On November 12 the wineries of Livermore Valley gathered at the St. Regis Hotel for a unique tasting showcasing some of Livermore Valley’s finest wines. Livermore Valley is a historic highlight in the wine industry in California. It is one of California’s oldest wine regions, earning its American Viticultural Area (AVA) status in 1982. The valley played a pivotal role in shaping California’s wine industry.
- Closest wine region to the Bay Area and surrounded by 7.5 million people – Livermore Valley, 25 miles from downtown San Francisco
- Oldest continuously owned and operated family winery – Wente Vineyards of Livermore Valley founded in 1883
- America’s oldest ongoing winery under same family name – Concannon Vineyard of Livermore Valley founded in 1883
- Member of America’s oldest winemaking family (Mirassou Winery founded in 1854) – Steven Mirassou of Steven Kent Winery in Livermore Valley
- Winner of the first international gold medal for wine at Paris Exposition – Charles Wetmore of Cresta Blanca Winery in Livermore brings home the Grand Prize (87 years prior to the Judgment of Paris tasting)
- First bottling of Chardonnay labeled wine – Wente Winery
- Genetic roots for 80% of all Chardonnay vines in California – Wente Winery Wente clone
- Genetic roots for about 80% of California Cabernet Sauvignon vines – Concannon Winery Concannon clone
- First bottling of Petite Sirah labeled wine – Concannon Winery
Karen MacNeil author of “Wine Bible” says that Livermore Valley is, “The combination of bright light, heat and strong winds, followed by nighttime cooling, plus the valley’s shallow soil, is reminiscent of parts of southern France.”
Spanish missionaries planted the first wine grapes in the Livermore Valley in the 1760s. In the 1840s, California pioneers looking for outstanding vineyard sites began planting grapes in the region. Robert Livermore planted the first commercial vines in the 1840s. Pioneer winemakers C. H. Wente, James Concannon, and Charles Wetmore recognized the area’s winegrowing potential and founded their wineries in the early 1880s.
Less than an hour east of San Francisco, Livermore Valley Wine Country welcomes visitors with a flourish expanse of vineyards, wineries, and wine country experiences. Amid picturesque canyons, ridges and outposts of suburbia, the lush vines and convivial tasting rooms increasingly define the quality of life in the valley. To the delight of residents and visitors alike, the region is enjoying a wine renaissance harking back to the golden years of early California wine history.
Attracted to the rich winemaking tradition, climate, soil and geography, new winemakers and vineyardists are working alongside fifth generation winegrowers to create this Livermore Valley wine renaissance. The region now has over 50 wineries, with several more about to open, and more than 5,000 acres of vineyards. Wineries vary in size from limited release, 100-case labors of love to 400,000-case industry heavyweights, and grapes range from familiar Merlot and Chardonnay to Italian, Rhone and Spanish varieties. Welcoming tasting rooms showcase award-winning wines and offer year around activities. In addition to the myriad happenings at individual wineries, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association sponsors several consumer events each year, showcasing the talent, energy and fine wines of the region.
At the St. Regis tasting 15 Livermore Valley wineries shared their best wines.
- 3 Steves Winery was founded by three friends, all named Steve shared their 2014 Chardonnay, 2013 Merlot and 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Concannon Vineyard shared their 2014 Reserve Assemblage Blanc, 2012 “Mother Vine” Cab and 2008 “Heritage” Petite Sirah. Concannon also showed off some of their older bottles including a 1962 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cuda Ridge Wines is dedicated to handcrafted, small lot Bordeaux-style wines let us taste a 2013 Cabernet Franc, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Petit Verdot.
- Dante Robere is one of Livermore’s newest wineries founded by two friends and is famous for their Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon but also gave us a sneak peek of their new 2013 Tempranillo.
- Fenestra Winery has been producing wine in Livermore Valley since 1976 and featured their 2010 “Conjugation” Bordeaux-style blend, 2012 “Infrared” GSM blend and 2011 Petite Sirah.
- Las Positas Vineyards in a small family run winery that has been producing many award-winning wines and brought along their 2012 “Coccineous”, 2012 Tempranillo, and 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
- McGrail Vineyards specializes in premium Cabernet Sauvignon and a few years ago captured “Best Red Wine” at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. At this tasting we enjoyed the 2014 McGrail Chardonnay, 2013 “Shamus Patrick” Red Blend and 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
- Murrieta’s Well is famous for their estate blends including the 2013 “The Whip” and 2012 “The Spur”
- Nottingham Cellars has been a dream come true for Jeff Cranor and his son (and winemaker) Collin, producing world class Bordeaux style wines, including the 2012 “Smith Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 “Supremacy” Bordeaux-style red blend.
- Occasio Wines is committed to the heritage varietals of Livermore Valley wines focusing on the terroir of Livermore Valley. We enjoyed their 2009 Heritage Chardonnay, 2012 Heritage Cabernet Franc and 2013 Heritage Syrah.
- Page Mill Winery was founded on the peninsula and later moved to Livermore Valley where they now focus on grapes from their adopted home. They shared their 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Estate Petite Sirah.
- The Steven Kent Winery is owned and operated by Steven Kent Mirassou, sixth generation winemaker and they focus on small lot world class Cab and Bordeaux varietals. We tasted the 2011 “Lineage”, 2012 “The Premier” and 2013 Cabernet Franc.
- Vasco Urbano Wine Company draws upon the many Rhone varieties found in small lots in Livermore Valley. They shared the 2013 “The Sheriff” GSM blend, 2013 “Norm” Grenache and 2013 “Heine” Petite Sirah.
- Wente Vineyards and the Wente family shared their 2014 Small Lot “Eric’s Chardonnay”, 2013 “Nth Degree” Chardonnay and 2013 “Charles Wetmore” Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Winemakers Studio at Wente Vineyards awarded “Best Winery Tasting Room” by Sunset Magazine put on a display showing what you can learn at this special wine tasting and educational venue. The Livermore Wine Trolley was also there talking about their “Taste of Livermore Wine Tour”.
Following the walk-around tasting several of the winemakers came together to share their wine stories about their history in Livermore Valley. This included Karl Wente, fifth generation winemaker at Wente, John Concannon, fourth generation winemaker at Concannon, Steven Kent Mirassou of Steven Kent Winery, Collin Cranor of Vasco Urbano Wine Company, Bob Bossi of Dante Robere Vineyards, John Kinney of Occasio Winery and Steve Burman of 3 Steves Winery.