AWG Correspondent

Julie Dorris

Malibu Family Wines Photos

Malibu Family Wines Review

Region: California

Reviewed: May 10, 2012 by Julie Dorris
Published: May 19, 2012

There’s nothing more freeing than heading up Highway 101 to escape the intensity of Los Angeles. As soon as I exited at Kanan Road, leaving the traffic in my dust, I opened my windows to breathe in the sage- and sea-scented air and enjoyed the bucolic setting. After a few miles, I approached Malibu Family Winery, complete with valet parking and a crowd of urbanites spread upon the lawn picnicking with shiny new bottles of wine. This definitely wasn’t the hidden gem I had imagined it to be, but nonetheless it looked like a good time.

The Place:  Malibu Family Wines is located about 25 miles north of Santa Monica, CA in a remote setting off of Mulholland Highway in Malibu. The entire tasting experience takes places outdoors at two bars, one of which is for wine club members only. There is a large grassy area where you can spread out a blanket and picnic with your favorite bottle of wine while listening to live music. The setting is rustic and artsy, a perfect expression of Malibu style.

The Experience:  On warm, sunny weekend days, it may appear that the winery is hosting a festival, but this is a typical tasting crowd. I visited on Saturday, and guests seemed more into drinking and soaking up the gorgeous natural surroundings than tasting and learning about wine. I was told that weekdays are considerably quieter, so much so that they only open one of the tasting bars. Though it was busy, it was possible to find a comfortable place at the bar to enjoy a flight. There were no chairs and many guests seemed to float between the lawn and the bar while tasting. The server pouring my flight was attentive and knowledgeable, and seemed to take pride in working with this winemaking family.

The Wines:  You can choose from two flights: The Semlar, $14, includes wines (all cabs on the day I was there) made from local grapes grown literally across the street; or the Saddlerock, $12, an assortment of varietals made from grapes sourced from other vineyards. There are only four wines on each flight.

Sine I had a tasting partner with me, we were able to try both flights and agreed that the Semler flight was superior. As the server noted, the wines on the Saddlerock menu are more commercial. I was so impressed with the Semler Cabernet Sauvignons that I wanted to taste some of their other wines listed on a chalkboard behind the bar. However, these are only offered by the bottle, not the glass. Bottles range from about $20 to $55, and the atmosphere lends itself to leisurely enjoying a bottle on the lawn.

The Extras:  Malibu Family Winery offers valet parking for a fee or a free shuttle from a parking lot close by. The surrounding grounds and vistas provide fantastic views of the Malibu hills.

Address & Contact Information: 31740 Mulholland Hwy Malibu, California 90265. Telephone: 818-889-0120, email:, website: Tasting Hours: See website for wine tasting details..

Overall Rating:  

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