SEATTLE, April 6, 2018 — Livermore Valley, only 25 minutes from the Oakland airport yet it may as well be hundreds of miles away from anywhere – at least in the mindset of most wine lovers. Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles grab most of the mind share when it comes to many wine lovers. However, so few seem to have heard of Livermore Valley. The rest of the California wine industry owes a bit of respect to this region. Nearly 80 percent of California’s Chardonnay vines trace their genetic DNA to a Livermore Valley clone. Additionally, 80 percent of the 80,000 acres of Cabernet in California can be traced to a Concannon clone.
The city of Livermore is the the heart of this beautiful valley
The naturally cool air helps drop the valley’s temperature at certain intervals throughout the day. This allows for more even ripening as the grapes get a chance to “rest.” Grapes from cooler climates typically show a bit lower alcohol and more acidity that complements food and ages well.
Wineries to check out:
Steven Kent Winery: Owner Steven Kent Mirassou opted out of using his last name in the brand named after him and produces some of the best wines you’ll taste in the valley. His focus on producing world-class wines that are balanced and food friendly shows in every sip. While his Cabernet Sauvignon has garnered a lot of praise, his white Bordeaux, Lola, is also worth checking into.
Murrieta’s Well: One of the oldest wineries in America, Murrieta’s Well has been growing grapes since the 1800s and was often a resting stop for cowboys to water their horses. The original well is still active and a focal point on the property. Make sure to sample their Rose, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.
Darcie Kent Vineyards: Named after its founder, this winery serves up hospitality in spades and offers some tasty vino as well! Not only that but you’ll also see Darcie’s artwork on display all over the tasting room. One fun fact is that their Chardonnay poured at an event attended by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The valley’s naturally cool air at certain intervals throughout the day allows the grapes to rest
Cuda Ridge: Named after the Dodge muscle car of the 60s, Cuda Ridge serves up some incredible Cabernet Franc. The diversity of Cuda Ridge Cab Franc has that great Loire Valley-like veggie action which is indicative to this parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Retzlaff Estate Vineyards: Retzlaff not only has organic-certified vineyards, it’s also home to some of the tastiest Cabernet Sauvignon in the valley. Additionally, their cab-based Rose is also noteworthy and should be sought out to taste while you’re there.
Wente: This winery was the first winery in America to bring over an original Chardonnay clone from France, over 100 years ago. Now often referred to as the “Wente Clone” – the wine made from these grapes are some of the most expressive Chardonnay’s you’ll find being produced in California. Additionally, it has a full-service restaurant and is close to a world-class golf-course as well.
If you’re looking to be able to walk from winery to winery make sure to check out The Block. This is a row of wineries and tasting rooms all within walking distance of each other, sharing the same block. Here you can sip on tasty selections from Wood Family Vineyards, Nottingham Cellars, and McKahn Family Cellars. McKahn also pulls fruit from other wine regions, such as the Napa Valley and makes some very well-balanced wine.
If you’re looking to be able to walk from winery to winery make sure to check out “The Block”
Where to eat:
Uncle Yu’s at The Vineyard: Despite its name, this restaurant is not at any vineyard but does feature an exhaustive wine menu, along with stellar Asian-fusion food. A couple of highlights are the amazing Lobster and the Asian Salmon Pizzetta.
Garre Cafe: Onsite at the Garre Winery is this wonderful cafe that has some of the best food you’ll find while in the vineyard area. Garre realized that there weren’t many dining options in the valley so they established an eatery that serves quality food. We enjoyed their Filet Mignon, smoked salmon with capers, and assortment of omelette options available during brunch.
Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen: Positioned on the Livermore Beer Trail, this place serves up bar food the right way. It’s upscale interpretations of classic comfort food. “Must try” items include: deep-fried pulled pork nuggets, homemade Cajun Mac and Cheese, and deliciously original chicken and waffles. Top that off with a massive beer list of mostly California-made beer and you’ll be in bar-food nirvana.
Off the beaten path:
Blackhawk Museum: If you’re looking to explore, nearby Dublin offers the amazing Blackhawk Museum that has a vintage auto collection along with history of the surrounding region. Its car collection features over 50 vehicles which are donated for display by collectors in the area. This means, that the selection to look at rotates throughout the year.
Danville Harvest: After you’ve worked up an appetite at the museum, proceed to a delicious farm-to-table experience at Harvest Harvest restaurant. Here you’ll find some of the freshest foods in the Tri-Valley area, prepared with excellence, based on a seasonal menu.