Although it’s rare to find wine grapes being grown in Orange County these days, that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to taste wine in unusual settings.
This is particularly true in the South County, where McClain Cellars in Laguna Beach and Rancho Capistrano Winery in San Juan Capistrano welcome guests as they make their way home from the beach, prepare to attend the Sawdust Festival or relax after exploring one of California’s historic missions.
The Laguna Beach tasting room is one of three that McClain Cellars operates (the others being in Solvang and Buellton), and it’s located on Laguna Canyon Road, which connects the 405 freeway with the community of Laguna Beach.
The tasting lounge has been described as “hip, modern, industrial and luxurious.” It offers varietal red and white wines as well as blends for tasting, with both indoor and outdoor spots for sipping, savoring and perhaps assessing.
Cheese and charcuterie are available to accompany the wines, as well as something you don’t normally encounter at a tasting room: gourmet popcorn. Live jazz and blues music enhances the experience each weekend.
A bit farther south, San Juan Capistrano has long been known as a paradise for walkers. In recent years, Rancho Capistrano Winery has become one of the more popular destinations because it offers so many wines crafted from juice brought in from numerous growing regions around the world.
A popular draw is the winery’s “Elevated Wine and Chocolate Pairing,” a 60-minute experience that includes five wines and five local artisan chocolates, with a guide offering lots of information to help expand one’s wine and chocolate IQ. Talk about painless learning!
So the next time you find yourself in Orange County — perhaps for a visit to Disneyland or to attend Knott’s Berry Farm’s annual “Knott’s Scary Farm” event — set aside a little time for some wine tasting.
McClain Cellars and Rancho Capistrano Winery offer Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara wine country-level experiences in their own unique settings.