Alright you guys, I know the first question you are all thinking is, "Where and what the heck is the Tri-Valley?" Honestly, before I went on this trip I was wondering the same thing myself. The Tri-Valley is located about 35 miles east of San Francisco and is made up of the towns, Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, and Danville. Within these towns are award-winning wineries, amazing restaurants, breweries, shops and more! Not to mention every one of these city's downtown looked straight out of a movie. Whether you want to hit up as many wineries as you can, take on their beer and ice cream trail or shop at the largest premium outlet shopping center in the country, I am confident this is where your next getaway needs to be!
For more information please visit: Visit Tri-Valley
The first winery I had the chance to experience during my time in the Tri-Valley was Cuda Ridge Wines. Cuda Ridge was founded by Larry and Margie Dino who pride themselves in producing traditional style Bordeaux wines. They produce around 2,100 cases per year and are growing every day! I was lucky to try all of their current Bordeaux varietals that they are producing at the moment which was; Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Cuda Ridge is one of the only wineries within the Livermore Valley to be producing a stand-alone Semillion wine and it was fantastic. Cuda Ridge is the definition of a hidden gem winery with a passion for creating delicious wines that take advantage of the fabulous Livermore terroir. When you visit Cuda Ridge expect nothing short of the royal treatment no matter who you are because they treat everyone like family as soon as you walk in their door. I would recommend them to anyone visiting the Livermore Valley and I am already planning my next visit in a couple of weeks!
For more information please visit: Cuda Ridge
On my day of arrival, I had the honor of attending the 2018 Taste Our Terroir Food and Wine Pairing Competition at Casa Real put on by the Livermore Valley Wine Growers Association. This sold-out event of over 700 guests was judged by the one and only Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast Magazine was an event that I will never forget! I walked around tasting some of the best food and wine pairings that I have ever experienced, I couldn't even imagine choosing a winner myself. For reference, here are the winners of the evening:
Best Classic Pairing: Mitchell Katz Winery and Atria Senior Living • 2013 Speechless Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Livermore Valley (Mitchell Katz, winemaker) • Wagyu Ribeye topped with Barrel-Aged Shoyu and fresh grated Horseradish (Chad Welch, executive chef).
Most Innovative Pairing: Wood Family Vineyards and First Street Alehouse • 2015 VIVA Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley (Rhonda Wood, winemaker, and owner) • Curry Fried Chicken Frankie with Mango Chutney Aioli, Pickled Vegetables, Chimichurri Sauce and Fresh Cilantro (Tara Teetsel, chef)
Judge’s Best Pairing: Longevity Wines and BackDoor Bistro and Wine Bar • 2017 Pinot Blanc, Livermore Valley (Phil Long, winemaker, and owner) • Shrimp Aguachili and local Melon on a Chili Dusted Potato Chip with Avocado Crema (Lindsey Chelini, head chef and founder)
The coveted People’s Choice Awards were given to Best White Wine Pairing: McGrail Vineyards and Winery and Attraversiamo • 2017 McGrail Vineyards Kylie Ryan Rose, Livermore Valley (Mark Clarin, winemaker) • Mexican Street Corn—Local Brentwood Corn, Mayo, Pimenton, Pine Nuts, Lime, Chives topped with a Spicy Chicharron (Jourdan de Sanctis, executive chef, and owner)
Best Red Wine Pairing: Wood Family Vineyards and First Street Alehouse • 2015 VIVA Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley (Rhonda Wood, winemaker, and owner) • Curry Fried Chicken Frankie with Mango Chutney Aioli, Pickled Vegetables, Chimichurri Sauce and Fresh Cilantro (Tara Teetsel, chef)
Taste Our Terroir 2018 was produced by the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association and sponsored by VinoDestinations, Dublin Doin’ it Right Dealers, Black Tie Transportation, the City of Dublin, City of Livermore, Visit Tri-Valley, Amos Productions, Sysco, Crystal Cruises, Livermore Valley Florist, and Imagesetters. Visit www.LVwine.org
Next up on my little getaway to the Tri-Valley, we started our Friday morning with some history at the Blackhawk Museum. The Blackhawk Museum is famous for stimulating your interest and understanding of art, culture, and history. This museum has something to offer for any age group which is what I loved the most about it. Through their engaging exhibitions, the Blackhawk Museum is the perfect place to educate and become inspired by history and culture. If you are in the Tri-Valley area, you must put this museum on the list for your cultural fix! After an amazing tour led by our guide, Cristal, it was time for lunch at a Tri-Valley favorite, Danville Harvest. You can expect nothing less than a delicious and modern farm to table meal at Danville Harvest. Chef Tim Humphrey keeps things interesting at Danville with a rotating menu depending on what's in the season so he only uses the best and freshest ingredients possible. I was lucky enough to taste Tim's famous Scallion Hush Puppies, Shrimp and Grits, and amazing Grilled Shrimp Salad. What I loved the most about Danville Harvest is I left feeling sufficiently satisfied and not overly full. With a day ahead of wine tasting and a pitstop on the Tri-Valley IceCream Trai, I definitely needed to save room!
