Never Leave LA

Sonoma Wine Garden: Wine Country on a Roof

If there’s something better than drinking wine on a rooftop garden overlooking the ocean as a cool salt breeze cavorts with a warm spring evening, it is probably illegal or at the very least, fattening. If you don’t enjoy good wine in a lush patio environment, not only is this article not for you, but really ask yourself whether Southern California is. Or life itself, for that matter.

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Roasted Beet Salad is one of the best things you can do for your taste buds. (Courtesy photo)

For those of us who understand why life is worth all the living that it seems to require, there is Sonoma Wine Garden. Located above Santa Monica’s reimagined Third Street Promenade, the wine bar/restaurant is a weekend getaway in wine country distilled into a single meal, and minus the long-ass drive/short-ass flight.

In that way, it’s sort of the best of both worlds, like a “Sonomonica,” if you will. (Please don’t start using that, and if you must, please don’t provide attribution — a portmanteau loses its freshness the instant after it’s made. Just looking at it again now makes my skin crawl but the backspace key is an enema to me… I meant “anathema,” but what did I just finish saying?)

Awkward segue.

The menu pairs the bold flavors of the Mediterranean with the abundance of local, organic produce to create the light, modern cuisine we’ve come to call our own. The experience is curated by Executive Chef Patrick Florendo, who puts his signature on the lobster pasta and the caramelized Brussels sprouts, among other dishes.

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Cheese and charcuterie… because ours is a civilized society. (Photo by Scott Bridges)

Of course, what would a wine-centric joint be without exceptional charcuterie and cheese offerings. True to form, SWG’s selections do not disappoint. The artisanal and house-made items are as enticing at the California-sourced, sustainable ingredients. And the wines, it should go without saying, are an homage to the greatest vineyards west of Bordeaux, with labels you know and love, and a few that you probably have yet to fall in love with.

There’s a full bar, as well, and cocktails that feature wine as the showcase component. So even if you just come for Happy Hour or brunch, you have considerable options from which to choose.

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Not your mother’s Brussels sprouts (or you’d still live at home). (Photo by Scott Bridges)

And another thing about wine bars — they attract an attractive group of people, don’t they? This is a good-looking patio on a couple of levels. But if you’d rather hang out with some Dockers-wearing rummies at a $6-well-drinks bar lit by a TV, there’s a Cheesesteak Factory next door, where the Richard Sandoval restaurants used to be.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: There is no such thing as a “Cheesesteak Factory,” as Mr. Bridges well knows. It is a Cheesecake Factory, and their cheesecakes are really quite delicious.)

Sonoma Wine Garden

395 Santa Monica Pier #300,

Santa Monica, CA 90401

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