I love Heirloom Roses plant catalogue. And the roses they send out today have a vigor that they lacked just five or six years ago. One might consider their prices dear, but just this year I mentally moved them into the "You get what you pay for" column and ordered several times during sales. Here's a Belle Epoque growing in a pot that arrived just a few weeks ago from them.
Foliage is something we often take for granted with roses; but some roses are beautiful for their foliage, and the flowers are just the icing on the cake. They are a bit obscure today, but Pearl Drift and City of York both have really pretty glossy foliage that looks good with their white flowers. The bright golden flowered South Africa has delightful foliage, too. There are a lot of hybrid tea roses that accent their flowers with deep purplish new foliage. Right now in my garden Brigadoon, Rainbow Sorbet, Peter Frankenfield, Chris Evert, and Gemini all have some.
I try hard to get fragrance in roses, and this has pushed me in the direction of David Austin roses. Graham Thomas is a monster, but trained on a wall or fence can be glorious. Golden Celebration is nice. And for soft, complex colors Jubilee Celbration. Sheila's Perfume is reputed to be highly fragrant. And it's persistent if not vigorous. I had one growing in the shadow of Blush Noisette for a few years. I moved it to where it will get some sunlight and it's doing better. No blooms yet. Penny Lane builds up slowly in the same way and it's highly fragrant. Of course you almost cannot go wrong starting with a Double Delight. It may be a cliche, but for good reason.
I agree that sometimes just diving in is the right thing to do - especially if one can do it with rather modest expectations. My bet is that virtually any hybrid tea rose will grow well in Ventura County. The number of great choices in roses today is mind-boggling - much more so than when I started growing roses in the 1990s.