5 Wineries to Visit in Livermore Valley, California, Plus a Weekend Itinerary — Lexi's Wine List (2024)

There’s a hidden gem wine region in California that you probably haven’t been to yet, and dating back to the 1760’s, it has a rich history that’s worth exploring.

I’m talking about Livermore Valley. Located just 45 miles east of San Francisco, Livermore is home to over 50 wineries, making it the perfect day trip or off-the-beaten-path long weekend destination.

Keep reading this post to find out the best wineries to visit, where to eat, where to stay, and the ideal itinerary for a weekend in Livermore Valley.

5 Wineries to Visit in Livermore Valley, California, Plus a Weekend Itinerary — Lexi's Wine List (1)

Located in the far east side of California’s bay area, Livermore Valley has a Mediterranean climate, cooled by the San Francisco bay breezes and warmed by the California sunshine. This creates a supreme growing environment for wine grapes, as the heat of the day ripens the berries, while the cool nights maintain the grapes’ acidity levels.

With these perfect conditions, Livermore grows over 50 unique grape varieties across its rolling hillsides, making it a dreamy (and underrated) destination for wine lovers.

Thank you to the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association for hosting me and to 143 Communications for organizing this itinerary.

Note: This post contains some affiliate links that if clicked on and used to purchase wine may pay me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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livermore valley history

Spanish missionaries first planted grapes here in the 1760’s, and commercial winemaking was established in the late 1800’s.

As a cornerstone of California winemaking history, Livermore Valley is responsible for bringing some of the most iconic grape varieties to the state.

Cabernet Sauvignon was first planted here by James Concannon, who took cuttings from the esteemed Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux in 1893, which were developed into a clone that makes up about 80% of Cabernet Sauvignon in California today.

And the Wente Clone Chardonnay, which also originated here, makes up over 75% of all California Chardonnay.

But in case you’re not a history buff, my favorite part about this region is the warm hospitality and laidback vibes. It has a small-town energy that makes you feel at home amongst the picturesque rolling hills and vineyards.

And it’s made up of plenty of family-owned boutique wineries that are championing the terroir of Livermore and showcasing some incredible wines this region has to offer. Keep reading to find out where you should go wine tasting in Livermore.

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How to get to livermore valley

Located just 45 miles east of San Francisco, Livermore is easy to get to from the San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, or San Jose airports. I’d recommend renting a car from the airport and driving about one hour to wine country (you’ll need the car when you get there, anyway).

Where to stay in livermore valley

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I absolutely loved my stay the Purple Orchid Resort and Spa. This ten-room boutique hotel is complete with a pool, spa, homemade breakfast, plus daily wine and cheese social hour. It’s cozy quintessential wine country and the owners make you feel at home.

This is also a great home base - it’s about a ten-minute drive from downtown and five minutes from the closest wineries.

Where to eat in livermore valley

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For brunch or lunch, Wingen Bakery is a must. Founded by Bryan and Aimee Wingen, this bakery began as a home-based operation in 2020, inspired by their need to care for their terminally ill daughter, Waylynn. In the midst of tragedy, the Wingens turned their grief into a passion for baking, particularly sourdough. They’re located in the center of town and they offer a range of sourdough breads, pastries, and sandwiches.

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For a casual lunch or to-go adult lunchable, head to The Cheese Parlor. Owner Brandon Wood is one of only about 1,000 cheese mongers in the United States. He sources an array artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, and he only sells local wines. Pick up some snacks here to enjoy at your winery visits.

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For a laidback dinner with an Italian flare, Locanda Wine Bar is a fun staple. The food is comforting Italian-American, and the wine list features some local and Italian wines. And you already know there’s nothing better than a wood-fired pizza after a long day of wine tasting.

