The hot, dry Palm Springs area, situated near the southeastern corner of California is renowned for superb golfing, Palm trees, swimming pools, celebrities, and retirement in semi-seclusion. Wine, however has not been among its attributes. But that is slowly changing as a younger, more demanding clientele is beginning to discover the joy of fine wine in the desert. Put on your shades, take a short drive and prepare to be surprised.
The newest wine spot is Vino 100, located in Cathedral City. This swanky little shop, complete with granite tasting bar, always has something open to try. Their free Saturday tastings include a “Mystery Label,” where visitors try to guess what’s in the bottle. “This is not your father’s wine shop,” proudly states owner, Brian Estenson. Wine education classes are available. This is perhaps the best and most fun new wine shop in the area.
Tuscany, tucked away in Palm Desert’s sprawling Desert Springs J. W. Marriot Resort, is an outstanding restaurant. The huge wine list features an impressive array of Italian Barolos and Brunellos, plus a French and American selection. The cuisine at Tuscany is an absolute winner, (try the Lobster Ravioli!) all created by young Chef Gregory Wiener. Next door, Sea Grille has a “30 wines under $30” program that’s worth checking out.
Two places in La Quinta will make wine lovers happy. Azur, under new management at the La Quinta Resort and Spa, presents notable wine selections that complement the superb uber-LA dishes. The “Modern Mission” look is real too, since it’s located within the Resort’s original 1926 dining hall. You can’t go wrong with this authentic fine-dining choice. Down the street, the relatively new, yet retro looking Omri & Boni has become an “in spot,” frequented by locals. The lively restaurant features a smart list, great cocktails, and moderate prices.
Serious chow and a well thought out list can be found at The Chop House (2 locations). This masculine clubby steak house will satisfy diners with big bone-in steaks, (all hand-chopped, in-house) like the delicious Cowboy Ribeye. Their wines cover the world but specialize in hearty Californians.
Things have changed. The Palm Springs area’s wine scene has expanded dramatically in the last few years, and is today presenting a number of glass raising options.