Did you know that only 13% of California’s wine is grown in the well-known wine region Napa and Sonoma? California has more than one wine region and one of them, Livermore Valley, happens to be in my backyard.
Livermore is twice as close to Silicon Valley as Napa and Sonoma. From San Francisco and Oakland, you reach Livermore via public transportation, BART. From the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station it is a short Uber ride to numerous vineyards.
Once a year, in mid-July, Livermore celebrates its particularly convenient wine region with an event called the Taste Our Terroir. It is a party for wine lovers, thrown by wine lovers, and this year we got invited.
Taste Our Terroir offers numerous events. Events this year included:
- The Art of FlambÃ© Wine Paired Dinner
- Garden Lunches
- An All RosÃ© Tasting
- A Sunset Lobster Boil
- Brunch in the Vineyards
- A Wine Country Progressive Dinner
My wife and I attended the progressive dinner as guests of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association which sponsors the Taste Our Terroir. This event was a three-course dinner, including wine, that was held at three different local wineries. Guests are bused between the 3 locations.
Appetizers – Steven Kent Winery
This year the appetizers course was held at the Steven Kent Winery. The winemaker there is Steven Kent Mirassou who is the sixth generation of the Mirassou family to make wine locally. We used to visit the Mirassou winery in East San Jose when we first moved to town in the mid-1980s. In 2002, the family sold the winery and the brand name to Gallo wines.
The appetizers course included a tasty collection of cheese, some mushroom puffs, bacon-wrapped dates, and Beef Wellington tarts. They were also pouring at least 8 different wines.
I tasted three or four of their wines and enjoyed all of them. The 2015 Merrillie Chardonnay from Arroyo Seco was quite good, their signature 2013 Lineage blend was excellent, although perhaps a bit rich for me at $155 a bottle. I also enjoyed their â€œNevermoreâ€ blend of Cab Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.
Their tasting room looks like a traditional wine cellar, decorated with bright modern art, and small standing tables where you can find a bit of elbow room. The night had started well. Did I mention the bacon-wrapped dates?
Dinner – GarrÃ©Â Winery & Cafe
The GarrÃ© Winery & Cafe served a salad course and main course, each course, of course, with wine. The salad was an unusual but tasty watermelon mint salad with pine nuts and feta cheese. It was paired with a Chardonnay. The main course was Ossobuco which was just wonderful. It was paired with a red wine, but I didn’t get the details.
The details on the wine get just a little fuzzy at this point, but not so much because of the quantity of wine consumed but because of the excellent conversation. We sat at a table for eight and talked about technology, writing and almost everything but wine. The wines were good at the entire progressive dinner, but the conversation is what made it more enjoyable and memorable.
The CafÃ© at GarrÃ© is open for lunch daily Monday thru Thursday and lunch and dinner Friday – Sunday.
Dessert – Charles R Vineyards
We got back in our high-end tour bus and drove out to the end of the road for dessert at Charles R Vineyards. Some of the locals at our table said this is one of their favorite wineries for visiting in the evening on a hot summer day. They love to sit outside and hear the sounds of nature with a nice glass of wine on its patio. The hot days of Summer in Livermore cools down for lovely pleasant evenings.
They served us a wonderful torte, a Zinfandel, and a delicious port wine.
More on Livermore
That also gave us a chance in the morning to hike one of the local trails, the Martin Canyon Creek Trail in Dublin.
We also stopped at one of the other 40+ wineries in the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, Retzlaff Vineyards. Retzlaff has live music on Sundays and a great picnic area. We had run out of their port wine and needed to restock.
We have previously enjoyed some other hikes in the area, particularly Sycamore Grove Park. We’ve also previously enjoyed the local bocce courts at Campo Di Bocce which closed in the COVID pandemic. We still need to spend more time investigating the restaurant scene in Livermore.
If you’re a wine connoisseur or just a wine fan, and if you plan to be or can be near in Livermore next July, you might put the Taste Our Terroir on your calendar. They also have an annual Harvest Wine Celebration in early September and a rotating Wine Wednesday from January through mid-November. Or just come by for a tasting at your own convenience.