AWG Correspondent

Julie Dorris

Agua Dulce Vineyards Photos

Agua Dulce Vineyards Review

Regions: Sierra Pelona Valley, California

Reviewed: May 12, 2012 by Julie Dorris
Published: July 30, 2012

When you visit Napa or Sonoma Counties, you can count on tasting some excellent wines. In Los Angeles County you take a greater risk. But Agua Dulce Vineyards is not likely to disappoint, and, in fact, most locals who come here to taste are pleasantly surprised by the quality of wines. Agua Dulce grows its grapes on 90 acres surrounding the winery, in the newly designated Sierra Pelona Valley AVA, known for conditions that produce fantastic Sangiovese and Syrah. All of Agua Dulce’s wines genuinely express the unique flavors created by the soil, climate, and geographic characteristics of this region.

The Place:  A trip to Agua Dulce is a good reason to explore a part of Los Angeles that you probably wouldn’t see otherwise. It is located 45 minutes north of the city, amidst the horse ranches along the scenic Sierra Highway. The property is picturesque, with pastoral grounds that beg to be picnicked upon. It is tempting to wander into the labeled rows of grapes to admire the succulent bunches of your favorite varieties, and it’s endearing that many of the rows are “dedicated” to wine club patrons. There is a delightful little farm with animals roaming around, which is fun for children if you bring them along.

At the heart of the property is the tasting room which is inviting and homey. The décor embraces a mixture of old and new that defines the Los Angeles area, with lofty ceilings, exposed ventilation and mission-style lighting. Inside the tasting room you will also find a gift shop full of wine-related novelties as well as artisan cheeses, spices, and spreads.

The Experience:  I visited on what appeared to be a busy Saturday by the looks of the parking lot. The tasting room, however, was nearly empty as most guests were in the event space. Still, the two servers seemed flustered by having to help more than one group at a time. This was my second visit, and both times I noticed wine club members coming in almost constantly to pick up orders, so I deduce they have quite a following.

The tasting fee is $7 and allows you to taste up to five wines of your choosing, although it’s advisable to let the server recommend favorites. If you plan ahead you can reserve a winery tour, which gives guests a comprehensive overview of the winemaking process followed by wine and cheese pairings and the heavenly SyrahPortand chocolate paring.

The Wines:  Agua Dulce’s wines are nuanced and obviously handcrafted with care. You won’t find any bottles younger than 2008 here. Sangiovese is the star, in my opinion, because this grape benefits from the region’s microclimates, thriving on the seasonal temperature changes. Another memorable favorite is the Syrah Port, and all of their Syrahs indicate that this grape also thrives in Agua Dulce’s fluctuating climate.

The Extras:  Agua Dulce serves a tasty pesto puree along with the palate-cleansing crackers. Though the wines are good, I found myself still thinking about the pesto long after my visit. I hear that the winery throws great “pickup” parties for wine club members—for picking up wine, of course.

Address & Contact Information: 9640 Sierra Hwy. Agua Dulce, California 91390. Telephone: 661-268-7402, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 10:00-5:30.

Overall Rating:  

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