The Pacific Coast Highway runs along the fabled Malibu coast, past sparkling beaches, seafood restaurants, colorful gift shops, and the tasting room of Rosenthal–The Malibu Estate Wines. At first, this may seem like an unlikely place to find a tasting room, even when visitors learn that they are just six short miles from the winery’s splendid vineyard and magnificent estate. But Rosenthal’s 27-acre vineyard is tucked high in the hills of Malibu, at elevations ranging from 1,400 to 1,800 feet, above the coastal fog. There, ensconced in bowl-shaped Malibu-Newton Canyon, the vines enjoy an ideal terroir for growing world-class Chardonnay and red Bordeaux varieties.
The story of Rosenthal wines dates back more than 20 years to the time when movie, real estate, and hotel entrepreneur George Rosenthal first planted vineyards at his 250-acre estate in Malibu-Newton Canyon. The year 1991 saw his first release, a Cabernet Sauvignon, made by Winemaker Bruno D’Alfonso. Since 1997, Rosenthal–The Malibu Estate wines have been crafted by Winemaker Christian Roguenaut, who has a way of capturing the vineyard’s unique terroir—lending a cleanliness of taste and a fruit-friendliness to the Chardonnay, and taming the intensity of the Cabernet Sauvignon. All the wines are made from estate-grown grapes that are handpicked at harvest. Beyond its distinctive estate offerings, the winery has developed a second label called Surfrider to help support local charities that help to clean and protect the oceans and beaches.
Although not open to the public, the winery estate is available for private tours and parties by appointment or invitation. It has elegant grounds that celebrate the natural beauty of the site, accented by magnificent sculptures and works of art— including two graffitied blocks of the Berlin Wall. Those who have taken private tours or attended occasional events liken the terrain to that of Tuscany or the Mt. Veeder area of Napa.
Rosenthal–The Malibu Estate wines are a tremendous source of pride for George. After his successful business career, he finds joy in each new vintage. “It’s the first thing I put my name on in 44 years of business,” he says.