Visions of Malibu: suntanned surfers looking for waves, starlets dodging paparazzi and wineries. Yes, wineries! As of July 2014, the region officially received recognition by the US Government as the Malibu Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area). This designation recognizes the unique character of the grapes grown in the vineyards dotting the area.
The Malibu Coast AVA wine region is bordered on the south by the Pacific Ocean and on the north by the Conejo Valley. Although the AVA encompasses some 45,000 acres of land, only about 200 acres are planted to vines, ensuring continued ecological diversity for the surroundings. The rich volcanic soil, coupled with cooling Pacific fog and the temperate Southern California climate, is producing award-winning wines and wooing visitors from around the world.
The first documented vineyard in Malibu was planted by Jose Bartolome Tapia during the 1820s on the Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit. Local pioneer Matthew Keller planted hundreds of acres of grape vines further up the coast in Solstice Canyon in 1857 and named it the Rising Sun Vineyard (his old stone cabin still stands, an easy hike from the Pacific Coast Highway). It wasn’t until 1985 that Michael and Kim McCarty planted the first modern day vineyard, named (appropriately enough) The Malibu Vineyard. Since then, over 50 additional vintners have taken advantage of the outstanding growing conditions that the area offers and are now producing world-class grapes. From the luscious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards overlooking the Pacific Ocean, to the bold and elegant Cabernets and Merlots grown high in the canyons, the Malibu Coast is truly a paradise for wine lovers.
Tastings rooms on the Malibu Coast and in the hills off of Mulholland Drive offer a wide variety of experiences from picnics overlooking stunning ocean vistas, to rockin’ summer concerts and private tours. But perhaps the most enticing element to a day in the Malibu Coast wine region is the opportunity to meet the vintners and winemakers themselves. Most wineries in the area are family-run operations and they take great pride in their vineyards, relishing the opportunity to introduce you to their wines.