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For a more upscale dining experience, Range Life is a modern California-style restaurant, run by Executive Chef Bill Niles, celebrated for his unique culinary flair, and Sarah Elliott Niles, known for her acclaimed wine list. Together, they’ve produced a neighborhood bar and restaurant with a rotating menu of seasonal and local ingredients molded into combinations you’ve probably never tried before - like little gem lettuces with horseradish, or yellowtail crudo with strawberries and mint.

best livermore valley wineries

If you’re like me and enjoy a laidback environment for wine tasting, while also supporting small-production, family-owned wineries, you’re in the right place. Here are some of the best wineries to visit in Livermore Valley, in no particular order.

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1. Murrieta’s Well

This historic property dates back to 1884, when founder Louis Mel purchased the land and built the wine cellar that’s still in use today. He started the vineyard with cuttings from the famed Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux vineyards in France, and descendants of these vines are presently grown on the property.

Murrieta’s Well is named after local Gold Rush era bandit, Joaquin Murrieta, who discovered the property’s artesian well to hydrate his horses.

In 1940, Mel sold the winery to another famous player in Livermore, Ernest Wente, and the winery remains in the hands of the Wente family today.

This small-production winery is a must-stop for understanding the history of Livermore Valley. The tasting room associates are kind and hospitable as they share their special wines with you, like a unique blend of Tempranillo and Portuguese varieties Souzao and Touriga Nacional, or single varietal Petite Verdot.

If you like bold red wines, you’ll love Murrieta’s Well’s tasting lineup, crafted by Robbie Meyer, who you might recognize from Del Dotto Vineyards in Napa Valley. Keep an eye out for their special events, like the new food and wine pairing experience they’re launching this spring, or the sunset vineyard hikes offered throughout summer.

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2. Cuda Ridge Wines

For a homey tasting room with sweeping vineyard views and just some straight-up delicious wine, head to Cuda Ridge Wines.

Founded by Larry and Margie Dino in 2007, Cuda Ridge is known for its small-lot, handcrafted wines inspired by Bordeaux. Larry’s approach to winemaking leans Old World, with more spice, tannins, and savory notes in his red wines. He harvests earlier than most producers in the valley, allowing for refined wines with more acidity and structure, but less jammy fruit.

With a limited production of about 2400 cases, this family-owned winery is producing some delicious boutique wines and unique blends. The tasting room feel is casual, and you’ll most likely get to meet Larry and Margie themselves.

Be sure to try their S&M - a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot that might not exist anywhere else in the world.

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3. Darcie Kent Estate Winery

I’m pretty sure Darcie Kent Estate Winery might have some of the most beautiful tasting room views in Livermore.

Since 1996, this winery has been family-owned and operated by 5th and 6th generation winegrowers. The purple tasting barn sits on the family’s property, making it feel as if you’re being hosted in the Kents’ own home.

Along with some classic Bordeaux varieties, Darcie Kent is the only producer in the region to grow Grüner Veltliner. They craft a sparkling and still version of this Austrian grape, proceeds of which are donated to Doctors Without Borders.

An artist as well, Darcie paints all of the wine labels and artwork that decorates the tasting room. Enjoy a flight of tasty wines (including some of the only Pinot Noir from Livermore) while taking in the vineyard views.

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4. Wood Family Vineyards

Wood Family Vineyards is the kind of tasting room where you feel like you’re moseying up to the bar at an old friend’s house. It’s a casual, laidback environment that creates a relaxing space for enjoying a glass or two.

A truly family-owned and operated winery, Wood Family Vineyards is run by mother-son duo Rhonda and Harrison Wood. Rhonda, an ex-airline pilot has led winemaking since 2000, while Harrison handles other operations. You’ll likely get to meet the two (and their silver lab, Sauvignon) during your visit.

I absolutely love Rhonda’s winemaking style. She’s unique from other winemakers in the region - producing wines with more finesse. Don’t get me wrong, she slings a bold Cab Sauv and an inky Petite Sirah, but her Grenache, GSM, and Cabernet Franc are more my style. There’s just something for everyone here.

Wood Family Vineyards frequently offers live music events and they seem to treat their wine club members like family, so be sure to check them out on your next visit to Livermore.

