The Malibu Estate, the country home of George Rosenthal, produces Los Angeles County's finest wine. In the 19th century, Los Angeles County was reputed to have been the leading producer of premium wine in California; but, with the advent of phylloxera and Pierce's Disease, followed by urban sprawl (the county's most fatal malady), wine production had nearly ceased in Los Angeles County as early as the 1950's. Such was the unhappy state of wine affairs in and around Los Angeles until 1987, when George Rosenthal planted a prime portion of his Malibu ranch to European varietals and put Malibu and Los Angeles County back on California's viticultural map. Others have followed suit in an attempt to emulate The Malibu Estate's success, but none has fashioned wines as compelling as Rosenthal's The Malibu Estate.
Critics have commented that The Malibu Estate has two distinct levels of wine: great and greater, and it would be hard to argue against that summation. The estate's low yields and small production make it difficult to turn out anything but the best. Nearly every vintage this winery manages to fashion a delicious, ripe, succulent Merlot and an exceptional estate Cabernet Sauvignon that has become the winery's claim to fame. Previously, a couple of hundred cases of Founder's Reserve, a splendid meritage or Bordeaux blend from the estate's Las Piedros vineyard, was produced in exceptional vintages and served as the winery's reserve offering. However, Founder's Reserve is no longer being made; its contents now find their way into the estate Cabernet Sauvignon and a new luxury red that is bottled simply as Rosenthal The Malibu Estate Meritage. However, with all this talk of red wine, it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that The Malibu Estate also produces southern California's most compelling Chardonnay, albeit in miniscule quantities. In fact, the estate's Chardonnay may be California's best-kept secret. In any given vintage, The Malibu Estate will fashion up to several hundred cases of outstanding, age-worthy Chardonnay. All of Rosenthal's estate bottled wines are made using sustainable methods of agriculture and now bear the distinct Malibu Newton Canyon appellation.
In addition to crafting superb wines under The Malibu Estate banner, Rosenthal is responsible for Surfrider, a special meritage bottling from the estate's Malibu vineyards, and a soon-to-be-released Pinot Gris that will bear a Santa Barbara appellation. Rosenthal Estate Wines donates a percentage of the profits from Surfrider to the Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots, non-profit, environmental organization that is dedicated to protecting the oceans, waves, and beaches along the California coast.
The force and vision behind Rosenthal Estate Wines is, of course, George Rosenthal. George has been a real estate developer, restaurant/hotel owner, movie mogul, and breeder of fine Andalusian horses. However, today, his primary passion is fashioning Rosenthal The Malibu Estate into a living, sustainable work of art. The artist in residence is French winemaker Christian Rougenet, who spares no expense in the pursuit of full-throttle, highly extracted wines of distinction. For Rosenthal Estate Wines The Malibu Estate, the grapes are entirely handpicked from low-yield vines, and the resulting hand crafted wines are all aged in the finest French oak barrels. The estate's red wines are bottled un-fined and un-filtered. Moreover, no wine is released until it is ready to drink, a practice that defies contemporary economic exigencies but aptly defines this estate's commitment to quality.