Newport Beach Vineyard joins with OC Wine School to offer Wine Education

Elegant but relaxed setting
Elegant but relaxed setting

OC Wine School, run by veteran wine adventurers Peter and Holly Smith, has teamed up with one of Southern California’s smallest and most exclusive wineries to offer classes at this secluded venue on Newport’s Back Bay. Normally open only for private and charity events, Newport Beach Vineyards manager Justin Myers jumped at this chance to open the cellar doors. “We love to welcome people to the vineyard, but being so small it’s just not practical to be open on a regular basis, so this is a great opportunity for us to bring people in without them having to host an event here themselves.”


The intimate setting of the cave at Newport Beach Vineyard, excavated beneath the vines and landscaped gardens of owner Richard Moriarty’s home, is an ideal setting for learning about wine. The massive oak doors open onto stacked barrels of wine that enjoy a perfect environment for their slow maturation, with an atmosphere that puts visitors in the mood to concentrate on the subtleties of the fruit of the vine under the Smiths’ expert guidance. Classes are also held at Giracci Vineyard, another idyllic spot in Silverado, but the new venue will be more convenient for residents of the Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine communities.


The Smiths have been running custom wine tours for over 20 years, mostly in Europe and South America, through their Newport Beach-based Avalon Wine Tours agency. They launched the wine school on the suggestion of tour guests who thought they should share their experience with a wider audience. “Not everyone is in a position to travel to the wine country to experience it first-hand,” says Peter Smith, who emphasizes that they cater to all levels of wine experience. “We definitely don’t belong to the wine snob community,” he says, even though he knows many of the world’s top winemakers as personal friends. “Winemakers love to talk to people who are passionate about what they create, and we share that enthusiasm and try to help others enjoy it as much as we do, without feeling intimidated or awkward”.


Themes for classes range from beginner to expert, each focused on a particular region, style of wine, or cuisine – the food and wine pairing classes are some of the most popular, says Holly Smith, who is in charge of creating the matches that help show off the nuances of each wine. “It’s always a thrill to see how people get excited when they discover how food and wine complement each other,” she says, “and we get as much fun out of it as they do, since every wine has its own character which we have to match with the perfect flavors”.


Upcoming Classes at Newport Beach Vineyards, 2128 Mesa Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660:

February 23, 3-4:30 PM: Introduction to Wine Tasting

March 8, 3-4:30 PM: Bordeaux vs. California Meritage Tasting

April 13, 3-4:30 PM: Wines of Chile & Argentina-New World Stars


February 23, 3-4:30 PM: Introduction to Wine Tasting

Designed to be useful to people with a wide range of wine experience, covering topics such as:

Wine selection and handling basics

Tasting technique

Introduction to popular red and white varietals

Labels and how to read them

Learning to listen to your senses and trust yourself


March 8, 3-4:30 PM: Bordeaux vs. California Meritage Tasting

Bordeaux vs Meritage – not just a copycat style.

We will look at the history of these two regional wines; one that goes back centuries, and the other that celebrated its first quarter-century last year. Though both are blends of grapes (both red and white) that are traditional in the Bordeaux region, the character of each is truly based on its own region, and the end result can cover a wide range of styles. As is often the case with wine, these things can get frustratingly complicated, but in this class you’ll learn what’s important to know, and what you can happily ignore as hype! We examine the motivation behind the Meritage Association and how it and others around the world managed to escape the constraints of established rules, and how this has enriched the enjoyment of every wine lover.


April 13, 3-4:30 PM: Wines of Chile & Argentina-New World Stars

South America, land of adventure, romance and excitement! Chile and Argentina lead the “New World” in innovation, and every year each country pushes a little further into the hallowed realms of the established wine world. European vintners have been investing here for decades, and not just to make cheap wine for the masses. The towering Andes mountain range that separates these regions creates uniquely different climates, and the topography sets them apart even more. Add the cultural and historic elements of each country and “South America” is no longer a generic term you’ll accept in your wine vocabulary!


ABOUT Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery

This boutique estate has been producing award winning wines since 2001 from grapes that are grown, harvested and matured on the property’s two acres of vineyards. It is not open to the public on a regular basis, but is available for special events for groups of all types, with the exception of wedding ceremonies.


ABOUT OC Wine School

Owned and operated by Peter and Holly Smith, who have been conducting luxury custom tours to the world’s top wineries since 1993. Based in Newport Beach, the school offers public classes at various venues around Orange County, and caters to private and corporate clients for customized wine-themed events that can be educational or casual entertainment. Consultation is also available for all aspects of stocking, maintaining and serving personal or commercial wine collections.


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