Wine and Dine Your Way Through Laguna Beach

National Wine Day is around the corner, and we’ve created a comprehensive wine-tinerary for you to go on a full wine tour through town.

We are absolute wine lovers in Laguna Beach! Complete with classic and modern tasting rooms, stunning views, varietals of wine, and rounded out with restaurants for food and wine pairings, we’ve got the perfect setup for you to simply sip along. 

Ocean at Main  

Our journey starts at Craig Armstrong’s New American restaurant with a refined beach flair and overall radiance that graces the room. We’ve chosen this spot for lunch because 1) the cuisine here is simply superb, 2) you’ll need some sustenance in your stomach first, and 3) Ocean at Main also happens to have a wonderful wine list. While their selection by the glass is rotational, their in-house sommelier hand picks excellent varietals coming from both the states and abroad. We ordered the Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare Tartine, and paired it with a glass of Argyle’s 2014 Brut Rosé from Willamette Valley, Oregon. While both on their own are excellent, together, they created a crisp, bright and clean harmony. Looking for something a bit more filling? We also ordered the Gourmet Oam Burger with Caramelized Onions, Clothbound Cheddar, Wagyu Aioli, and Truffle Fries. This umami filled burger matched marvelously with a red glass of Chateau Nerthe’s 2015 Cotes du Rhone Villages from Rhone Valley, a beautifully smooth red that cut the richness yet enhanced the flavors of the burger. 

Laguna Canyon Winery

Now that you have properly fed yourself, it’s time for a tasting at one of Laguna’s classic wineries. Two Canadian brothers have grapes shipped from Napa and Sonoma directly to their urban winery right on Laguna Canyon Road, where the entire wine making process takes place. The oak barrels on display are not just decoration but beautiful blends aging in front of your eyes. Luckily for you, this winery’s tasting approach is as easygoing as that Southern California lifestyle. Instead of having to choose a full glass or pre-selected flight, they charge per one ounce pour so that you have autonomy over what you want to try. Even luckier, they have a wide selection of many remarkable wines, being most well-known and awarded for their varietal blends. Have one of the passionately knowledgeable staff members walk you through the flavor profiles of wines you are interested in tasting and create your own customized flight.  

Some of our personal favorites: their signature Trevini, Purple Paws (a portion of which is donated to helping homeless pets), and their Chardonnay. If you like sweet, ask for a blend of the Brut Sparkling and Raspberry Sparkling for a very crisp, fruity cocktail.

McClain Wine Cellars

Up next, welcome the new kid on the block. McClain Wine Cellars is industrial, contemporary and hip, perfectly placed in the already artsy Hive complex along Laguna Canyon Road. Owners Jason and Sofia McClain are a couple from Southern California that have grown in their love and knowledge of wine over their years of wine tastings with friends and a myriad of travel experiences. While their vineyards are in Santa Ynez, their only tasting room where you can get wines by the glass or by flight is right in Laguna Beach. Why, you may ask? The answer comes down to the fact that the McClains value family, and they want their business to be near their family home where they raise three daughters.  

Zeytoon Café 

It’s officially time for a snack, and one of our favorite Mediterranean spots in town will be your ideal situation. Zeytoon Café delivers trustworthy Mediterranean food packed with bold flavors and spices. They also happen to have an underrated wine selection, available by the bottle or glass, that they purposefully rotate to highlight and partner with different vineyards. Grab some shareable bites, like their fantastic Baba Ghanouj with Pita Bread, and head up to their vibrant ocean view rooftop where you can take in the sunshine while sipping some wine. 

Montage Laguna Beach 

We’ve already done a lot today, and it’s time to decompress a bit with some vino and views. There is a deep sense of relaxed luxury here, an authentic quality that simply cannot be imitated. Walk straight to the center back of the lobby, and take in the view of their impressive pool and property that seemingly extends all the way out to the Pacific. Then, head downstairs to The Loft and ask to be seated outside on their terrace for equally stunning scenery. As you watch the sun settle into that golden hour, order a glass of white and/or rosé from their California-heavy wine selection to pair with some light, seafood-focused plates. Unlike any other Shrimp Cocktail, The Loft’s distinct version is deliciously prepared with cajun remoulade, hass avocado and charred lemon. Enjoy this and their tender Charred Spanish Octopus, both fresh and fitting as you watch life on the horizon slow down and hear faint noises of waves gently crashing in and out.

Wine Gallery Laguna

This last stop is a treat. Owner Chris Olsen is both an avid enthusiast and aficionado, sincerely versed in all things wine. If he is in, let Chris walk you through recommendations and lead you on a wine journey where you are guaranteed to learning something new. From France to Greece to Spain to Napa, his collection is stacked with rare and limited-production variety. However, our favorite award always goes to his own label of wine: a complex and nuanced yet lusciously smooth Pinot Noir called Mile 216. You can only get this, and his other brand 154 exclusively at his restaurant. Trust us and purchase a bottle to take home. Partner your premier wine with some appetizers, at least one salad to share (we love the Farro Salad with Haloumi), and their signature wood-fired pizza. With its spectacular smoldering crust, balanced flavor combinations and bubbling cheese, all washed down by a quality glass, your final pizza and wine pairing will be a glorious end to this wine(derful) day. 

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About the Author
Caitlin Sakdalan

Caitlin Sakdalan

Caitlin Sakdalan is a social media influencer and food writer. Through her passion for food as an experiential connector of people and cultures, coupled with expertise in social and digital, she shares her extensive food knowledge and experiences to thousands of followers daily. Caitlin is one of Dovetale's "5 best Influencers to watch in 2017," and her photography is featured on Tasting Table, Yahoo, Huffington Post, and other online outlets. Follow her on Instagram @befatbehappy.

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