History and Flavor in the Tri-Valley's Livermore Valley Wine Country
Wine tasting in the Livermore Valley wine country is a must-do on many visitors' lists while in the San Francisco area. The laid-back and approachable atmosphere in the East Bay's Tri-Valley region, just 30 miles east of San Francisco, highlights the welcoming, warm, and relaxing experience of local California. With the first grapes planted in the 1840s, the region occupies a prominent position in California wine history.
With more than 55 wineries in close proximity to each other, it's easy to plot out stops and make a day of tasting, enjoying the weather, and seeing beautiful countryside. Here are just five of the many wineries in the Livermore area of the Tri-Valley in Northern California to explore.
Wente is one of the most well-known wineries in the Tri-Valley area and recognized as a premier wine country destination, featuring tasting, dining, concert experiences, championship golf and more. Boasting a variety of fantastic whites and reds, some featured only on-site, Wente offers plenty of room in the tasting area to take in all the different options. Get the story behind Wente and the generations of care put into the business, the oldest family-run winery in the United States. You'll also be drawn to the wide array of gifts, jellies, snacks, and other unique items perfect for taking back home to family and friends. Be sure to check the concert schedule and try your hand at creating your own exceptional bottle of wine at one of their "Blending Sessions". More information: wentevineyards.com
McGrail is an ideal place to spend the afternoon with family, friends, or that special someone. As you walk through the front door, you are greeted by the McGrail Family. Stand at the bar, sit at an available barrel table, or be seated on the side porch with a view of the countryside as you make your way through the tasting menu. Or cozy up on one of the couches with heaters to keep you warm on chilly days. You can also play bocce ball, bring your own snacks, and enjoy a little shopping for unique gifts. McGrail offers Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rose.
If it's cozy, cute, and welcoming that you're after, then Nottingham Cellars may be the perfect stop. This is a true family-owned and operated winery. Jeff and Diane Cranor purchased their first Livermore Valley grapes in 2007 and produced their first vintage the next year, with son Collin Cranor eventually taking over as winemaker. The Nottingham Cellars name was founded in 2009, with the opening of a brand new tasting room on Vasco Road and the Rhone brand, Vasco Urbano Wine Company, launched to the public in 2009. Be sure to check out new releases such as the new vintage of Ralphi's Red, Wolfe of Livermore, and a Cabernet Sauvignon, JHC, named after Jeff Cranor.
Ruby Hill is rich with history, with the first grapes planted in 1895. After name and ownership changes throughout the years, three couples began their partnership with the opening of the tasting room in 2007. What started off as a hobby quickly blossomed into something more. Sharing a hands-on approach and passion for wine, the three families are involved in all aspects of the business, from work on the bottling line to sorting grapes at harvest and working the quarterly wine club release parties. Ruby Hill Winery has quickly become a popular location for visitors to the Livermore Valley. This is a place where you can spend an afternoon tasting and basking in the wonderful California weather on one of the outdoor patios with some snacks from the deli.
Rubino Estates offers an experience where California meets Italy. To tap into your inner Italian, Rubino offers a cool and crisp Trebbiano, a spicy Sangiovese, and an earthy Barbera. With picturesque views of the Livermore Valley and warm hospitality, the tasting room boasts an estate bocce court, an Italian-inspired deli, private tasting areas, and two outdoor picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy your wine. Rubino hosts many special events; check out the calendar while you're there.
For more winery suggestions and trip planning tips, including a downloadable wine map, please visit VisitTriValley.com. Also available are hotel booking tools, and events and activity listings. Note that when you book a hotel through VisitTriValley.com, you can receive free shipping on any wines you order through participating Livermore wineries' Sip and Ship offer.