Livermore Valley Is Wine’s New Hot Spot
Move over, Napa and Sonoma
Here’s a little trivia for you: Livermore Valley, about an hour east of San Francisco, is one of the oldest wine regions in California. In fact, it’s the birthplace of California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, even though Napa and Sonoma get all the credit.
The region is producing some stellar wines and isn’t overrun by tourists. We trekked across the valley and mapped out the top five wineries so you can make the most of your trip to the area.
At 132 years old, Concannon Vineyard is the country’s oldest standing winery and is responsible for placing California Cabernet on the world wine map. Read about the Irish family’s winemaking past and then post up somewhere on the expansive grounds with a glass of Cabernet or Petite Sirah.
Concannon Vineyard, 4590 Tesla Rd., Livermore; 925-456-2505 or concannonvineyard.com
Book a class at the experimental Winemakers Studio at Wente Vineyards, where you’ll be schooled in the arts of aroma, blending and food pairing. And stop at the tasting bar for small-batch wines on tap. You can even take home a refillable growler of unique white and red varietals.
Wente Vineyards, 5565 Tesla Rd., Livermore; 925-456-2305 or wentevineyards.com
Helmed by Collin Cranor, one of the youngest winemakers in the business, Vasco Urbano is the hip new kid on the block. The cool thing here is the bottle labeling, which features portraits of historic Livermore characters by caricature artist Vasco Urbano Loureiro. The Grenache rosé is a fruity, juicy summer sipper.
Vasco Urbano Wine Company at Nottingham Cellars, 2245 S. Vasco Rd., Livermore; 925-294-8647 or nottinghamcellars.com/vu
McGrail Vineyards and Winery
The outdoor patio is the place to be at McGrail Vineyards and Winery, which is perched on a hilltop overlooking the valley. Grab one of the boutique family-owned winery’s award-winning Cabs and then engage in some friendly competition on the property’s two bocce courts, cleverly named Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bonus: Tapas, tastings and tunes events every other Friday night.
McGrail Vineyards and Winery, 5600 Greenville Rd., Livermore; 925-215-0717 or mcgrailvineyards.com
Steven Kent Winery
Sixth-generation winemaker Steven Kent Mirassou is known for making small lots of world-class Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals. Head to the tasting room this weekend to get your hands on the just-released Home Ranch Cabernet (think rich black cherry and barrel spice with a long, smooth finish) before it sells out.
Steven Kent Winery, 5443 Tesla Rd., Livermore; 925-243-6442 or stevenkent.com