Livermore Valley Wine Country

From Mendocino to the Temecula Valley, California’s wine industry continues to expand. According to the Wine Institute by 2017, the state had registered 127 American Viticultural Area’s, or regions recognized for growing grapes. Travel anywhere within the U.S. and you will find California wines on the menu. Living in the Bay Area, we’re lucky enough to be a day trip (or less) away from several. 

While I support wine tasting as a year-round activity, now that Mother Nature has eased her grip on the rain, it’s a great time to plan a winery-picnic visit. 

Tri-Valley residents are a hop, skip and a jump from Livermore, the original wine country in California. Wente Vineyards, founded in 1883, leads the way as the oldest continuously operating winery. With more than 50 wineries in the valley to choose from, there are dozens of picnicking opportunities. Here are just a few to get you started. 

Crooked Vine Winery

4948 Tesla Road, Livermore
Tasting Room Hours:
Monday- Saturday 11am-4:30pm; Sunday 12pm- 4:30pm
Tasting fee: $10-15 per person

Vineyard at sunset in Livermore Wine Country, California. Adobe Stock.

Family owned and operated, Crooked Vine & Stony Ridge Winery features beautifully landscaped grounds. A full-production winery, they make all their wines from grapes grown right in the Livermore Valley. From sparkling whites to award-winning red blends, they have 16 varietals in their arsenal. Winery guests can enjoy tastings, then select a favorite to savor on the front deck or garden courtyard with a picnic lunch. 

Dante Robere

1200 Wetmore Road, Livermore
Tasting Room Hours:
Friday: 1-5pm; Saturday and Sunday: 12- 5pm
Tasting fee: $15 per person

Photo by Janet Fazio

Dan and Bob, the masterminds behind Dante Robere, love to share their winemaking experience and can often be found in the tasting room pouring flights for guests. Choose from two different flights from Chardonnay to Zinfandel. Be sure to sample some of their specialty red blends, like Dante’s Inferno and Roberitage. The spacious outdoor patio is perfect for a picnic. Or, if you prefer, head across the street to Sycamore Grove Park and enjoy a picnic and stroll through miles of paved hiking and biking trails. Check out the 2.63-mile Winery Loop Trail, where you’ll see olive orchards, almond orchards, and the Olivina Winery Ruins. The park has water and restroom facilities, There is a $7 to park at Sycamore Grove Park.  

Ruby Hill Winery

400 Vineyard Avenue, Pleasanton
Tasting Room Hours:
Open daily: 11am-5:30pm.
Tasting fee: $15-20 per person

Photo by Janet Fazio

If you don’t want to pack a picnic, head to Ruby Hill. Besides 11 varietals of wine, the tasting room has a deli counter with specialty meats and cheeses available for purchase. Enjoy a bite on their patio that overlooks the the150-acre vineyard. 

If you go: Pack a sweater. Even on hot days tasting rooms will be cool. Bring water, wear sunscreen and a hat. As we head into wedding season, it’s a good idea to check with the winery before heading out to make sure they aren’t closed for a private event. Please drink responsibly. 

A version of this post appears in the May 2019 issue of Your Town Monthly magazine.