Traditional wine country might be several hundred miles away from Southern California, but you wouldn’t know that from the amount of visitors flocking to wineries in Malibu. Usually known for surf competitions, celebrity mansions and beautiful sandy beaches, Malibu’s wineries offer a relaxed yet sophisticated wine tasting experience in one of the world’s most beautiful locations.

Only 40 miles from central Los Angeles, Malibu’s wineries are speckled throughout the Santa Monica Mountains, from the shore to the peaks. The soil have is rich, ideal for planting grapes, and the consistent temperatures offer predictable harvests for the wine makers that call this place home.

There are a number of wine tasting rooms tucked away in the landscape, and each one offers a unique and varied experience. While it would be just as simple to have a tasting room situated closer to the tourist friendly areas of LA, separating from the over-traveled path gives travelers a richer experience and is a great way to feel the true essence of the culture beneath Tinsel Town.

To get the most enjoyment out of your trip, choose just one winery per afternoon, rather than trying to visit all of them in the same day. Here are some notes on a few of the wineries to help you have your best experience.

Glass of Wine with an Ocean View: Rosenthal Estate Winery has an intimate tasting room along the Pacific Coast Highway, the only winery in Malibu with views of the beach and ocean. The location plays up the SoCal stereotype with the name of one of its wines, the Surfrider Chardonnay, and the taste is just as light as the offshore breeze.

Drink Local Wine: At Cornell Winery they believe in drinking and savoring wines from the area you are in, appreciating the grapes and flavors that are from your own community. This tasting room offers wine from over 20 wineries between Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains. If you really want a thorough taste test without driving all over the city, just make one stop at Cornell’s.

Best Ambience: For my money, Malibu Wines has the best outdoor tasting room and there is live music every weekend. The ambience here feels more like a big family gathering, with dozens of tables, chairs and umbrellas decorating the lawn. The best way to spend a sunny afternoon is by bringing a big blanket and a picnic to accompany your wine. Make sure to taste their Semler Cabernet Sauvignon blends, as these are the grapes that are grown in the hills right below the winery.

Rustic scenery with food: For anyone that has visited Malibu Wines and wished they had food, you’re now in luck. Their sister restaurant Malibu and Vine recently opened, pouring the same delicious wine and now offering a small tasting menu, lunch and full dinner menus featuring crab cakes inspired by Julia Child, duck confit tacos and buffalo burgers.

Not your father’s wine tasting: SIP Malibu Wine Bar is a true wine and beer bar with a fun atmosphere nestled in the hills. The unique blend of hard to find bottled beers and 15 solid wines makes this a great place to frequent before heading to dinner somewhere up the road. And at only $10 dollars for a 4-glass flight, why not stop here often?

Wine and Pizza: Kristy’s Wood Oven and Wine Bar– Overlooking Zuma Beach, this gourmet pizza restaurant features many local Malibu wines. It’s not a tasting room per se, but can give you that Pacific Ocean sunset photo that all your friends will be jealous of and offers some delicious food, too.