But the prominence of wine tasting in Livermore has changed over the past 15 years. There are more than 60 wineries and about 96,000 acres of wine grapes in the Livermore Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA).
Nearly a century before Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars of Napa triumphed at the famed Judgment of Paris in 1976, Livermore’s Cresta Blanca Winery was crowned the Grand Prix winner at the 1889 Paris Exposition. This honor marked the first time a California wine beat the competition in France.
Of course, in Livermore, Wente has the name, and a pretty nice golf course, summer music venue and restaurant.
SF Gate: Wente Vineyards has produced wine in the Livermore Valley since the late 1800s. There are two tasting rooms on this property. Sample current releases such as fizzy Small Lot Brut and estate-grown Chardonnay at the Estate Tasting Room. Or, head to the Winemakers Studio for flights that focus on reserve wines and special blends such as the aromatic Artisan White. Fuel up on roasted prawns or an Indian spin on fried chicken at the Wood Fire Kitchen, a food truck on Wente’s patio.
One of my “secret” favorites from the 70s was Concannon. SF Gate says: The sprawling Concannon Vineyard estate is likely to be packed on the weekends, but wine history buffs who don’t mind the occasional party bus will definitely want to see the mini-museum to the side of the tasting room. Concannon, after all, is credited as the first U.S. winery to bottle a varietal Petite Sirah. There, display cases trace the winery’s history to the late 1800s with bottles, awards and other artifacts.
Some of the others, you might visit are: Bent Creek, McGrail, Boa Ventura, and Murrieta’s Wall. Another fun option is the cycle to several on the Livermore wineries, using the Livermore wine and bike trail. Just be careful if you drink and ride.
Just remember the summers in Livermore can get quite hot. But you can combine some tasting, with a concert at Wente Vineyards, making a perfect summer evening. We have done this numerous times, and seen great performers, like Boz Scaggs, the Beach Boys, Michael McDonald, and Journey with local boy, Steve Perry.
So, you do not need to drive up to Napa or Sonoma, or traverse inland to Lodi or Amador. Stay and play in Livermore!