I’ve always been jealous of my friends who live near Sonoma County. At any time they can jump in the car for a short trip to wine country and taste some of the best grapes this glorious state has to offer. Sigh… in SoCal we don’t have that luxury, or so I thought. Last week I found three unique wine bars right in my backyard. I was pleasantly shocked by the variety each place offered. Both in tasting experiences and varietals.
First up Everson Royce.
At first glance it looks like a regular wine & spirit shop. But travel farther to the back and you find the tasting room. I stumbled upon Everson Royce a few weeks prior. I was waiting for my dinner reservation and came in for a tasting to kill some time. The staff is as friendly as they are knowledgeable. They always have a variety of wines to taste. On certain evenings they hold wine maker events. I was told I should come back for one of these special tastings. Well I did. This event was for guest wine maker, Olivier Leriche from France. Three very different wines for $15. I would classify these as small glasses more than generous tasting pours. You really get your money’s worth. All the wines were from his “Domaine Des Accoles” collection.
You can view the wines we tasted in the adjacent picture. At the winemaker’s request we started with the middle red, then a very punchy red called Gryphe and finished with a Chardonnay which is listed first. It was a nice change to go out of order. Usually you have to start with whites. This time we didn’t and it worked. That’s what I love about this event. The winemaker himself was on hand to explain how best to enjoy the flight and answer any questions you may have about his selection. The wine flight is available for a discounted purchase. I had to get a bottle of Gryphe it was so unique. After making my purchase I met Olivier and thanked him for a wonderful evening. I definitely recommend signing up for their email list to get updates on upcoming events. There is a whiskey tasting on March 28th that sounds amazing! Check out all the information here: http://eversonroyce.com/
Or follow them on Twitter @evrowine
Next up Bodega Wine Bar
This wine bar has multiple locations in Los Angeles. With a motto of, “Stop Sniffing and Just Drink,” I can see why this laid back wine drinking bar is so popular. The Pasadena location is located upstairs in a small strip mall. But once you’re inside you forget all that. Grab a seat on the patio if available. If it’s really crowded head to the quieter room towards the back. This way you can actually converse while you drink. I love the bodega manifesto. It further proves to break the pretentious stereotype of wine tasting.
Luckily I had some friends with me and we were ready to share some eats and taste some wine! Here are my top Not to be Missed picks.
Food: Bacon Wrapped Medjool Dates W/ Manchego, Caprese Bites with Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes. I also tried the Margherita Flat Bread which was good, I just wish it was a little crispier. Definitely worth a second try on my next visit.
Drinks: The Curator from South Africa (a unique blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay & Viognier. So much Yum!!) and Le Poussin Rose from France. If you’re more of a beer drinker than a wine drinker there is plenty to choose from. One of my drinking companions ordered a Grapefruit Sculpin IPA which had a really balanced citrus flavor.
You can check out their full menu here: http://bodegawinebar.com/
Last stop: Vertical Wine Bistro
Travel up the narrow staircase adorned with twinkling lights and enter the Vertical Wine Bistro. Perched above Old Town Pasadena, this place offers excellent ambiance and terrific wine flights. I love a good wine flight. It’s a great way to discover something I might love without committing to a whole glass. After that Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier beauty from the last wine bar, I was on the hunt for another white to capture my palette. I found it in the middle glass of my chosen wine flight. A Stolpman Roussane from Ballard Canyon. It was so good that when I finished sharing my flight with my table of friends we had to order just one more glass of the the Roussane. We also added a cheese plate because wine and cheese are one of the best pairings in the world. Like pizza and beer they are just better when they’re together. Seated at a table in the corner near the window I was able to look out on quaint Old Town Pasadena while having a perfect view of the bar. A great spot for people watching. Tonight there was a DJ spinning classic hip hop along with some eclectic pop hits that had us all going, “Oh…..I remember this one…” It wasn’t long before we were up dancing and laughing as we sang along with the lyrics. Some of which I hadn’t uttered in years, yet new every word. Stop by Vertical Wine Bistro on a Friday night and check it out for yourself. So much fun! Or check out their “Happy Time” specials. Weekdays 4-6 and all day on Sunday to enjoy food and drink deals.
More info here: http://verticalwinebistro.com/