At Malibu Family Wines in the Santa Monica Mountains, It's About Enjoying the Company

Tucked in a more rural section of Mulholland Drive on the northern side of the Santa Monica Mountains is a fairly large property where people gather daily. Whether they're just getting off from a hike or bicycle ride or just wanted to get out of the city without traveling too far, the outdoor Malibu Family Wines tasting room is one relaxing spot, especially in the summer.

This is a communal spot and an opportunity to get outdoors, support a local winery, enjoy each other's company and make new friends. All that is best seen on weekend nights in the summer when hundreds of people gather at the property to be among their friends and family.

It's free to enter, but the deal is you've got to purchase bottles of their locally produced wine (prices start at about $12). For food, some bring their own picnic — there are plenty of tables — and others eat off an exclusive food truck that lives on the property. Live music is provided, which has the inebriated and happy crowd dancing by the end of the night (and on Thursdays, it's movie night). In the back corner, there's an area for horseshoes (or sometimes bocci ball) and behind up a little hill behind the music stage is a quieter and darker spot, where couples are seen kissing on benches as night falls.

Although music only goes from 7 to 9 p.m. on weekend nights, customers seem satisfied. And for those who need a few to sober up, there's time to relax before staff clears the place (and if that's too early to end your night, head down the road to The Old Place for dessert and some more local wine and other drinks -- last call is at 11 p.m.). Wine flights (about $10 and up) can be purchased seven days a week from 11 a.m. to around 6 p.m., when service switches to bottle only on nights when there are events.

Beyond the tasting area, the 1,000-acre Saddlerock Ranch is home to 60,000 vines that grow eight varietals planted, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Malbec and Grenache. The company even has it's own AVA designation -- the Saddle Rock-Malibu AVA -- for the area.

The Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu coast is home to around 40 vineyards.