Livermore Valley, the other wine country, holds more than a few surprises for visitors this fall.
The gorgeous exterior of Wente Vineyards in Livermore
The vineyards, wines and down-to-earth locals of the Livermore Valley wine country will likely steal a visitor’s heart. Many are surprised to learn that there’s another wine country, other than Napa and Sonoma, so close to San Francisco. And they’re even more surprised to discover that it’s one of the oldest wine regions in the state, as well as the most accessible and event-friendly. In fact, this area put California on the world wine map when Livermore Valley’s Cresta Blanca Winery won America’s first international gold medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition. Livermore is home to more than 50 award-winning wineries and 4,000 acres of vineyards, making a weekend jaunt an autumn necessity.
Come for the wine, stay for the golf: Wente Vineyards has its own challenging course.
Wente is a local staple and the longest continuously family-owned and -operated winery in America. The vineyard’s chardonnay is world famous, and more than 80% of all California chardonnay stems from the Wente clone. Make a weekend of it here; the property boasts a wine cave, a restaurant, multiple culinary and wine-tasting experiences, concerts and a slew of incredible wines to try.
Insider tip: Enjoy the cool California breeze: Book a round of golf—Wente has its own course—and indulge in delicious fare at the Grill, which is located at the 18th hole. 5050 Arroyo Road, Livermore, 925.456.2305
The Lineage Collection CEO Steven Kent Mirassou
The family’s seventh generation now helps make wine at The Lineage Collection. Their goal, which many believe has already been achieved, is to make cabernet sauvignon as fine as any in the world. To try these rare, small-lot wines made from the Livermore Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and Napa Valley, simply make an appointment and follow the gravel road. Try wines from the Collection’s four brands: Lineage Wine, The Steven Kent Winery, L’Autre Côte and Mia Nipote Wines. Sit on the patio, head into the cellar or upgrade to the salon for a private tasting.
Insider tip: Try the L’Autre Côte cab franc. Made from a grape Steven Kent Mirassou believes to be the “sexiest, most alluring, most complex in the world.” 5443 Tesla Road, Livermore, 925.243.6445
Rhonda Wood, owner of Wood Family Vineyards
Rhonda Wood, winemaker and leader of the vineyard, brings all the good vibes and award-winning wine to the people with the help of her husband, Michael Wood; her son, Harrison; and the other team members who they consider family. “It’s all good at Wood” is the vineyard’s slogan, where weekenders come as guests and leave feeling like family.
Insider tip: Taste wines during the day and enjoy live music at night. Check the vineyard’s website for an entertainment lineup and for a list of the food trucks that roll through the property each weekend. 2407 Research Drive, Livermore, 925.606.7411
The OG aguachile at Posada
A locals’ favorite, this contemporary Southwest restaurant is a five-minute drive from downtown. Don’t be fooled by the classic taqueria building or shopping-center vibe; this venue has the culinary pedigree. Start with the chicharrónes with cheese dip and hatch chile; from there, standouts include the shrimp and chorizo, and the OG aguachile. If dining for lunch, don’t overlook the over-easy egg ranchero with blackberry mole poblano. 988 Murrieta Blvd., Livermore, 925.606.1004
The steak rolls at Aviation Rooftop Bar & Kitchen
Located directly in the center of the quaint yet modern downtown Livermore, Aviation Rooftop Bar & Kitchen is the perfect place to enjoy the town from above. Menu favorites include appetizers like ceviche and steak rolls, and main-course hits are risotto and the resto’s locally famous New York steak. Take advantage of the outstanding brunch and weekend DJs. 2470 First St., Livermore, 925.292.9915
The Zen-like space features truly unique cuisine and wines from around the world. Start with the crabmeat-stuffed prawns and egg rolls and transition to the Mongolian wagyu beef, sweet-and-sour chicken and chow mein. 39 S. Livermore Ave., Ste. 125, Livermore, 925.449.7000
Photography by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS