Archive for April, 2008

Red Skye Winery

Red Skye Winery

Mark and Betty Christopulos, operators of Red Skye, have been making wine for 10 years prior to the start up of the winery. Mark states “the winery started partly because of coaxing by friends and family”. Apart from full time employment and winemaking, the couple is raising three children.

The passion has got to be there, and this passion is strong…

His passion started with the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, and most of his earlier years focused on the varietal. He says that “his passion is now shifting towards a Livermore favorite, the Petite Sirah”.

Mark enjoys working with his hands and being rewarded for his hard work. That hard work shows in his wine, or as he states “art in a bottle”. The combination of science, art, and creativity drive him to produce extraordinary wines.

Most known for their Sunset Red, Red Skye blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. With the Merlot softening the palate, and the Cab Franc providing color and structure, it’s easy to taste why this wine won the Gold in Orange County.

One of my favorites is the unoaked Larson vineyard Chardonnay. Fruit forward with pear and pineapple, this wine is refreshing and soft. The oaked version of this wine shows vanilla, spice, and creaminess.

Other wines include a jammy, juicy 2004 Livermore Zinfandel; a 2004 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon that highlights the terroir it came from; and a balanced 2004 Central Coast Syrah with a lot of good fruit, and a hint of tobacco. Current total production is 1000 cases per year.

A month or so ago, the Christopulos’ entertained wine enthusiasts with a fun Mediterranean food and wine pairing at their tasting room. The Red Skye Winery tasting room is located at Blacksmith square in downtown Livermore. Stop by during the weekend and sample some of Red Skye’s offerings. Red Skye wines are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, or the next great sunset!

Hours are Friday 3-6, Saturday 2-6, and Sunday 2-5. 21 S. Livermore Avenue Livermore Ca 94550 www.redskyewine.com


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The Re-Invention of the Livermore Valley

As a kid, I viewed the Livermore Valley as nothing more than a set of small cowboy towns. As I grew up, I had no concept of what a winery was. I didn’t even know that there were wineries in the Livermore valley. Little did I know, Livermore’s the oldest wine region in the state.

Pre-prohibition times had seen this beautiful valley flourishing with over 100 wineries. Stories suggest that when prohibition came, all but two wineries ceased operations. These two wineries, Wente and Concannon, were allowed to continue wine production for religious purposes.

Now the two largest wineries in the valley, the Wente’s and Concannon’s provide beautiful wines and ambiance in this valley.

Concannon (now owned and operated by The Wine Group) has just completed a new winery facility. This grand building sits on Tesla Road behind the infamous old white Victorian house at the bend in the road. This beautiful structure compliments the older winery building that now flanks the east side of the new facility.

Wente has two locations. The estate winery and tasting room sit on Tesla Road in the heart of the valley. The other location is at the end of Arroyo Road, in the southern part of the valley. This stunning location has a golf course, restaurant, and grounds for weddings and concerts. The golf is world class, the dining experience exceptional, and a location that draws people from all over the world.

Outside of Wente and Concannon, the valley is host to over 40 wineries in all. From Rhone and Bordeaux varietals to sparking wines, one is surely to find an artisan boutique winery in this valley that they love. And I mean love. The tasting rooms are friendly and inviting, and you most likely run into a winemaker or two as your sipping their creations. I hear the statement “The Local’s Napa” floating around the tasting room more and more frequently.

One doesn’t need to imagine what was seen by the Wente Brothers and James Concannon as they settled into this valley. Driving east on Tesla Road, you start to get a pretty good idea of what they saw. But seeing is only half the equation.

One must feel the Livermore Valley. 

The grapes grow good here for a couple good reasons. One reason is the soil structure. The rocky soil, like that of a river bottom, allows the vine roots to dig deep and find essential trace elements, nutrients, and water. This ultimately provides for a better balanced grape. Another major reason is that the long, warm summer days are coupled with a cooling bay influenced breeze in the evenings.

The grapes love to live here, because it feels good here.

Maybe it’s the beginning of the spring and the grapes are budding. Or maybe it’s the middle of fall and the fog and smell of fermenting wine fills the valley floor.

Whenever I am looking at pictures of the grandest wine regions of the world, I can see the similarities in the Livermore Valley. But a picture can never provide the feel of the region. It can only provide the view.

Come out to Livermore Valley, “The Local’s Napa”, and feel what I’m talking about.




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