LIVERMORE — High above Del Valle Lake on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail it hits you.
The sweeping vistas, the storied wineries, the gentle rolling vineyards, the thriving cultural arts, the charming people friendly downtown, and California’s largest outlet center — Livermore has done more than just “arrived.” It rivals Napa and its surrounding valley as a worthy weekend destination.
Although the storied Napa Valley has become a ritzy tourist trap of sorts and has a world-wide reputation for its wine labels, Livermore offers many of the same attributes without wearing out your debit card.
And it claims roots in the California wine industry that runs much deeper than those in Napa.
The first grapes were planted in the Livermore Valley in the 1760s by Spanish missionaries — some 90 years before the first commercial winery popped up in the Napa Valley.
Wente Vineyards and Concannon Vineyards have led the rebirth of the Livermore wine region taking full advantage of the climate, soil, and gently rolling terrain. Not only are there now 50 plus wineries, Livermore has five craft breweries — Altamont Beer Works, First Street Ale House, Working Brewing Company and Eight Bridges Brewery.
Two events showcase the local libations. The second annual Livermore Craft Valley Beer Festival with unlimited pours from nearly 30 local and regional breweries is Saturday, May 14, with tickets between $42.99 and $69.24. For details go to Eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-Livermore-valley-craft-beer-festival-tickets.
The Livermore Wine Country Downtown Street Fest Saturday, Apirl 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. is designed to celebrate Downtown Livermore as well as the Livermore Valley Wine Country. More than 300 vendors and over 150,000 attendees flock to Livermore where many take the opportunity to shop the downtown’s unique boutiques and its seemingly endless list of dining options.
Livermore Wine Country
As for activities beyond basic winery tasting room hours, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers have two major events and endless smaller ones to satisfy your wine and entertainment cravings. First there is the Down to Earth event April 22-24. Wineries are hosting eco-focused classes, walks through vineyards and talks throughout the three days. The Taste Our Terroir July 21-24 matches 19 wineries with top chefs from across the Bay Area in a competition for top pairing honors. It also includes 10 wineries hosting food and wine events including cooking classes, wine seminars and vineyard tours.
Each month the Livermore Valley Winegrowers have a long list of events at individual wineries. Among those on tap for April are Rhone-style wine pairings with cheese for $5 at Les Chenes Estates Vineyards on Saturday, Apirl 9, 16. 23, 30; chocolate truffles and wine pairings at Los Positas Vineyards on Saturday, April 9, 17 , 23, 30 for $20; the Dionysus Dash 5K at Concannon Vineyard for $29.99 on Sunday, Apirl 10; International Cheese & Wine Pairing at Los Positas Vineyards for $20 on Sunday, April 10, 24;Cheesecake, Cupcake Wine Pairings at Las Positas Vineyards for $20 on Saturday, April 16; Music in the Vines and Posadas Lunch at McGrail Vineyards (complimentary entry) on Sunday, Apirl 17; Inner Artiste Sip-n-Paint at Concannon Vineyard for $55 on Wednesday, Apirl 20; Evening at the Winery Comic Night featuring Dennis Gaxiola for $40 at Los Positas Vineyards on Friday, April 22; Barrel Room Jam with the Catfish Brothers at McGrail Vineyards for $10 on Saturday, Apirl 23; and Paella Party at McGrail Vineyards featuring an intimate dinner with Paella and Tamales from Posada Restaurant with Vintage Noise playing background music at $100 per couple or $75 for a single on Saturday, Apirl 30.
Details on those events, other upcoming events, as well as information on wineries are available at lvwine.org.
Shopping & culture
The San Francisco Premium Outlets just off Interstate 580 is the Golden State’s biggest.
And while that is a shopping treat unto itself, downtown Livermore with its one-of-a-kind shops, numerous restaurants with plenty of outside dining options, art, two movie houses, murals, and more is even better as the feeling is laid back.
Livermore also boasts of a symphony orchestra, opera company, several dance companies, a Shakespeare Festival, chamber music series, and dozens of other art groups that stage performances and events thought the year.
For more information on Livermore’s offerings and to tap into a site that lets you access numerous other sites for planning a Livermore excursion, go to www.cityoflivermore.net/visitors/.