind the bar are fast and plentiful. For something a little more adventurous, Malibu Wine Safari combines the experience of a zoo and winery on its two-hour nature tour, where you'll get to personally feed animals while stopping to taste various wines from Saddlerock Ranch.

Rosenthal Winery (Malibu): It’s only fitting for a winery offering Malibu-grown vino to have a stellar ocean view. One step inside Rosenthal’s Winery is an idyllic escape from L.A.’s fast-paced vibes (and makes you forget the PCH congestion you endured to get there). Boasting beachside views, coastal breezes and a relaxing outdoor seating area, this casual wine hub is the perfect spot for a weekend tasting with the gang ($13 for four tastings). Live beachy tunes often permeate the courtyard from live local bands, along with a nearby food truck.

Cornell Winery (Cornell): Named after the city of Cornell, which hugs Agoura Hills, Cornell Winery is a rustic tasting room that celebrates wines sourced from L.A. to Monterey. Adirondack chairs are scattered outside, where you can take in the scenery before moving into the cabin. A gift shop and art gallery greets customers first before morphing into a bar. Tastings are $10 for five samples of wine, which you can enjoy at the bar or in the back room. And if you're hungry afterward, Old Place is a restaurant located right next door (and owned by the same people), and offers huge portions of comfort food in a rustic setting that makes you think you've gone back to a simpler time.  

The Ojai Vineyard (Ojai): Ojai is about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, and there are a couple great options for tasting wines in the region. The Ojai Vineyard specializes in pinot noir, syrah and a selection of white wine varietals, offering more than 300 different bottles in their cozy tasting room. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights highlight Library flights (wine that have aged 10-20 years), and food pairings are occasionally offered.

Cassa Barranca (Ojai): Cassa Barranca is another standout option in Ojai. While a sprawling, historic estate sits on the vineyard (and is available for private vacation rentals), the tasting room is located in downtown Ojai. Thirsty imbibers sip certified organic, award-winning varietals, available in two distinct flights. Afterward, take a stroll along the arcade where you can pop into clothing boutiques and ice cream shops. 

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery (Temecula): A two hour drive to Temecula will land you in some serious wine territory, and Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery is a great place to start. The 91-acre vineyard produces primarily sparkling wine and white wine, though a selection of dry red wine is also available. Visitors can bring a picnic lunch while they learn about the winemaking process and sample ($15 for five tastings), but be sure to try the winery's famous sourdough bread filled with oozing brie—it feeds around five people, so bring your friends.

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery (Temecula): Temecula is also home to Lorimar Vineyards & Winery, which boasts a Tuscan-style tasting room and beautiful views of Mount Palomar and the Santa Ana Mountains. Tastings range from $14 to $25, and are best enjoyed on the idyllic patio, where live music is played throughout the weekend year-round. 

Carhartt Vineyard (Los Olivos): Los Olivos is another popular town for wine tasting, and Carhartt Vineyard is one of the most popular places to go wine tasting here. The family owned and operated winery is located in Santa Ynez but you can taste their wares at the self-dubbed "world's smallest tasting room" in Los Olivos, where you'll probably be standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow imbibers. Still, it's a fantastic communal atmosphere, and the wines at Carhartt are exceptional varietals.

The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail (Santa Barbara): This isn't a particular winery but a collection of wine tasting rooms, which might be one of the best ways to explore Santa Barbara's rich wine culture. You'll find a half-dozen tasting rooms situated in the historic El Paseo Complex, and even more in the eclectic Funk Zone. Visitors can pay per flight at each tasting room, or you can splurge on a $150 membership card (good for a round of free tastings at each). 

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