Located right in San Francisco’s backyard (40 miles southeast of the city), Livermore Valley is a convenient weekend trip for city wine lovers, as well as being one of the most historically important wine regions in the United States. Several of Livermore’s first wineries, including Wente and Concannon, set the standard for quality California wines in the 1800s (yes, more than a century ago!), and continue to make delicious wines today. They were also pioneers in viticulture: Wente developed the chardonnay clone that is used for most California chardonnay today, and most of California’s sauvignon blanc vines are descendents of cuttings from Chateau d’Yquem, brought to Livermore Valley in the late 1880s.
This small valley is hot and sunny during the day, but strong winds from the Pacific Ocean in the afternoon bring the nighttime temperature down by as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature shift allows the grapes to develop concentrated flavors, and coupled with the gravelly, free-draining soils, creates an ideal climate for growing wine grapes. Many types of grapes are grown here, from cabernet sauvignon and merlot to pinot noir and viognier. Petit sirah does very well here, and has something of a cult following.
Visiting Livermore wineries couldn’t be easier. Over 40 wineries are centered around the town of Livermore, and most are open to visitors daily. Pack a picnic lunch and get out of the city for a day, while avoiding traffic and crowds. We love the wines and tasting experiences at Wente, Concannon, McGrail, Fenestra, Page Mill and Darcie Kent.
Have you explored Livermore Valley? Tell us about it below.