It’s (probably, definitely) no secret that I love wine. If there’s one thing me and Rhianna have in common, it’s that wine glasses *filled with wine* are our favorite accessory. Call me a fan, call me a connoisseur, heck you can even call me a wino – who cares! The girl loves fermented grapes of all kinds and she dosen’t care who knows it! Needless to say, it should come as no surprise that I have visited every establishment under the “wine bar” category within the entire county at least once. If you’re looking for the city’s best places to sip and swirl, look no further than these spots:
Bar Covell, in my opinion, is LA’s “OG” wine bar. It was opened in 2010 by Dustin Lancaster (Cafe Stella) and Matthew Kaner (Silverlake Wine), and to this day it’s arguably most Angeleno’s favorite wine bar. You’ll notice a trend shortly that whatever these two gentlemen touch turn to liquid gold, but Covell is classic. Always busy, always reliable, always excellent. I actually had my 27th birthday (a few moons ago) in their private room next door and could not recommend it more for large parties.
Please allow me to introduce you to another genius Dustin Lancaster / Matthew Kaner project, Augustine Wine Bar in Sherman Oaks. Similar to Covell, Augustine is consistently packed, consistently cozy, and consistently curated. This is one of those wine bars I would gladly drive 45 minutes for just for the atmosphere *and the snacks. If you’re in Sherman Oaks, this is the local spot to stop in at.
One of my favorite things about New York City is the volume of little wine bars you can stumble upon on just about any given street. Mignon in DTLA reminds me of that. There’s likely just one person working the whole bar, they’ve got great cheese and charcuterie plates, vintage-inspired decor, and most importantly – great wines. Mignon specializes in small production, natural wines from all over the globe with an emphasis on the Old World, so there you have it!
LA Wine, located in Chinatown, is the most recent wine bar to open in Los Angeles and it’s arguably my current favorite on the list. I love that LA Wine truly feels “local”, I love that they feature California wines (mostly Central Coast – my personal favorite), I love that their wines are actually affordable, and I love that they’re open late on weekends! LA Wine is just a solid neighborhood joint, and a great place to visit before or after dinner at Lasa, or Howlin’ Ray’s.
Another beloved Chinatown favorite for wine lovers is Oriel. Oriel is another stunning Dustin Lancaster establishment and promises the ideal setting in which to sip on French heavy wines. The space really is an Instagram dream between the gorgeous long bar and the patio filled with maroon colored furniture. Oriel also offers a full French Bistro style menu so definitely come hungry.
While it might not be what you consider a “traditional” wine bar to be, The Blending Lab on West 3rd is still my top 3 favorite places to sip and swirl in Los Angeles. Owned by one of the coolest couples in town – Michael and Magda – the duo has truly created something special and one-of-a-kind, they’re even personally responsible for quite possibly my favorite hashtag in existence: #winegeleno. The minute you step in to this tasting room you feel at home. And not only can you simply just sample their very own wines, at the Blending Lab you can play with blending your own wines too. Head to their site for a full list of their blending classes, otherwise, pay them a visit Wednesday – Sunday. Make sure you give Cafe Au Lait – their ADORABLE pup and official mascot – a big kiss for me.
Do you happen to love French food and wine? Organic wine? Happy Hour? Then let me tell you, Belle Vie in Brentwood/West LA really is all of that and a side of pomme frites. “Cozy” seems to be the M.O. for wine bars, but if there’s one place in LA that truly embodies that characteristic it’s Belle Vie. It is truly a neighborhood gem, French to its core, and an absolute personal favorite of mine.
Talk about a best-kept secret… I have been visiting Pour Haus in the Arts District for their happy hour for as long as I can remember. Not only do they seriously know what they’re doing with the curation of their wines, they’re there to provide you with the best time possible at reasonable prices. Their Happy Hour, for example, is 7 days a week from 4 – 7 pm. They offer $5 snacks as well as a pretty solid list of $5 glasses of wine. OH and it’s cute. Need I say more?
I like to say Tabula Rasa is the place to go for the “cool” wine drinker. And I mean that in the best way possible – I love a good hipster haven. Walk in to the Thai Town staple to find a dimly lit long bar filled with groups of young folks sipping and snacking. Tabula Rasa feels like another solid neighborhood type joint and it’s clear that it was devolved with exactly that in mind. I personally travel quite a distance for that feeling, and it’s why I love this place so much.
And the award for greatest wine bar name goes to…. I just learned that the place is named for local writer John Fante, whose main character / alter ego Arturo Bandini in his book Ask the Dust was a struggling writer in Los Angeles. Bar Bandini suits its Echo Park surroundings with its rustic decor, warm dim lighting, and top-notch line up of natural wines and craft beers. I have always found it fun and different that Bar Bandini has quite a few wines on tap – something you don’t see too often and should definitely experience.
I loved Esters the moment I laid eyes on it. Esters is an absolute stunning Santa Monica beauty – really, major kudos to the designer because every time I go in here I snap about 200 photos, give or take. What you get in unparalleled ambiance you pay for in prices, but I will say that one of my favorite things about Esters is that they’re one of the few wine bars that are open during the day. Sometimes you need a glass of wine at 1pm, know what I mean? I also love Esters Sunday wine tasting events – they’re held *almost every Sunday, tickets are usually just $25 per person, and every week there’s a new theme. I have been introduced to so many regions and vineyards thanks to Esters and I am personally grateful to them for that.
This may be the latest and greatest Matthew Kaner creation but it’s definitely the one I’ve been most excited about because it’s his first full restaurant venture. Of course, they rely heavily on the wine, but Good Measure has an intentional focus on the food as well. I love the Atwater Village location, the food is fantastic, and their excellent wine selections span the globe. All I have to say about it is that Matthew Kaner has done it again, and I hope he never stops.
HOW this place is not talked about more often is just beyond me. Stanley’s actually deserves to be at the top of the list because it is everything you’d hope it would be. Locally owned, stylish, is a wine bar but also a wine store, everyone there is insanely knowledgable and friendly, and the wines are all fairly priced AND fantastic. It’s worth noting they offer more than just wine (they have beer and liquor as well), but their wine selection is definitely the reason I am a frequent customer. If you find yourself thirsty in Downtown Culver City, it’s easy to do, definitely swing by Stanley’s for a glass.
If there were an ideal place to drink wine with friends on a patio at a wine bar in LA, it would be at Bacari W. 3rd. Bacari is definitely more of a place to drink wine vs a place to learn about wine… if you catch my drift. It’s fun, it’s easy going, but this is not the place to find a crazy extensive wine list. Which is fine! Sometimes you want wine and zero fuss! It’s also worth mentioning that they have an EPIC happy hour, as well as a “90-minute open bar” option on house wines for $25 a person. So there’s that.