How to Plan a Getaway to Livermore Valley

Range Life restaurant (Photo by Molly Decoudreaux)

Livermore Valley, touted as one of the state’s oldest wine regions, dating back to the late 1800s, is where both the chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon grapes originated in California. And if we are talking numbers, Wente Vineyards’ chardonnay clone is the source of more than 80 percent of the chardonnay produced in the U.S., while Concannon Vineyards’ cabernet sauvignon clones account for 80 percent of the grapes grown in California. More than 40 vineyards call the AVA home and a wide variety of wines are produced here, many with a softer, more European bent than what is produced in the wine regions north of Marin. While fashion lovers flock to Livermore for the Premium Outlets (for good reason — think Prada, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Arc’teryx, Brunello Cucinelli, John Varvatos, Loro Piana and so many more), wine aficionados and history buffs will love the valley. Here is a starter’s guide to eating and drinking your way through the region.


Concannon Vineyard

4590 Tesla Road

This historic property was founded in 1883 and boasts many award-winning wines thanks to its family’s four generations of storied winemaking. Tastings can be booked indoors or outdoors — and we highly recommend the terrace or the pavilion, but don’t miss the museum-like collection of older vintages inside (the evolution of the bottles’ shapes and sizes is fascinating). And if you find yourself in the area without a reservation, not to worry. The wine bar offers wine by the glass and a relaxed setting to enjoy it in.


The Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort and Spa

4549 Cross Road

If you are going to make a weekend of Livermore Valley, booking a stay at this 10-room resort is a must. Each room has its own gas fireplace and a homemade breakfast is included. Situated close to the wineries, it has both a pool and a quaint spa — and what is a trip to Wine Country without a spa visit? We especially love that the resort, nestled among 21 acres of olive trees, produces unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil (available for purchase).


Darcie Kent Estate Winery

7000 Tesla Road

Those in search of a relaxed, art-filled experience should head straight to Darcie Kent. Not only has owner Darcie (a fifth-generation vintner) created all the wine labels and art that dots the tasting room walls, but her property has a bohemian ambience that lulls you into a state of I-may-never-want-to-go-home. Notes of European winemaking are very apparent in Hungarian-born winemaker Julian Halasz’s creations, and trust us, that is a good thing.


Murrieta’s Well

3005 Mines Road

One of Livermore Valley’s original wine estates, the winery and vineyard today are headed up by Jordan Wente, fifth-generation winegrower and eldest daughter of Phil Wente of Wente Vineyards fame. The second floor tasting room offers stunning views of the property. The tasting experiences include a food pairing and an option for Sunday brunch — perfect for those who want to stay awhile and enjoy the stunning grounds.


Range Life

2160 Railroad Avenue

This neighborhood eatery has set the standard for the Livermore food scene. The menu is best described as modern rustic, but it is so much more than that. Flavors are thoughtfully combined and the service is on par with a fine dining establishment. The atmosphere is buzzy and the spot is always busy so reservations are highly recommended.


Locanda Wine Bar

2293 First Street

This charming wine bar serves an abbreviated-but-tempting menu of antipasti, pasta, pizza and paninis, as well as a brunch menu that would be a great option pre-wine tasting. The beautifully prepared dishes ooze authenticity. Definitely worth the stop.