As restaurants and businesses open their doors again since vaccinations are being distributed across California, some of the best wineries in Orange County, California are awaiting your arrival. The wine tasting experience has always been an art in itself, and many people seek out wine tasting experiences to understand everything behind the perfect glass.
There are several wine bars and wineries open in Orange County that are ready to guide your palate in a wine tasting. With everything from private wine tasting rooms to newly furnished outdoor wine and dine arrangements, there’s a handful of wineries in Orange County that are worth checking out in your exploration of wine. Whether you’re training to be the next best sommelier or just trying to narrow down your favorite varietals, we’ve rounded up some of the best wineries in Orange County to suit you just right.
Laguna Canyon Winery
Laguna Canyon Winery is located in Laguna Beach, California and has been offering wine tastings in their unique venue to the community for more than 10 years now. J.J Huber, founder of Laguna Canyon Winery, had a vision to conceptualize his third winery with an Italian-themed aesthetic. Adopting the winemaking methods and equipment that come from Italy, Huber has created one of the best wineries in Orange County.
Depending on how large your party is, tasting rooms vary in price but have all the same benefits. All tastings include a chat with the winemaker and an overview on how award-winning boutique wines are crafted. If you’re looking for a more private and inclusive event, the winery holds a barrel tasting event in which you and your guests are able to taste from more than 50 barrels of wine. With their five-star chefs already having the culinary talent to prepare a good accompanying meal, all you’ll need now is to pair some of their best wine sourced from Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
This 4-hour dining experience has been around since 1972. The Hobbit has a thousand different selections of wine to pair with their French-inspired menu, so the US$96 you pay per person is said to be quite worth it. With limited seating in dining rooms available due to California restrictions and guidelines, your chance at this unique all-inclusive dinner and wine tasting is just a reservation away.
The dinner is broken up into three different sections or in this case “Acts.” Act I begins in the wine cellar, where you are provided with the evening’s menu. Individually plated hors d’oeuvres are served alongside their Hobbit Champagne while you explore an endless selection of wine for dinner. Thanks to sommeliers Matt McKinney and Amy Cody guiding you through the extensive selection, each course should always be paired with the perfect glass of wine.
Act II begins with a lightly prepared seafood and meat course, followed by an intermission on the patio while your table is reset for dinner. Act III continues with a sorbet palate-cleanser followed by the main entree and then concludes with dessert paired with your choice from a selection of coffee drinks, liqueurs and fine cognacs.
Seal Beach Winery
With winemaker Michael Dawson having scholastic history of enology, viticulture, biology and chemistry, Seal Beach Winery has had a huge breakthrough with their local boutique winery. Although the space is one of the smaller, more intimate wine bars in Orange County to visit, the dedication and commitment to the quality of wine served here is why locals keep coming back.
Seal Beach Winery sources their grapes from vineyards across the Central Coast, and Dawson blends his knowledge for wine with technical innovations that stem from his expertise in science. Come prepared to taste 2016 Vintage wines including Dawson’s Taylor Noelle Wines from the Santa Ynez Valley; a light bodied summer GSM wine with a balance of 60% Grenache and 20% each of Syrah and Mourvedre. This is the perfect spot if you’re looking for lively conversation and a good US$6 selection for wine Wednesdays.
With praise and recognition from OC Weekly as Best Wine Bar in 2019, this modern infused wine bar has become quite popular in the hip town of Costa Mesa. Locals come here for their scientifically visual wine flights and to discover the rich flavors brought out by their featured red and white wines. Offering more than 70 wines by the glass and tasting flights that change regularly, the crew at Wine Lab is dedicated to finding and sharing unique wines from around the world.
From full-bodied Gehricke Zinfandels to light-bodied Sauvignon Blancs, their wine menu may not be the largest of them all, but thanks to their dedicated staff, the experience is well worth it. Happy hours are available from 12-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and all day Sunday, so head down to Wine Lab for a flight of wine that looks like it just came back from a chemistry lab.
Native Orange County resident Josh Frisby has had a passion for wine and the winemaking process since he established Frisby Cellars back in 2008. Producing their wines in Paso Robles, this urban winery has three locations scattered across cities like Rancho Mission Viejo, Dana Point Harbor and Lake Forest. Due to the effects of COVID-19, their Lake Forest location is only open Saturday and Sunday for wine tasting, while their location in Dana Point is open all week.
Thanks to the 25-year winemaking consulting team, Frisby has established his barrel-aged, blended bottles of wine all around California, specifically in Orange County. Committed to producing handcrafted wines that highlight the complexity of each vineyard in Paso Robles, Frisby Cellars offers everything from tasting flights to private tours and bottles for your wine rack back at home. What started off as a passion for winemaking has turned into one of Lake Forest’s most visited wine bars.
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