Malibu Discovery Tours Toast Malibu Wine Country

Saturday, 28 Jul 2012, 1:52:00 AM

Brenton Garen

The Malibu Wine Region is home to more than 50 wineries.
Photo by Brenton Garen
The Malibu Wine Region is home to more than 50 wineries.

What better way to explore Malibu wine country with a glass of wine in hand? Or how about several glasses at a handful of cellar doors that are some of Southern California’s best-kept secrets?

That’s exactly what Malibu Discovery Tours has been offering since December 2009 through its Malibu Wine Trail Tasting Tour, which offers several options for wine connoisseurs and amateurs alike in the region that boasts more than 50 wineries within the Santa Monica Mountains.

Long-time Santa Monica resident Ken Fasola decided to start his own wine tour company as he saw the industry growing.

There’s no need to worry about driving under the influence. Fasola or one of his tour guides pick up tour-goers in one of its luxury vehicles from most locations in Santa Monica and the Westside before hitting the Pacific Coast Highway and up into the mountains.

Each tour includes three tasting room stops followed by lunch with wine at an area restaurant.

The first stop on most tours is typically Rosenthal’s Tasting Room on the PCH, about 300 yards north of Topanga.

On a recent Sunday tour, Fasola explained to the full tour group of 11 that owner George Rosenthal was one of the first to plant vineyards back in 1987.

“The Rosenthal Estate, which is about 250 acres, is up on Kanan Road in the Malibu Wine Region,” Fasola says.

“Every tour on the itinerary is a little bit different because of what times the tasting rooms open. Most of the time we start at Rosenthal.”

Here the tour group sampled a flight of four tasting glasses from its Surfrider collection.

The tasting room’s two staff enthusiastically talked about each wine as they poured, explaining the story behind the grapes that are grown four miles inland and 1400 feet above the coastal fog.

The next stop for the day was Cornell Winery and Tasting Room, which is tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Steeped in history, Cornell Winery maintains its rustic appeal while offering an upscale wine country experience.

“It’s probably the most beautiful tasting room,” Fasola says. “What’s unique about it is that they represent wine growers from all over the Malibu Wine Region whereas the other tasting rooms only offer tastings of wines from their vineyards. Cornell has wines from the Santa Barbara area too.”

Tim and Denise Skogstrom own and operate Cornell. Tim brings more than 20 years experience in the wine industry and has managed some of the most prestigious wineries from around the globe.

The rich history and traditions of this area have enabled them to create a truly unique experience.

The third stop was the Malibu and Vine tasting room at Malibu Golf Club.

Fasola says this is the tasting room of the Semler family – the biggest grape grower in Malibu.

“Their ranch is 1200 acres, but they have about 90 acres planted of vineyards,” he says.

On weekends, Malibu and Vine features live music on the grassed area outside the tasting area that overlooks the golf course. This tasting room offered two flights to choose from that are written on a chalkboard – the Saddlerock and Semler.

Kristy’s Wine Bar at Point Dume was the fourth and final stop on the tour.

It is the perfect location that carries many local wines with breathtaking views of the ocean.

After the late-lunch, the six-hour adventure came to an end as the tour made its way back to Santa Monica to drop-off everyone where they were picked up.

Fasola says his wine tours are great for both locals and tourists.

“The majority of our business is locals who are looking for a day vacation or a family get together,” he says. “It’s also a great corporate event or date idea where you can enjoy a great day getaway.”

For more information or to book a wine tour, contact Malibu Discovery Tours at 310.393.6555 or visit

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