Los Angeles wine bars: A Decanter guide

Sunset Boulevard in Los AngelesSunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has long been a drinking town, from the heady first days of Hollywood’s fledgling movie industry to the mid-century Rat Pack era of Manhattans and Martinis. Cocktails rather than wine have ruled the scene, despite Los Angeles‘ status as the southern anchor city of America’s largest wine-producing state.

When wine bars started appearing in the early aughts, beverage directors focused on the higher end of the market; recommendations for fun, democratic places to sip and learn or simply relax were, admittedly, according to those in the industry, too few and far between.

Today, the Los Angeles wine landscape has been flipped on its head, with dozens of new spots opening in the last few years tailored to their most important clients: their neighbours. The city must be tackled in sections, thanks to its notorious sprawl and commensurate traffic. Community has become the key driver in successful business models, especially in the era of high rent, inflation and heavy competition.

You cannot conquer LA in a day. Nor should you try.

Here’s a guide to the city’s latest wine spots, spanning a plethora of neighbourhoods.

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Melanie Wine Bar

This dark and moody date spot in Beverly Grove attracts residents from nearby Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and The Grove. An excellent wine list by Stephen Sherry encompasses small producers, overlooked regions and offbeat grapes like Romorantin and Hungarian Hárslevel?, as well as hard-to-find Grenache by Santa Barbara’s A Tribute to Grace. Glasses range from $15-25, with bottles in the $70-120 range. A full-service dinner menu to encourage drinkers to linger enhances the offer, while a wine club and bi-monthly Saturday night tasting class fosters friendship between denizens.

Wife and the Somm

In 2021, Christopher Lucchese and Christy Lindgren Lucchese opened a retail wine shop in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Glassell Park, just northeast of downtown LA. A response to demand from their neighbours wishing for better dining options replete with good wine. The duo expanded the concept into a wine bar and restaurant. Chris works as the wine director, selecting small producers, family wineries and low-intervention wines for a diverse customer base that spreads awareness through word-of-mouth.

The wine list, which ranges from $10 glasses of easygoing fizz to $40 Coravin pours, plus rare vintages by the bottle, changes frequently with the menu and season. At any point in the day, you’ll find Angelenos with their dogs hanging out on the front patio, others relaxing beneath the vines on the sun-dappled back deck, or in-the-know sommeliers sidled up to the zinc-wrapped circular bar inside.

People dining at a table in Los Angeles wine bar Wife and the Somm

Glassell Park’s Wife and the Somm, northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Wife and the Somm

Tabula Rasa Bar & Shop

This popular spot in East Hollywood’s Thai Town opened in 2016 and is owned by Zach Negin and Nicole Dougherty. Though billed as a neighbourhood bar, there is a strong lean towards the natural wine world, and the venue hosts RAW Wine festival afterparties and winemaker events which attract the LA beverage industry crowd.

For an expensive city, daily happy hour offers a superb deal with $9 wines by the glass, helping novices and budget drinkers feel at home amidst a cellar deep with old Burgundy and grower Champagne. One local critic declared the vibe ‘chicly battered’, though you can spin your own interpretation of the bohemian space spanning two outdoor patios and a dark, sultry interior come night. The pair also own a sister retail shop in North Hollywood.

View of wall behind the counter at Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa. Credit: Tabula Rasa

Buvons Natural Wine Bar + Shop

Founded in December 2021 by Alicia Kemper, Buvons focuses on small-production, natural and low-intervention wines served in an elegant yet low-key spot in the Zefaria neighbourhood of Long Beach. Kemper pours mainly French producers…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/los-angeles-wine-bars-a-decanter-guide-524362/