Indulge Your Senses In One of California’s Oldest Wine Regions
Welcome to the Tri-Valley Wine Country, one of California’s oldest wine regions! Spend a day, a weekend, or even a week, discovering why the Livermore Valley is one of the finest wine regions in the world. It’s a place where all your senses will be indulged with the tastes of great award-winning wines, the sights of breathtaking valley views, the scents of wine aging in oak barrels, the feel of warm sunshine, and the quiet sounds of breezes through more than 5,000 acres of rolling vineyards.
Stepping into the Tri-Valley Wine Country brings you to many places all at once: into the “homes” of small, family-owned boutique wineries; back into the region’s rich history, and; to a land reminiscent of the south of France and other European locales. All only 45 minutes away from San Francisco!
Be One of the Family in Tri-Valley Valley Wine Country
Most of the more than 45 wineries in Tri-Valley Wine Country are family owned and operated, which means a visit to these wineries will be friendly and relaxed, where you can expect to interact with the winemakers and family members themselves. On most weekends, the tasting rooms of the Tri-Valley’s wineries are filled with knowledgeable staff and volunteers, passionate about sharing what they know about their wines and the region with guests.
Nearly every winery in the Tri-Valley has a wine club available. Wine club members enjoy free wine tasting, discounts on purchases, invitations to special tasting events, the ability to buy wines not available to the general public, and other privileges. Some wine club members are such big fans of their preferred wineries, they serve as enthusiastic ambassadors to tasting room guests.
Step Into the History of the Tri-Valley Wine Country
You’ll get a taste of history when you visit Livermore Valley’s wineries. The valley’s first grape vines were planted by the Spanish Padres in the 1760s. In 1846, Robert Livermore established the first commercial vineyards. And a little over three decades later, in the 1880s, the first wineries were launched by the Wente, Concannon, and Wetmore families. It was a Livermore Valley wine that won America’s first Gold Medal for Wine at the 1889 Paris Exposition.
A handful of historic wineries operated in the Livermore Valley for much of the 20th Century, up until about 30 years ago, when a growth spurt started. Soon after the valley was declared an official American Viticultural Area (AVA; also referred to as an “appellation”) in 1982, wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts who dreamed of one day making their own wines began migrating to the area to purchase land and plant vineyards.
Since then the number of wineries has grown almost ten fold over the years, and the area continues to attract new vintners to this day. Many of the area’s wineries are owned by people who started out life as scientists, teachers, business managers, or salespeople—all bound together by a passion for wine and the Livermore Valley.
Taste the Tri-Valley’s “Terrior” for an Experience of the Old World
When you come to theTri-Valley Wine Country, you’ll hear vintners talk a lot about the region’s “terrior” (pronounced “tair-WAHR”). It’s a French world for “soil”, from the phrase, “gout de terroir”, or “taste of the soil”. Valley vineyard owners and winemakers pride themselves on producing grapes and wines that capture that “taste” of the valley’s fine soils that are reminiscent of the famous winegrowing regions of Europe. In particular, the soils often remind wine growers of the soils of the Bordeaux region of southern France, which is why you’ll find so many Bordeaux style wines at Livermore Valley wineries. Some of the families in the valley come from long lines of Italian and even German winemakers, and wines from those countries are represented, as well.
What makes the Tri-Valley’s soil and location ideal for growing wine? The soil in the valley is described as mostly gravelly, with excellent drainage. The gravelly soil actually hinders the vines’ growth, in turn increasing the concentration of flavor in the grapes. Geography and climate are also key. The valley has an east-west orientation, which is unique to other California wine regions. The orientation allows coastal fog from the San Francisco Bay, along with marine breezes, to travel through the valley. The result is warm days followed by cool nights, which are ideal conditions for producing ripe grapes, well balanced in flavor.
A Wedding and Special Event Destination
The Tri-Valley Wine Country now flourishes as one of the premier wedding and special event destinations in Northern California. The beauty of the surrounding valley, combined with charming wineries, lush landscaping, and of course access to some of the best wines available, make it the perfect locale for celebrations.
Many Tri-Valley wineries specialize in assisting people in crafting the perfect event—from outdoor wedding venues, to sparkling dinners inside rustic barrel rooms, to parties or business meetings, small or large. Some wineries only provide a venue, others are fully staffed with coordinators, gourmet chefs, and wait staff. Check with your favorite wineries to find out what is provided.
What to Expect When You Go Tasting
When you come to the Tri-Valley Wine Country, expect to find attractive tasting rooms and knowledgeable staff to guide you through your tasting experience.
Most wineries charge $5 or $10 for tastings, a few offer complimentary tastings. You’ll hear about tasting “flights”, which is a selection of wines chosen by the winemaker for guests to compare and contrast the wines. A few wineries also offer more expensive tastings of $20 or more, which include pairings with gourmet meats and cheeses. Some also offer a tour and tasting experience for an additional charge.
Many wineries have beautiful outdoor patios or picnic grounds, and encourage guests to bring their own food, which of course they hope you’ll enjoy with a bottle of wine purchased inside.
To add to the tasting experience, many wineries line the tasting room walls with works of art, and some sell boutique gifts, or fine condiments like artisan mustards and olive oil. Many also bring in live music, and host their own special events throughout the year. Check the websites to find out what wineries you plan on visiting offer.
Enjoy your Tri-Valley Wine Country experience!
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