By Victor Carno
Orange County is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking of wineries and vineyards, but rest assured, a trip to Paso Robles or Temecula isn’t necessary to experience an aerated, full bodied wine with an oaky finish and heady legs. For those who don’t speak wine, that just means “good wine.” Cut the travel time and highfalutin terminology with wineries right here in our backyard.
Take a tour through these highly rated Orange County wineries as you venture up the coast this winter, or at any other time of the year.
Rancho Capistrano Winery
26755 Verdugo Street, San Juan Capistrano
Contact: 949.481.6682, www.ranchocapistranowinery.com.
With a record of 10 “Best of San Juan Capistrano” People’s Choice Horseshoe Awards wins, Rancho Capistrano Winery in San Juan Capistrano is an ideal place to start your wine tour through Orange County. Head winemaker Kylie Huffman and Chef Adrian de La Torre combine to make a powerful one-two punch of both great wine and great food.
“We originally intended to have some food just to keep it weird, but our food menu kept growing and growing by popular demand,” Owner Kyle Franson said. “I’m partial to our truffle mushroom flatbread, paired with a smoky Tempranillo.”
Stop by any day of the week for a $15 wine tasting that includes a flight of five wines. With over 50 different wine selections and growing, it won’t be hard to find a wine suitable for any palate.
Laguna Canyon Winery
2133 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
Contact: 949.715.9463, www.lagunacanyonwinerey.com.
Brothers Marlowe and Darren Huber brought 20 years of winemaking experience from British Columbia to Laguna Beach in 2003. Since they opened the winery in Laguna Beach 15 years ago, they have continued to provide award-winning, artisan wine to Orange County locals and tourists alike. With five award-winning wines from the 2017 Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition, the Huber brothers offer a wine tasting experience that rivals any.
Fan favorites include their savory Sonoma Valley syrah and “Purple Paws,” a fruit-forward red blend that donates a portion of proceeds to a homeless animal shelter. Wine tastings are $2 per taste and are offered every day of the week except Mondays.
Orange Coast Winery
869 W. 16th Street, Newport Beach
Contact: 949.645.0400, www.orangecoastwinery.com.
As you make your way up the coast, you would be remiss to pass over Orange Coast Winery. With a graduate degree in food science, co-owner Doug Wiens knows exactly what goes into a superior wine.
“Superior wine starts with excellent vineyard management,” Wiens said when discussing his approach to providing his customers with wine connoisseur-grade vino.
Debbie Wiens, co-owner of Orange Coast Winery and wife to Doug, brings the ambiance and personality to the business. Together, they produce over 16 different wine selections ranging from dark cabernet sauvignons to tropical viogniers.
As the holiday season is upon us and winter approaches, Wine Club Administrator Courtney Marton recommends their Endless Summer Big Wave ($59 a bottle) red blend to accompany any holiday meal.
“The Big Wave is a blend of cabernet franc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon and really pairs well with any hearty meat and potatoes meal.”
Orange Coast Winery offers tastings for $20 and includes six wines. A variety of whites, reds and sparkling wines are available to try too.
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