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5. Concannon Vineyard

Another must-stop on any historic tour of Livermore, Concannon Vineyard is responsible for bringing the most important Cabernet Sauvignon to California.

Clippings from Bordeaux’s prestigious Chateau Margaux were planted on this property and later developed in the Clone 8, which makes up about 80% of all Cabernet Sauvignon in California today.

Along with this contribution to winemaking in California, Concannon is one of the longest operating wineries in the country, staying open even through Prohibition by producing sacramental wine for the church. The property has been established as California Registered Historical Landmark No. 641, and today they boast one of the largest tasting room properties in Livermore.

Concannon is also known for bottling the first single varietal Petite Syrah in the United States. You’ll get to taste the current vintage of this wine, along with some other big reds in the tasting lineup. If it’s a nice day, enjoy the patio views, and be sure to ask for the port and chocolate pairing, if it’s available.

Livermore valley WEEKEND ITINERARY

Here’s the exact itinerary from my visit to Livermore - the perfect schedule for a long weekend. While most places accept walk-ins, I’d recommend making reservations, especially if you plan to visit on a weekend.

Day 1

  • Once you make it to Livermore, it’s time for some wine tasting. Make your way to Cuda Ridge for a tasting of boutique wines made from Bordeaux varieties.

  • Arrive and check-in at the Purple Orchid Resort and Spa.

  • Drop your bags off, freshen up, and head downstairs for social hour. The Purple Orchid offers daily wine and cheese (included with your stay) from 4:30-5:30pm.

  • Make your way downtown for some pizza and pasta at Locanda Wine Bar to fuel you up for a weekend full of wine.

Day 2

  • Enjoy a homemade breakfast at the Purple Orchid while overlooking the pool, olive trees, and rolling hills.

  • Drive about 7 minutes to Concannon Vineyard for your first wine tasting of the day. Be sure to get some pictures in front of the historic Victorian mansion on property.

  • A lunch break is always a good idea. Grab a sandwich at Wingen Bakery and stock up on some pastries for later.

  • Back to wine tasting! Your next visit is at Murrieta’s Well for another history lesson and tasting of some bold reds.

  • Head back to the hotel for some downtime and optional social hour with wine and cheese at the Purple Orchid.

  • Tonight’s dinner is downtown again at Range Life. The milk and honey dessert is a must.

Day 3

  • Fuel up on breakfast at the Purple Orchid and pack your bags. It’s time to check out, but you have a few more spots to hit before you head home.

  • Drive about 5 minutes to Wood Family Vineyards for a tasting of their whites, rosés, and reds.

  • From there, you have a 3 minute drive to Darcie Kent. Enjoy some of the best views in Livermore while sipping on the only Grüner Veltliner grown in the region.

  • Before you hit the road, be sure to stop at The Cheese Parlor for a sandwich or a to-go cheese and charcuterie board.

  • Now it’s time to head home and start planning your next visit to Livermore Valley!

Livermore valley wines to try

In case you can’t make it to Livermore Valley anytime soon, or you’d like to brush up your palate before visiting, here are some of the region’s best wines to taste.


For a sneak peak at Livermore Valley wine country, check out this post:

If you enjoyed this post, check out my post about the 5 best wineries to visit in Lodi, California.

If you’d like to learn more about how to taste wine like a pro and get to know your palate on a deeper level, book an in-person or virtual wine tasting with me. And if you interested in trying new wines, you’d love my Wine Tasting Club - it’s like a book club, but for virtual wine tastings.

For more wines to try, see this list of the 11 best wines for beginners. Or sign up for my free Weekly Wine Reviews for my unfiltered ratings, tasting notes, and food pairing suggestions for bottles you can grab on your next grocery run.

Ready to further your wine education? Enroll in a WSET class today and use code LexiStephens for a discount.

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Wine Travel

Lexi Stephens

Wine, White Wine, wine tasting, Wine for beginners, Best beginner wines, Sweet wines, wine travel, california wineries

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5 Wineries to Visit in Livermore Valley, California, Plus a Weekend Itinerary — Lexi's Wine List (2024)
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