For more information please visit:
Black Hawk Museum
Livermore Valley Wine Growers Association
The second winery we had the privilege of visiting was Wente Family Vineyards! Wente Vineyards recently celebrated its 135th anniversary and is recognized as being the country's oldest family-owned winery since 1883. Owned by 4th and 5th generation family members, Wente continues to grow and is seen in stores across the globe in over 75 different countries. Although my main focus when traveling is to highlight small family-run wineries, Wente felt different when I arrived. Yes, they started out as a small family-run winery and are now mass-produced but somehow they still keep that intimate wine tasting experience alive at their tasting room. We were privileged to go through a blind tasting with one of their sommeliers and you could just tell how much he loved his job and had so much respect for the Wente family. It takes a special kind of winery to make you feel important while you are tasting with them and Wente Vineyards definitely succeeded in doing that. I feel confident recommending Wente's tasting room in Livermore Valley to anyone visiting this region and I look forward to my visit back!
For more information, please visit:
The third winery we were able to experience during our visit to the Tri-Valley was Darcie Kent Vineyards. For those that follow my Instagram feed and stories, you know that I have been raving about Darcie Kent's chardonnay for weeks! I came home with three bottles and wish I came back with three cases. What I noticed first when entering this winery are the family's love and passion. The entrance looks like you are in someone's beautiful countryside backyard and the inside feels like you are tasting inside the wine maker's home with a view of the vineyard. Not to mention all of Darcie's beautiful artwork throughout the tasting room along with family photos of her daughters, it really is a special experience. Darcie Kent carries on her family's winery as a 5th generation vintner. Just like Darcie's grandfather, Darcie created custom made artwork for every wine label to give each wine the unique spirit of the vineyard that it deserves. Darcie, her husband David, and her two daughters Kailyn and Amanda thrive in carrying on their family's legacy of a world-class, family-owned estate winery showcasing the beautiful terroir of the Livermore Valley.
For more information, please visit:
We ended a fabulous day of wine tasting with the Taste Our Terroir Winemaker Concert at Chandler Vineyards Estate hosted by wineries, Page Mill and McGrail. It was an evening filled with delicious wine, appetizers, and live music which was performed by winemakers, Dane Stark and Mark Clarin! While winemakers serenaded us with their musical talent we enjoyed tasting their delicious wines and experienced the true terroir of Livermore Wine Country.
For more information please visit:
McGrail Vineyards and Winery
Page Mill Winery
Retzlaff Vineyards and Winery
Thank you to everyone who made my experience in the Tri-Valley one to remember! From the food to the wine, to the hospitality I already have planned my next trip back!
Transportation provided by Black Tie Transportation
Hotel Accommodations provided by Hawthorn Suites Livermore
Hosted by the Livermore Wine Growers Association and Visit Tri-Valley