Wine Tastings Under the Stars


Two local vineyards showcased their best offerings at a tony outdoor wine tasting hosted by LearnAboutWine at the Crescent Hotel Friday night, July 16, part of summer-long series of such events. With L.A.'s go, go, go reputation and constant barrage of distractions, a quiet, elegant mingling with other not-so-go, go, goers over a dozen glasses of wine sure felt good. That's not to say that attendees weren't on-the-go types, but rather, for this event, all pretense of hurriedness was far behind.

Ian Blackburn founded the organization LearnAboutWine in 1995 for the purpose of providing "unique, fun and enjoyable ways to educate people about wine." They do this through a series of tastings, events, tours and classes. LearnAboutWine can also design special events at your place of business or social settings. Just contact them and they'd be happy to oblige.

Their series of Friday night "wine tastings under the stars" provides the perfect setting for wine lovers and wine novices alike to rub elbows with each other while enjoying cheese, crackers, and eggplant-and-soy-on-a-toothpick appetizers. And in case, like me, you're not completely versed in wine-tasting ways, this is not a taste-and-spit affair. No, this is designed as a sip and savor evening. Keep it in your mouth, which means, choose carefully, because you can't have it all if you want to make it home in one piece.

The gang from LearnAboutWine

Of course, you don't have to go home. The Crescent hotel is more than willing to accommodate. Wedged into the heart of Beverly Hills, The Crescent invites patrons to "come play, come eat, come lounge." With that in mind, if playing and lounging on Friday nights sounds like your thing, call ahead and make reservations. Even the most design-illiterate will be impressed with the white-on-white minimalist lines and stylings of this boutique hotel and its ultra-chic lounge, which includes the outdoor patio area where the wine tastings occur.

Each Friday night is devoted to different regions, this particular night spotlighting the wines of Malibu. Semler Malibu Estate Wine & Saddlerock Vineyards shared the patio with Rosenthal, The Malibu Estate. Guests could either taste their wine of choice, or, as I chose, sample each and every bottle, with an educational accompaniment provided by the representatives from each vineyard.

In case you're not aware, Saddlerock Vineyards in the Santa Monica Mountains consist of approximately 58,000 vines. Planted as early as 1997, the first crush was in 2000, with plans to expand to 100,000 vines. Three generations of the Semler family now work to produce these wines. Check them out at

George Rosenthal, owner of movie studios and hotels, first planted vineyards at his 250 acre estate in 1987. Now, 25 acres of hillside vines allows for individual lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc to be vinified and barrel-aged before blending. You can find out more at

Friday night wine tastings are $30. The first two events have averaged around 100 to 125 attendees, coming and going between 6pm - 8:30pm. The rest of the summer schedule is as follows: July 23, California Rhones; July 30, Sonoma; August 6, Bubbles; August 13, Pinot Noir; August 20, California Stars; August 27, Australia.

For more information: 310-451-7600. Also, to learn more about the Crescent Hotel, check out


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