Many of those bars remain and have been joined over the last couple of decades by ones more likely to sling Syrah than suds. Long Beach’s vibrant wine bar scene is voluminous and expanding, complete with tastings, music, food and, in at least one case, art classes. There are so many wine bars in the citythat we needed two days for this tour and it just scratches the surface. So, stay hydrated, pace yourself, have a bit to eat – we have recommendations for that, too – and bottoms up!
Stop 1: Willmore Wine Bar is located in Bixby Knolls, a retail, dining and entertainment hub in the northern part of the city. When Ernie Henson opened his shop a decade ago, he said hewanted it to be an upscale experience with a neighborhood feel. He’s accomplished that by offering not only award-winning wine but tastings and unique menu items like Farmers Market Minestrone and Irish Stew with homemade soda bread. It’s an easy walk down Atlantic Boulevard to Cheese Addiction, a shop so devoted to the curd that it not only has a huge selection, but classes, clubs and, if you so desire, cheese wedding cakes. If you’d rather satisfyyour sweet tooth, pop in around the corner on Long Beach Boulevard to Bundts on Melrose,where the bite-sized bundt cakes will melt in your mouth so fast you’ll end up having another.
And then, maybe, another.
Stop 2: Rideshare to Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach where you’ll find Water’s Edge Winery. The city’s first winery sources its grape juice globally from the likes of Spain, South Africa and Argentina, then ferments it locally. The wine is consistently great, and the space,which used to be a nightclub complete with Go-Go dancer cages, is vast and indoor/outdoor.
Stop 3: You’ll be faced with a sweet dilemma when you’re done: do you go to nearby Romeo Chocolates for artisanal chocolate – many with wine pairings of their own – or go next door to The Pie Bar to enjoy handcrafted pies of all sorts, whether they be key lime, vegan or pot pie if you’re really hungry.
Stop 4: It’s an easy half mile walk or quick scoot to District Wine, a great last destination forthe evening, given the couch-laden environs that feel like a comfy den. The staff is terrific with suggestions, and there are lots of great small plates including a dandy selection of flatbreads – and be sure to try their famous prosciutto-wrapped dates with goat cheese.
Stop 5 (The Stay): It’s been a long day, with a long day of wine-ing ahead of you. Luckily, you just need to walk across the street to the Broadlind Hotel to recharge. Located in a historic built in 1928, the Broadlind is fully modern, fully cool, inside. And, if you’d like a nightcap – and, admit it, you’d like a nightcap – you just have to go into the building’s basement to The Blind Donkey , a terrific, award-winning whiskey bar, that was featured in “La La Land.”
If you prefer brand hotels to the boutique scene, the Courtyard by Marriott Long Beach
Downtown is just a block away.
Stop 1: Art du Vin is an easy mile and a half rideshare from the Broadlind. A cozy spot that shares a wall with local treasure the Art Theatre, Art du Vin has a lovely outdoor area on Retro Row, giving it a kind of Paris in the 20s vibe, with lots of great conversation. The shop specializes in “low-intervention” wines, vintages created naturally without additives. Give one a try; a lot of people find them distinct and alive with flavor. When done, walk literally five seconds next door to one of Southern California’s great art cinemas which got a complete renovation in 2020.
Stop 2: Less than a block away is the recently opened Oh La Vache - the name roughly translates to Holy Cow – that has all manner of cow, sheep and goat cheese. Once satisfied, rideshare the mile to Broadway to The Wine Crush, a wine shop with fantastic weekend tastings. Its interior is small, but patrons love its relaxing, bougainvillea-laden outdoor patio, which has a serene backyard feel. Equally comforting is the extensive selection and a staff that is knowledgeable without being snobby.
Stop 3: Rideshare over to Alamitos Bay to Marina Wine, located near the water, it’s a great place to take in the sunset, ending our grape-laden journey. With its friendly vibe and cool interior, it has a terrific selection of wine, beer and live music, including open mics. There are even painting classes every now and then. No wonder that it’s known for having a rather loyal, very friendly, customer base. Enjoy it all!
Editor’s note: for more information on things to do in Long Beach, see www.visitlongbeach.com.