Along with my wife and friends, I’ve made many “Economic Stimulus Trips” (that means eating fine food and drinking fine wine) to California’s famous wine-making valleys: Alexander, Napa, Russian River, and Sonoma. I’ve traveled to some of Europe’s top wine regions like the Alsace, Burgundy, and Tuscany. And in October I had a grand time at British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Festival.
But guess what long-time wine producing region, not far from my home, I’ve never, ever, ever, set foot in? If you said “Livermore Valley”, you would be right. And what’s amazing about my failure to get there is that the very first wine I drank when I came to California back in 1968 was Pinot Chardonnay from the family-owned Wente Vineyards which has been in business since 1883.
The Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley by travel writer Thomas C. Wilmer is going to change all of that. This guidebook to one of California’s “hidden” wine destinations covers Wente (page 141 of Tom’s book) and thirty-nine other wineries. The names of three are particularly intriguing to me: Darcie Ken Vineyards & Underdog Wine Bar (I always think of myself as an “underdog”), Longevity Wines (I’ll drink to a long life drinking wine!), and The Singing Winemaker (has Elvis entered the winery building?).
But since man (nor woman) cannot live by wine tasting alone, Tom has included an extensive “Things to Do and See” section at the end of the book with these headings:
- Shops & Wine Bars (Niles Canyon Railway’s Wine Tasting on Wheels” sounds like the way to go)
- Events (I worked at a wine country cooking school, so the Taste of Terroir: Livermore Valley’s Wine & Food Experience has got me salivating)
- Theater (the Livermore Shakespeare Festival is much closer to my home than the similar theater extravaganza that I often attend in Southern Oregon)
- Activities (I like to go day-hiking, and this guidebook lists several trails and parks in the Livermore area)
- Places to See (the Lawrence Livermore Lab and the long-burning Centennial Light Bulb at Fire Station #6 will appeal to “high energy” fans)
- Golf (best to try making par on Wente’s Greg Norman designed course before you begin wine tasting)
- Restaurants (stay to dine at Wente after your round of golf, or play bocce ball and then eat at Campo di Bocce)
- Lodging (major hotel chains, the stylish Rose Hotel, or the rustic Purple Orchid Inn Resort & Spa)
- Visitors Resources (contact information for the local wine growers association, visitor & convention bureau, and chambers of commerce)
- Towns (a brief description of the region’s seven towns and Livermore Valley American Viticultural area)
Now that Northern California’s damp and stormy winter has blown away and spring has arrived, I’m excited about using The Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley to plan my next wine tasting excursion. (My thanks to Tom Wilmer for providing me with a review copy of this guidebook.)
(From time to time travel writer Dick Jordan posts book reviews under the “Armchair Travel” and “Book Review” sections of his blog, Tales Told From The Road. His last post to the Book(ed) Passage blog was “Hitting The Books Again”, a review of Rolf Potts’ book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There.
When Dick isn’t traveling, you can usually find him hanging out with other members of Left Coast Writers at the Book Passage Corte Madera store on the evening of the first Monday of each month.)