Paso Robles Temecula Having lived in Los Angeles for the past few years and with my academic career at USC coming to an end, I have realized how much I have taken for granted L.A. as the epicenter of the many wines of the world. We can order or hit up any wine bar or store in the city, all while becoming exposed to a global selection of wines. Although nothing can beat the experience of trying out wine in its local setting, it’s a misconception that we need to trek to France or even Napa Valley to taste the best wines. Extraordinary wines await us locally for those who are willing to seek them out. Known for its hot springs, olive oil, almonds and large variety of wineries, Paso Robles is the mecca for wine enthusiasts looking to have a well-rounded weekend getaway. The warm climate year-round is an enjoyable experience for us urbanites looking to be exposed to nature — actual nature, not Runyon Canyon. A winery that I recommend visiting is the Epoch Estate, a modernized winery that stands on historical grounds of the wine business in the region. Tastings are only $20 per person, a relatively affordable experience for the college winery-goer with some wineries, particularly those in Napa Valley, charging about $70 per person. Dogs are allowed in this winery, which is always a major plus for me, despite not owning one. Who wouldn’t want to pet a dog when wine tasting? Heading south of Los Angeles, we arrive at a popular destination for Californian wine lovers — Temecula. Known for the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival in June and other thriving cultural experiences, this region is the best-kept secret of the West Coast wine world. And, dare I say, it’s much better than Napa Valley. (Shhh, please don’t tell my Northern Californian friends — don’t want my citizenship revoked!) Santa Barbara A bit closer to home, Santa Barbara is the perfect location for those who want to take a day trip but not commit to the logistics of overnight excursions. Commonly referred to as the “American Riviera,” the city is known for its Mediterranean climate and casual oceanside lifestyle. The festival is an ideal weekend date for those staying in L.A. this summer. Featuring concerts with jazz and country artists and rainbow-colored hot air balloons, this is an experience that you do not want to miss out on. But you don’t have to wait until summer to explore the richness that is Temecula! Just drive down and start hitting up the wineries that have relatively affordable prices for tastings. I would highly recommend checking out family wineries such as the Thornton Winery and the Doffo Winery. Ted Wint is a senior writing about wine culture for the Daily Trojan. His column, “Let’s Wine Down,” runs every other Tuesday. (Ted Wint | Daily Trojan) Don’t miss out on the hot springs and mud baths that this region is also known for! There’s something for everyone in your friend group to do in Paso Robles. This semester has shown me the limitless possibilities that exist for wine adventures around the Los Angeles region. With a little bit of planning and access to a car — or at least a friend with a car — you can explore the selections that make Southern California a global wine hotspot. But first, a public service announcement: Don’t drink and drive, just don’t! For those hoping to experience all that Santa Barbara has to offer without having to trek to every winery in the vicinity, check out the Santa Barbara Wine Collective, a venue that offers wine tasting and retail sales and carries a wide selection of locally sourced wines. Plus, it’s way cheaper to order by the glass than to invest in a whole wine bottle. Great for friends with different wine taste!