There’s a gorgeous corner of the Bay Area filled with vineyards, breweries and affordable hotels just 45 minutes from San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
It’s also the birthplace of most of the Chardonnay produced in the United States. In 1912, Ernest Wente convinced his father, C.H. Wente to import Chardonnay cuttings at their vineyard in Livermore, Calif. The result, after three decades of hard work, was the nation’s first varietally labeled Chardonnay, a 1936 vintage.
Wine Trail and Vineyards in Livermore
Today, you can base out of Livermore, Danville, Dublin or Pleasanton and visit Wente Vineyards, along with nearly 60 more wineries in the Livermore valley. Despite Wente’s claim to fame, you’ll find an easygoing, un-intimidating attitude in the valley’s laidback hills braided with green rows of grapes. Plus, it’s a short drive into San Francisco to see its iconic sites.
What sets the area apart from other wine regions of northern California is the friendly factor and affordable hotels, 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.
Get a Tri-Valley Beer Trail Pass
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 beer scene on the Tri-Valley Beer Trail, a curated collection of exclusive deals & discounts from the best breweries, alehouses & taprooms that you can tap into on Visit Tri-Valley’s beer trail page. The Tri-Valley Beer Trail has 18 stops, strung together across Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Danville.
Follow Tri-Valley's Ice Cream Trail
In addition to a wine and beer trail, the area also has an ice cream trail sprinkled with 13 locally-owned ice cream shops. Download your ice cream trail passport at https://visittrivalley.com/activities-and-things-to-do/ice-cream-2-3/ and hit five locations to receive a Tri-Valley ice cream scooper.
"Our summers are warm, so it's natural to have an ice cream trail with all the al fresco dining we have here," Fahr says.
Head to Meadowlark Dairy to get seven flavors of soft-serve ice cream swirled together. Located in historic downtown Pleasanton, Calif. at 57 W, Neal St., the longtime dairy has a drive-up (or walk-up) window, making getting ice cream easier than ever. In addition to ice cream, it sells butter, milk and cheese.
"People love it so much they'll wait in a line that goes down the street," Fahr says. "It's a picture-perfect place and the people who work there are down-home friendly."
Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery in Danville, Calif., bakes and frosts a daily specialty-flavored cupcake and 12 signature flavors of cupcakes every morning, in addition to serving small-batch ice cream inspired by its cupcake flavors.
Follow the Caffeine Trail
For those who are looking to really jumpstart their day, the Tri-Valley area has a ton of coffee shops, tea houses and cafes with amazingly crafted caffeine drinks. There are 18 participating on the valley's official caffeine trail that runs through Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Danville.
True caffeine aficionados can even get a free mug for their passion for caffeinated drinks. There are two ways to earn your mug. Visit four participating coffee shops on the Tri-Valley Caffeine Trail and take a picture of your beverage, snack, or even yourself. Four stops later, simply submit your photos here and the tourism office will send you a Tri-Valley Mug to use at home.
Swim or Boat at Del Valle Regional Park
And if you still want to cool down after enjoying your ice cream, 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.
Shop until You Drop
Forget some items for your road trip to Yosemite?
Swing by the San Francisco Premium Outlets in Livermore, Calif., to pick up gear, clothes, shoes and more. There's a Columbia outlet for those looking for outdoor clothing, including rain coats, wind layers, base layers and more. You'll also find brands like Nike and New Balance, along with the high-end fashion designers like Gucci and Prada.
If you couldn't get enough of the Ghiradelli Chocolate at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, head to the Ghiradelli Chocolate outlet store in this shopping center.
For more information:
5075 Hopyard Road, Suite 240, Pleasanton, CA 94588