Archive for February, 2011

Spring is an ideal time to visit the Tri-Valley. The air is crisp, hills are green, and mustard brightly clusters between the rolling grape vines. Extend your visit for the entire weekend during the Livermore Winegrowers Association’s third annual Barrel Tasting Weekend, March 19 & 20, 2011.
More than 30 Livermore Valley wineries are scheduled to participate,  offering samples of wines still in development—direct from their barrels. Guests with special event wristbands and official glasses will receive at least one barrel sample at each participating winery. Most winemakers will be present to personally pour and discuss their young wines and offer delicious pairings with gourmet appetizers, artisan cheeses, chocolate and nuts.

Advance tickets are available online now for $30. Tickets purchased at the event will be $35 per person. Each ticket includes a souvenir tasting glass featuring the Livermore Valley Wine Country logo, two days of barrel tasting at participating wineries, special activities and discounts and an event map.

Livermore Winegrowers Association's 3rd Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend, March 19 & 20, 2011

Livermore Winegrowers Association's 3rd Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend, March 19 & 20, 2011.

Each winery will offer a unique experience to Barrel Tasting Weekend guests. Many will give discounts on wine purchases to ticket holders only. Examples of special events and wines to be tasted include

  • Big White House & John Evan Cellars: tasting of 2009 Sangiovese, 2009 Roussanne, 2009 Lapsus and 2006-2010 Syrah vertical. Bottle your own wine for $99 per case.
  • Cedar Mountain Winery: barrel samples of 2009 Zinfandel to be paired with Bissenger Raspberry Creams. Complimentary premium tasting. Bottle your own olive oil (bring your own bottle).
  • Eckert Estate Winery– tasting 2008 Malbec and 2009 Carignane. “Ensemble,” a hands-on workshop for creating balanced blends 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. each day. Wines paired with cheese fondue and ‘sipping chocolate’. 10% off purchases of single bottles and 25% off on cases.
  • McGrail Vineyards & Winery– tasting Casa de Vinas Petite Sirah and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. Seguin Moreau Barrel Cooperage will give a barrel talk and demonstration. 25% off all wine purchases.
  • The Steven Kent Winery & La Rochelle Winery: tasting La Rochelle 2009 Pinot Meunier on Saturday and Steven Kent 2008 Ghielmetti Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon on Sunday. 20% off purchase of 6 bottles or more.

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The Steven Kent Winery is quickly making a name for itself and setting the standard for quality Cabernet Sauvignon from Livermore. The wines are garnering acclaim from industry experts and tasting room visitors alike.

Recently, Wine Enthusiast Magazine rated several Steven Kent wines. Not surprisingly, these wines earned words of praise from the experts. Wine Enthusiast wine ratings are based on tastings by the magazine’s editors and other qualified tasting panelists, either individually or in a group setting. Tastings are conducted blind or in accordance with accepted industry practices.

The Steven Kent Winery tasting room is open daily from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Here’s what the experts at Wine Enthusiast had to say:

Steven Kent 2007 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley

93 points. This is a beautiful, intricate and appealing Cabernet to drink with upscale fare, like a very fine steak. It’s bone dry, but very rich and sweet in blackberry, cherry and currant fruit, and there’s a nice cut of acidity for balance. Steven Kent is producing today’s greatest Livermore Cabernets, wines that hearken back to the valley’s roots as one of California’s best wine regions. Drink now–2013.

Steven Kent 2007 Ghielmetti Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley

93 points. Give this Cabernet some time in the cellar. Right now, it’s a little tough in acids and tannins, although the blackberry, cherry, black currant and smoky oak flavors are rich and fine and enjoyable now. But it should soften and be even more approachable after 2013.

Steven Kent 2007 Smith Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley

91 points. This is a lovely wine to drink now. It’s so dry and elegantly constructed, with wonderfully ripe tannins and great integration of oak with the fruit. There’s a nice balance of acidity to balance the blackberry, cherry and cola flavors. Drink now, with a brief decant.

Two more Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignons also received high ratings with Wine Enthusiast. The popularity of these wines with consumers is evident, as these are sold out.

