On the wine trail…

A tour of Livermore’s wineries

Traveling the wine trail is always an adventure. Sometimes I compare it to traveling to an exotic destination. A wine region can posses such unique diversity that a nervous energy often flows through me in anticipation of beginning the taste and discovery process.

Livermore Grapes

So with sunny skies and lightly warm temperature, we set off for two days of wine tasting at the 24th Annual Harvest Wine Celebration over Labor Day weekend. With a trusty map in hand we planned the most efficient route for our Sunday sojourn. There were 24 participating wineries this year. For a $40 admission fee, you were good for Sunday and Monday. With this in mind we decided to try and visit 10 wineries the first day.

Patrons were plentiful, but not to the point of being too crowded, I thought as we made our first stop at Tenuta Vineyards. There we tasted barrel samples of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Feeling relaxed while sitting in the sun listening to live music, we talked about the expectations of the day. I’m sure we could have just sat there and enjoyed ourselves for hours, but being on the wine trail implies movement and it was way to early to get comfortable. Soon it was time to go we set off for the second winery on our list, Thomas Coyne Winery, which we
followed with Fenestra Winery.

Our stop at Mitchell Katz Winery at Ruby Hill was full of insight and delight. Wonderful live reggae music entertained the grass dwellers as we made our way inside the beautifully reconstructed Ruby Hill Winery. The original building was built in 1886 and burned down in 1989. We tasted white to red and by time we made it to the end of the tasting bar we had the pleasure of meeting Mitchell Katz himself. Gregarious in nature, he was happy to tell us about the history of the place as well as the wines he crafts. To our delight he opened a bottle of his 2002 Petite Sirah and his 2003 Sangiovese. Following up these two quality wines we finished our tasting with the 2002 Ruby Hill Zinfandel. With residual sugar at .75% and alcohol coming in at a whopping 16.5% this was a Zinfandel to be savored.

As always, we are discoverers looking for wine to not only add to our personal collection, but to review. Our first purchase was found at Livermore Valley Cellars. Aptly labeled Vino Rimanente “This, that, and the other thing” it is a non vintage blend of a hodgepodge of varietals. As they say “it doesn’t matter what’s in it as long as it taste good.” Well I have to agree in this case, so look for an upcoming review.

Livermore Grapes

As the day continued we enjoyed tasting wines at Concannon and Retzlaff. Feeling satisfied with our first day of tasting, we decided it was time to have dinner and plan our second day.

Day two again provided beautiful weather albeit a touch warmer. Our first stop was Eckert Estate Winery, where we enjoyed a very well made 2003 Semillon. Next stop was Stony Ridge Winery and the Crooked Vine Winery. Crooked Vine Winery is a higher-end wine that is a separate label from Stony Ridge. Our second purchase was found at Stony Ridge Winery – the 2002 Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Juan’s Blend, which is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Other notables were the Stony Ridge 2004 Chardonnay, the Crooked Vine 2004 Viognier and finally the Crooked Vine 2004 Zinfandel.

Next stop on the list was Murrieta’s Well. A beautiful place and one I already knew produces wonderful wines. Our first
tasting was the 2002 White Meritage, a delicious blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon. From there we moved to the 2001 Red Meritage, an outstanding wine consisting of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Petit Verdot, 8% Cab Franc and 5% Merlot. Rounding out our tasting was the 2003 Los Tesoros de Joaquin – 50% Semillon, 50% Chardonnay and the 2001 Zinfandel.


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