Livermore Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is still considered, to many visitors from the far-flung corners of our little world, an undiscovered country. The Livermore Valley is one of many AVAs that struggles to keep its reputation from perpetually languishing in the shadow of a relatively nearby neighbor, the Napa Valley. Naturally, Napa, and its inescapable prominence reigns, and has since lorded, over the Bay Area and Northern California since the middle of the 19th Century. Livermore, however, has also thrust its historical roots into Bay Area wine history, its first winery established in 1882, and has since contributed to the Bay Area’s rich and robust wine growing legacy. The AVA encompasses much of the surrounding area, from Livermore Valley, through the Amador Valley (Pleasanton…note not Amador County) and includes elements of Sunol and up through the Palomares Canyon (more on these wineries in later features).
Reasons to Visit
It’s Another Alternative to Napa: Napa revels in its tyranny of popularity. Its weekend customer crush is reminiscent of a Southern California theme park in the summer. Venture into calmer Livermore wine climes to luxuriate with a nice, crisp chardonnay or enjoy the piquant luster of a lush petite sirah.
It’s Inexpensive: Livermore eschews exorbitant tasting fees, and several don’t change anything at all. A good vintage wine will typically not top $40.00, and won’t vaporize a working person’s bank account. Additionally, where wine service notoriously cold and artificial in other regions, generally, people are fastidiously knowledgeable and attentive as well as warm and welcoming.
Local Beauty: The bucolic surrounding country makes for a wonderful afternoon idyll.
Dessert Wines: Warm days and cool nights make this an excellent region for your port, muscat and late harvest whites and reds
It’s (Possibly) a Threatened AVA: Population growth in the last decade could be desiccating the Livermore Valley basin, threatening its aquifers, and, thus, the region’s agriculture.
Wineries: Steven Kent, the Singing Winemaker, and newcomer Ehrenberg (formerly in Alameda at Rock Wall Winery) and veteran winery Thomas Coyne. John Christopher (located downtown) is a must-visit, as is the exquisite Elliston Vineyards manse in Sunol. Venture into the Palomares Canyon to Chouinard for reds and Westover for a fine array of ports.