Steven Kent 2007 Ghielmetti Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley

Steven Kent 2007 Home Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley

Wine Enthusiast ratings are based on tastings by the magazine’s editors and other qualified tasting panelists, either individually or in a group setting. Tastings are conducted blind or in accordance with accepted industry practices.

Wine Enthusiast Scores:

  • 95-100 — Superb. One of the greats.
  • 90-94 — Excellent. Extremely well made and highly recommended.
  • 85-89 — Very good. May offer outstanding value if the price is right.
  • 80-84 — Good. Solid wine, suitable for everyday consumption.

Visitors can enjoy a seated tasting experience at The Steven Kent Winery, complete with artisan cheese.

Visitors to Steven Kent can expect a knowledgeable, friendly tasting room staff that will guide you through the tasting flight options. Visitors can choose between the Barrel Room Flight and Reserve Flight. There is also a special table tasting flight that is accompanied with hand-selected artisan cheeses. During the warmer months, tastings can also be done on the patio with views of the surrounding vineyard.

Steven Kent Winery is open daily from noon to 4:30 pm.

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Livermore Valley Wine Country boasts 50+ wineries

Puerto Vallarta or the fishing village next door – Salyulita? Santa Barbara or the lesser-known sands down the 101 in Ventura? In this sober vacation economy, an important trend involves bypassing “the destination” and turning instead to “the destination next door”. Enter Napa Valley’s destination next door – the Livermore Valley Wine Country. Approximately one-hour driving distance from the three major San Francisco Bay Area airports, located in California’s Tri-Valley region, this wine country is stunning, affordable and boasts 50+ wineries. When off the wine trail, three historic, charming downtowns offer excellent shopping and dining, perfect for a memorable romantic Valentine’s Day retreat that doesn’t break the bank.

Chocolate, Wine and Love

Concannon Vineyard has produced distinctive estate-grown Livermore Valley wines for more than a century. Well-known for delicious Bordeaux-style wines and America’s first Petite Sirah, the historic, recently restored redwood winery is a perennial favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Concannon's grounds offer a deligthful spot for a romantic picnic

Visit the Concannon tasting room during Valentine’s Day weekend for a special tasting flight, smartly paired with decadent gourmet chocolate. Enjoy the signature tasting flight of seven Concannon wines regularly offered in addition to the newly-released Petite Sirah Port, 2007 and Late Harvest Semillon- Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 The tasting room is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This is not a ticketed event. For more information, visit http://www.concannonvineyard.com/

Wente Vineyards is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery. Today, the winery maintains its leadership role in California winegrowing under ownership and management by the Fourth and Fifth Generations of the Wente family. Blending traditional and innovative winemaking practices, the winery draws from approximately 3,000 acres of sustainably farmed Estate vineyards to create an outstanding portfolio of fine wines.

Enjoy a special romantic dessert and wine pairing experience at the historic Winery. Indulge in five chocolate and wine pairings carefully prepared and selected by Wente Vineyards. Learn how chocolate and wine can combine and create a romantic and sensual experience!  For tickets and more information, visit https://shop.wentevineyards.com/SHOP.AMS?LEVEL=BOT&PART=8209.

San Francisco Bay Area Limousines can help take the stress out of planning your Livermore Valley Wine Country Valentine’s Day tour. Mention the Tri-Valley CVB Valentine’s Day guest special and receive 20% off tour rates. Relax knowing the driving is left to the professionals and take in the beauty of the rolling hills and sprawling vines of the Livermore Valley Wine Country.  Conditions apply: Limousine and Sedan Rentals 3 hour minimum booking, Shuttle buses 4 hour minimum booking, Limousine Buses 5 hour minimum booking. For more information about the rates and to book your romantic wine country tour, call 866-536-6866

