Tri-Valley's Grape Scene

By Staff,
Retzlaff Vineyards in Livermore, Calif.

Discover a down-to-earth wine tasting scene and sun you can count on less than an hour from San Francisco.

While Chardonnay is the most popular wine in the United States, few know most of the Chardonnay produced in the United States can trace its lineage not to a fancy vineyard in Sonoma or Napa but to Wente Vineyards in Livermore, Calif. It was at Wente in 1912 that Ernest Wente convinced his father, C.H. Wente to import Chardonnay cuttings. The result, after three decades of hard work, was the nation’s first varietally labeled Chardonnay, a 1936 vintage.

Wente Vineyards in Livermore, Calif.

Today, you can visit Wente Vineyards, along with 50 wineries in the Tri-Valley area just 45 minutes from San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Despite Wente’s claim to fame, you’re not going to find any hoity attitude in the valley’s laidback hills braided with green rows of grapes. What sets the area apart from other wine regions of northern California is the friendly factor, says Robin Fahr, marketing and communications director of Visit Tri-Valley. The winemakers agree.

“I get told every day by a non-human how I’m doing in life and that can keep you pretty humble,” fifth-generation winemaker Karl D. Wente likes to say.

Yet, long before vineyards scaled the hills and before Prohibition, the area was one of the nation’s largest producers of hops. Today, craft breweries are sprouting up. Explore the region and its breweries on the Blue Brew Bus with a Tri-Valley Beer Trail passport that you can download online at The Tri-Valley Beer Trail has 22 stops, strung together across Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Danville.

Danville Brewing Company

And if drinking all this liquid gold has you dreaming of swimming in it, head 10 miles south of Livermore to Del Valle (pronounced by locals as “Dell Val”) Regional Park to cool off. Amid oak-covered golden hills and the five-mile-long lake, relax at a swimming beach, rent a pedal boat, canoe or motorboat or spend the night in a campground.

For more information:
(888) 874-9253
5075 Hopyard Road, Suite 240, Pleasanton, CA 94588