Written BY MARK GUDGEL | PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIVERMORE VALLEY AVA
Just east of the Bay, bathing in sunlight and often draped in fog, is a valley full of wine grapes juxtaposing the beauty of an agrarian existence starkly within a stone’s throw of the frantic day-to-day bustle of San Francisco. Yet, while so much of the wine industry has experienced the explosive growth that comes with notoriety as the world has come to appreciate the unparalleled quality of Californian wines, the Livermore Valley—one of the oldest winegrowing regions in America—has quietly continued doing what it has always done, producing truly extraordinary wines.
Many know of Livermore Valley and may have tasted wine from some of their more famous and storied producers such as Wente and Concannon, but what few realize is that the lush and sunlit valley is home to forty-four wineries and more than 2,800 acres planted to grapevines—largely Bordeaux varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Francs that have been turning heads in competitions in recent years.
Among those forty-four producers, most would be considered boutique and family-owned. To walk into a tasting room in the picturesque Livermore Valley, one will likely experience a sense of belonging almost immediately. The people behind these wineries are hands-on, often pouring wine for their guests, and are deeply passionate about the Livermore Valley community. However, the quality of their wines only supersedes the friendliness of the vintners. This is what the Livermore Valley Wine Community’s executive director, Brandi Lombardi, is talking about when she refers to the valley’s “approachable luxury.”
“This is your personal invitation to come to the Livermore Valley Wine Community,” said Lombardi. “Seek our hidden gem of a region where you will experience award-winning wines and passionate members of our community that are thrilled to welcome you to their wineries.” With so many of Livermore’s producers being small and family-owned, an experience there will surely be unparalleled.
Whether planning to attend the Taste Our Terroir event around harvest time, tasting amazing wine, or perhaps seeking an approachable place to open a winery business, the Livermore Valley should be at the top of a wine lovers’ list. From San Francisco, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), a ten-minute uber ride will transport visitors to the heart of Livermore Wine Country. By car, the rural haven is just a short drive from Oakland, Sacramento, and other major metropolitan communities in northern California.
Not long ago, California wine country occupied the space of a peaceful, bucolic lifestyle seemingly lost to time. And while some areas have experienced a boom of rapid growth, the Livermore Valley Wine Community remains peacefully rural, balancing its time-honored heritage with an eye toward the future—a future to which all visitors have an open invitation.