Livermore Wine CountrySep 13, 2016 11:30AM ● By Fran Miller
LIVERMORE WINE COUNTRY
A short 30 minute drive leads to a valley of luscious vineyards
By Fran Miller
Though the Napa Valley garners most of the attention from wine enthusiasts, the Livermore Valley is firmly planted in grapevine roots. One of the oldest wine regions in California, the seven cities within the 25-mile-long, 18-mile-wide territory include—Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Sunol, and Livermore—are home to more than 50 wineries.
Pioneering families like the Wentes and the Concannons recognized the area’s winemaking potential in the early 1880s and tapped into the ideal grape growing conditions—rich soil, high altitude, and a daily maritime breeze. Soon others followed, transforming the landscape into a venerable wine producing region. Today, elegant tasting rooms and quality restaurants dot the area, making the Livermore Valley a topnotch winetasting destination.
Wente Vineyards: There is much to love about a winery with five generations of winemakers who have worked to make the wine experience accessible to everyone. Taste upscale California cuisine at The Restaurant at Wente; rock-out to the some of the biggest names in music at summer concerts; or explore the property’s one-acre vegetable garden. Take your wine interest a bit further at one of Wente’s Winemakers Studio Experiences where the finest wines and state-of-the-art tools are at your fingertips. Create your own varietal; learn how to identify aroma; or discover how to pair wine with cheese. 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore, wentevineyards.com.
A recent renovation of this historic winery’s tasting room has cemented its place
as a premier Livermore Valley stop—a casual yet sophisticated place to sip and
dine while gazing at vine-covered hills. Delicious dishes like beef short ribs with
polenta and shrimp and crab rolls are prepared in-house. Named after Joaquin
Murrieta who discovered the landmark estate in the 1880’s, Murrieta’s Well
recently snagged acclaimed vintner Robbie Meyer as their Director of
Winemaking. Meyer focuses on small-lot harvesting and blending––the winery’s
specialty. 3005 Mines Road, Livermore, murrietaswell.com.
Darcie Kent Vineyards:
generation winemaker Darcie Kent established her winery in 1996 in the
tradition of her great, great grandfather who hand painted labels for his own winery
in St. Louis, Missouri. Every bottle of Darcie Kent wine features her original
artwork––beautiful images that capture the spirit of each vineyard. Kent and
winemaker Julian Halasz work in unison to handcraft small-lot, single vineyard
wines from sustainably farmed, family-owned vineyards. Standouts include the 2013 De Mayo Chardonnay and the
2013 Clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon. Pair these vintages with cheese and
charcuterie at one of the winery’s outdoor concerts. On September 24th from
1 – 4pm local band Crawdad Republic celebrates their latest CD release. Grab some
blankets and head out for great music, food truck fare and delicious wines. 7000 Tesla Road, Livermore, darcykentvineyards.com.
Page Mill Winery: Located just beyond downtown Livermore, Page Mill celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Originally founded in the Los Altos Hills, Page Mill relocated to the Livermore Valley in 2004. Here the Stark family, who own the winery, purchased additional acreage and increased production. Today the winery produces 3,000 cases each year from 14 different wines. Current releases are available for tasting and purchasing at the winetasting room. On the third Sunday of every month, bring in an empty bottle and the staff will fill it with their red blend for just $9.99. 1960 S. Livermore Avenue, Livermore, pagemillwinery.com.
Nella Terra Cellars: One of the newest wineries on the scene, Nella Terra is located in Sunol and getting ready for its second estate harvest. Established in 2014 by the Beemiller family, Nella Terra provides a beautiful backdrop for special events on 100-acres of rolling hills and grounds that boast a flagstone patio, great lawn, waterfalls, bocce ball courts and a pond stocked with bass and blue gill. Nella Terra produces sparkling white, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Redded Bliss (red blend), Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Stop by their table at the Livermore Air Show in October for a taste. 5005 Sheridan Road, Sunol, nellaterra.com.
Livermore Wine Trolley: Let the Livermore Wine Trolley take the wheel during a wine tasting adventure. Sign-up for a package tour or explore the region at your leisure with the new ‘Hop-on, Hop-off’ trollies that roll between 25 partner wineries every 25 minutes. Better yet, work with the Wine Trolley experts to chart your own private course. livermoreWineTrolley.com
20th Annual Livermore Airport Open House and Air Show: For the first time, more than 25 Livermore Valley wineries will share their wares while guests enjoy military and classic aircraft and vintage cars. The event includes performances by renowned air show pilots Vicky Benzing Aerosports, Jacquie B Airshows, Dr. D's Old-time Aerobatics and Wild Thing Air Shows. October 1, 10am to 4pm, lvwine.org.
Posada: Fans of this popular contemporary, southwestern fusion restaurant eagerly await its reopening after a renovation hiatus. Owner and Chef Eduardo Posada passionately brings his native New Mexico and Texas flavors to each dish—fresh ceviche, seafood tacos and roasted cauliflower bisque are house favorites. “My food pairs well with many wines found here in the Livermore area,” he says. “It brings to the tri-valley a unique quality of flavor and freshness.” 625 Main Street, Pleasanton, posadarestaurant.com.
Sauced BBQ & Spirits: It feels like a
large block party here—families, couples and friends converge every night of
the week for great food, fun, and a bit of southern charm. Enjoy live music on
Fridays and Saturdays, test your trivia on Tuesdays and play a little Bingo on
Wednesdays. But the real attraction is great barbecue. Owners Barrett Gomes and
Scanlon serve-up some of the best ribs, brisket, chicken, links and pulled pork
you’ll ever taste. (Opening soon in
Walnut Creek) 2300 First Street, Livermore, saucedbbqandspirits.com.
Blue Agave Club: A popular Pleasanton dining spot since 1997, Blue Agave serves upscale Mexican food and knockout margaritas. Located in the thick of the downtown action, Blue Agave’s vibe is festive, fun and family-oriented. Be sure to try the Enchiladas del Mar, one crab and one shrimp enchilada slathered in a creamy seafood sauce. Mole fans will love the Mole Poblano, tender chicken breast smothered in the rich, dark sauce. A frequent winner of many “best” lists, Blue Agave is also known for its huge selection of premium tequilas. Enjoy live music on the patio most nights. 625 Main St., Pleasanton