Niles Canyon Railway, is a throwback to the days of the railroad’s peak in popularity. Enjoy a nostalgic train ride and wine tasting in elegant, fully-restored 1940s rail cars for a Valentine’s Day experience not to be missed. As you travel through scenic Niles Canyon on a vintage train from Sunol to Niles and back. Enroute you’ll be served six specially-selected wines from the Livermore Valley, paired with hors d’oeuvres. For more information: http://www.ncry.org/pdf/valentine.pdf and To purchase tickets: http://www.localwineevents.com/events/detail/344652

Dance the evening away with the “Green beans Band” and enjoy a romantic evening at Red Feather Winery at the annual Sweetheart Dance.  Let Red Feather spoil you all night long with a decadent, gourmet meal and paired Red Feather wines. Space is limited and the event is expected to sell out. Tickets are $100 per couple For more information, visit: redfeatherwinery.com or to purchase tickets, call 925-449-1871, or e-mail connie@redfeatherwinery.com

Catch the Cabaret at The Firehouse Arts Center

Romantic Music and Couples Cooking Classes

The Firehouse Arts Center, a recently-opened performing arts center constructed from the historic original first firehouse in downtown Pleasanton, will host recording artist Wesla Whitfield in a Valentine eve show, Isn’t It Romantic? on Sunday, February 13, 2011 for a one-time-only 2:00 p.m. matinee.

Whitfield will sing her repertoire from the Great American Songbook, which include selections from her recordings on the HighNote Records label by composers Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hart, and more.  With awards and accolades that have followed her from New York to Washington, D.C. to Seattle, Wash., Whitfield has been called “The Best Cabaret Singer in the World”.

Tickets are Adult-$15, $20 and $25; Child-$15 and Senior-$22. They may be purchased online at www.firehousearts.org up to three hours prior to the performance, by phone at (925) 931-4848, or in person at the Firehouse Arts Center Box Office.

Pans on Fire, a gourmet cookware retail store, located in historic downtown Pleasanton will offer special hands on Valentine’s Day culinary experiences. Tickets and more information about any Pans on Fire classes

Dinner & a Movie: Chocolat, Saturday, February 12 at 5 p.m.  The perfect evening for the chocolate lover! Learn to prepare a chocolate-themed dinner paired with complimenting chocolate-friendly wines. After the recipes are prepared, settle in and enjoy your delicious meal with the feature film.

Valentine’s Day Brunch, Sunday, February 13 at 11 a.m. Treat your sweetheart to the ultimate Valentine’s Day brunch with a twist. Join Pans on Fire in their kitchen for a guided cooking session with brunch favorites like a French omelet, decadent pastries and scrumptious side dishes accompanied by sinful hot chocolate and champagne cocktail.

Snuggle in with your sweetie at one of the 38 hotels in Tri-Valley

Snuggle in With Your Sweetie for the Night

The Doubletree Hotel Livermore, in the heart of Livermore Wine Country, is offering an exclusive Sweet Romance Getaway package for Valentine’s Day starting at $115 per night.  Sweet Romance Getaway includes: Deluxe Accommodations – relaxation and indulgence for two, Sparkling wine – in-room on arrival*, Full breakfast – in-room (where applicable) or in the hotel restaurant. Come early, stay late – simply request early check-in or late check-out (based on availability)

The Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Livermore Wine Country, offers The Romantic California Wine Country Getaway Package which includes: one night stay in a King or Double Queen studio suite, 1 bottle of fine Livermore Valley wine, Complimentary appetizer at Zephyr Grill & Bar in Downtown Livermore, Downtown Guest Pass with discounts at participating businesses, Wine tasting card for complimentary or discounted wine tastings at Livermore Valley wineries, Complimentary full hot buffet breakfast and access to the indoor whirlpool, outdoor heated pool, and full cardiovascular fitness center. $115 (Friday or Saturday) or $145 (Sunday-Thursday) +tax

The Hilton Pleasanton at The Club Valentines Day Package includes Four course dinner for two in Player’s Restaurant,  One night guestroom accommodations, Special in-room amenities, Full American breakfast for two starting at $149

For More Valentines Day Activities and Specials visit our website. And our friends at  Diablo Magazine’s February issue offers some great ideas for spending you Valentines Day in Tri-Valley!

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