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Livermore Wine Country

Nov 20, 2007 |  WineBratSF (7) |  Wine Tasting, Guest Bloggers |  0 comments

Ahhh Livermore. Windmills, tract houses, nuclear secrets, and…wine? Yep, it's true. Livermore has wine. Who knew! I don't quite know how this happened, but this city girl had never been to Livermore wine country.

Livermore VineyardLivermore Valley actually outdates Napa as the first wine region in Northern California, which began sometime around the Gold Rush. I guess if you were a European miner, you needed your juice to keep digging. There used to be over 50 wineries in the region, until the Feds put the kibosh on liquor sales with Prohibition in the 1920s. Now, there are about 35 wineries, although they don't all have tasting rooms open to the public and others are best ignored if you value your taste buds.

Our first stop was Steven Kent, by special request. Having never been, I was in for a treat. Steven Kent is on the main wine road, Tesla Road. After driving around in a giant circle in order to avoid both Lawrence Livermore Labs and the rows and rows of giant McMansions, we finally found the winery, much to the delight of the carload of wine lovers. They have a cozy setup, with a house on top, and a tasting room tucked underneath in a nice cool cellar.

The first wine was nothing to write home about, but the 2nd white, the Merrille Chardonnay (Price Search) was what everyone had come for. Now, not being a huge chardonnay kind of person, I didn't have any expectations but since I was the designated drinker (meaning I actually got out of driving), I did my part and took a sip. This was a very interesting wine. It was heavily oaked and very creamy, but wasn't bitter like a certain two dollar variety I will not mention. It had amazing vanilla and spice characteristics, which seem to be a Livermore Valley trend. Even though I was on the rebound from the big, butter whites of yesteryear, this was different enough to find myself enjoying the very generous half glass taste we were poured. The two reds poured were also tasty. For such large pours, the $5 tasting fee was happily spent.

After a poorly chosen detour to a small coop tasting room, we trundled down the road to the granddaddy of Livermore wine, Concannon. This is a big operation, having been in Livermore for over 100 years. I've known about this place for a while, buying their everyday line of Petite Sirah for weeknight drinking frequently. My two standout hits were the Livermore Merlot and the Reserve Syrah. Now, I don't' LIKE merlot! Call me Miles, but…anyway, the Livermore Merlot was very different than the Napa Merlot, and had a silky texture and fruity slightly sweet flavor which was absolutely yummy.

All in all, I would love to go back and explore some of the other wineries in Livermore, because it seems like there is promise in them vines. The prices are not unreasonable and the people are personable, which makes for a nice alternative to the traffic and overpriced tasting rooms of Napa.

Happy drinking!
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