Agua Dulce Vineyards Review
Address: 9640 Sierra Hwy. Agua Dulce,California 91390.
Phone Number: 661-268-7402
Tasting Hours: 10:00-5:30
Region: Sierra Pelona Valley, California
Reviewer: Julie Dorris
Review Date: 5/12/2012
Reviewer: Julie Dorris
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 Dulces 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 wouldnt 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 its 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 its 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 Dulces wines are nuanced and obviously handcrafted with care. You wont find any bottles younger than 2008 here. Sangiovese is the star, in my opinion, because this grape benefits from the regions 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 Dulces 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 membersfor picking up wine, of course.