It’s been four months since the popular Paso Robles winery, Bianchi opened its “bottle shop” in North Laguna. It was almost an afterthought, really, as the primary reason for the real estate was to situate a southerly home office back in Laguna Beach where family co-owner Beau Bianchi resides. (He graduated from Laguna Beach High School, in fact.)
Tucked in with just a small sign announcing its existence, you might think people would zip right past the place. On the contrary, Bianchi quickly proved a bustling resource to locals and fan visitors alike. The bottle shop proved so popular, in fact, that residing Manager Cristine Martinez one day asked Beau, “What’s a bottle shop without a tasting room?”
Beau and the rest of the ownership agreed with her. An added liquor license eventually allowed for the bountiful harvest of one sleek tasting room. It easily seats 14 to 16 people and is available for private parties for up to 20 people.
Nearly 50 years of wine making
Bubblier than the first taste of sparkling wine she pours, Cristine adds a warm and funny presence in the cool, modern edifice. Most recently hailing from Lido Bottle Works in Newport Beach, Cristine is a fount of information on the three-generation winery that began in 1974.
Bianchi’s Paso Robles vineyards enjoy three distinct areas, each offering up award-winning Cabernets, Zinfandels and Merlot. Over the years, the family with resident Winemaker Todd Weiher, has forged relationships with neighboring vineyards to create signature blends of Chardonnay, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, too.
A taste of all the best
The Laguna Beach Tasting Room offers glasses and bottles of the entire Bianchi collection as well as a lively tasting menu of five select wines. The current tasting menu offers Sparkling, Sauvignon Blanc, Signature Chardonnay, Bianchi’s best-selling Reserve Duality Red Cuvée (75% Zinfandel, 25% Sangiovese), and Reserve The Geste GSM Blend.
The Tasting Room offers full charcuterie and cheese boards from Newport Coast’s Butchery, and neatly pairs three of the tasting menu’s wines with cheeses, too. A fourth wine, the Bianchi Signature Selection Chardonnay, is paired with a most enjoyable Laguna Beach Gourmet Popcorn, which hails from its “headquarters” just a couple miles south in the Village Gallery next to GG’s Bistro.
“This is just a great place to drop in for a glass of wine, even if you’re not interested in doing a full tasting,” says Cristine.
“Yes, we see plenty of visitors to Laguna Beach during the day, but we’re meeting a lot of nearby neighbors in late afternoons and evenings who just stroll down the hill, and we like being that kind of mellow hang out,” she said.
Beyond the Tasting Room, the Bianchi headquarters space houses several offices and a residential area that could eventually host larger parties and outdoor tastings. Although that result may be several months off, it’s refreshing to hear the Bianchi family planning in this direction, with vineyards in Paso Robles and roots here in Laguna Beach.
Where to find Bianchi
Bianchi is located in North Laguna at 496 N. Coast Highway at the corner of Coast Highway and Myrtle, across from Laguna Nursery. The Tasting Room is open every day of the week except Tuesday. Hours are 4 pm to 8 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays from 4 pm to 9 pm Saturdays from 1 pm to 9 pm and Sundays from 1 pm to 7 pm.