I jumped in my car early one recent Sunday morning. My destination: Ventura, California, a picturesque tourist town on the California coast, a major destination for city day trippers. But I wasn’t out for a wine-sniffing spin at the region’s many vineyards. No, I was driving an hour and a half from my Los Angeles home to sip something else entirely: beer.
Ventura is the proverbial drinking town with a surfing problem. On the furthest edges of California’s wine country (the territory made famous in movies like Sideways and a thousand PBS travel shows), Ventura and the upcoast town of Santa Barbara make considerable trade from Los Angelenos coming to sample wine on weekends. In downtown Santa Barbara alone, more than 20 wineries offer tasting rooms; the much smaller town of Ventura is home to more than a dozen as well.
My destination was a tour bus was parked outside the Ventura Visitor’s Center—and it was there to hook outsiders not on the region’s famous grapes but on wine’s spunkier, yeastier cousin. More>>