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Several Livermore Valley wineries celebrated the opening of the Drought Resistant Garden Trail with a sign installation and toast at Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery on April 12. Developed in cooperation with the Alameda County Master Gardeners, the initial phase of the new trail includes the first of many local winery and event center gardens to feature native, drought resistant plantings.

Livermore Valley wineries at the grand opening of a drought resistant garden trail.

Lisa Meier of Las Positas Vineyards, Jim Ryan of Concannon Vineyard, Linda Ault of Cedar Mountain Winery, Chris Chandler of Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, Nancy Rodrigue of Rodrigue Molyneaux, Glenn Matthews of Wente Vineyards and Shari Wentz of Alameda County Master Gardeners.

The gardens are open to the public and are a great way to experience Earth Day in Tri-Valley. Participating wineries include:

Cedar Mountain Winery: A wide perennial garden flanks both sides of the barrel room. The garden is filled with roses; especially captivating is the climbing rose Altissimo. Hardy penstemon and sages also fill the beds.

Concannon Vineyard: Playful topiary is the obvious theme of these gardens, where even mature Fruitless Mulberry trees are trained into arches and orbs. Drought resistant New Zealand flaxes, purple hopseed and daylilies are scattered among the olive trees. Concannon was one of the first wineries in Livermore Valley to use roses as detectors of molds and mildew in the vineyard.

Las Positas Vineyards: Many drought resistant grasses, including California fescue and Mexican feather grass are planted in this extensive landscape that also features Teucrium chamaedrtys (germander).

Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery: Avid gardener and winery owner Nancy Rodrigue is challenged by lack of sun in her landscape that features many garden “rooms.” With the advice of master gardeners, she has replaced ground covers with ceanothus and native deer grass. A border that runs along an outdoor seating area has been replanted with honey bush mahonia and various colored leafed heuchera that add color.

Wente Vineyards Estate Winery: A former parking lot at Wente’s Tesla Road location is now planted with hardy trees, shrubs and perennials that welcome guests to picnic. Outside the winery, white oleander and olive trees under planted with rosemary, lavender and agastache repeat in drifts along Tesla Road. Coffeeberry and heleanthemum are highlights of a corner garden in this lush space that features native and drought resistant plants.

Martinelli Event Center: Property given to the Master Gardener Program by the county in 2000 now blooms as an example of beautiful landscaping in a dry summer garden. The University of California Alameda County Master Gardeners Livermore Demonstration Garden is divided into six areas: an oak garden, a flower garden, a dry creek bed garden, a garden that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, a wind garden and example of gardening on a berm.

Livermore Valley's winery garden trail.

Livermore Valley's winery garden trail.

Several other Livermore Valley wineries are actively working with the Master Gardener Shari Wentz to design and plant drought resistant gardens that will be included in future phases of the wine country trail.

“Although the program is still in the beginning stages, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association and Alameda County Master Gardeners are excited about this cooperative effort and its potential,” said Wentz.

All of the gardens on the Drought Resistant Garden Trail are open to the public and the Master Gardeners Livermore Demonstration Garden hosts monthly classes. The Master Gardener program is part of Cooperative Extension, the outreach arm of the University of California through its Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who provide residents of Alameda County with information to help them garden in schools, backyards, nursing homes and other locations. Inspired by Earth Day on April 22, wineries around the state of California are celebrating ”Down to Earth Month” with hands-on workshops, eco-tours, green-themed events, special offers and tastings of eco-friendly wines. Explore “Down to Earth” events at and plan a visit just as California vineyards are coming alive with spring.

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Livermore Valley's winter tradition, Holidays in the Vineyards is December 3-4, 2011.

Take a couple days to get away for some holiday fun during the hustle and bustle of the season! Tri-Valley has a season full of events to treat yourself to during the holidays.

Celebrate the season at Livermore Valley’s annual wine country tradition, Holidays in the Vineyards. This admission-free event is December 3 and 4 from noon to 5 pm. More than 40 wineries will feature special tastings, food pairings and events. Local artisans will be at several wineries offering a wide variety of gifts for holiday giving, including chocolates, honey, jewelry, soaps, garden ornaments, knitwear, stationery, aprons, pet accessories and candles.

Santa Claus will make an appearance at Crooked Vine/Stony Ridge Winery, Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery, White Crane Winery, Cuda Ridge Wines, Longevity Wines, McGrail Vineyards & Winery, Mitchell Katz Winery, Tamas Estates and Wente Vineyards.

Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association hosts this holiday favorite. Check out the organization’s website for a full list of participating wineries, special wines, discounts, activities and vendors.

Cuda Ridge Wines is just one of more than 40 wineries featured in this year's Holiday's in the Vineyards.

Make Holidays in the Vineyards a true wine country weekend escape! Take advantage of the Winter Weekend Getaway, offering a $50 Visa card for a weekend stay at many Tri-Valley hotels. It’s the perfect excuse to pick up an extra bottle of your favorite Livermore Valley wine, dine at one of the Tri-Valley’s heralded restaurants, or pick up the perfect gift for a loved one at a downtown boutique.

Check out or list of perfect places to stay for your Tri-Valley Winter Weekend Getaway!

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Have you ever wondered what exactly happens during harvest in wine country? How do those grapes get from vine to barrel to bottle to your glass? Livermore Valley’s Wente Vineyards will answer those questions and more during an exclusive Harvest Tour & Tasting on October 1, 2011.

Wente Vineyards offers a unique experience touring and tasting during harvest 2011.

This intimate experience will provide the public a rare glimpse into the harvest and production of Wente Vineyard’s world-class small lot wines. Sample current vintages and select wines aged to perfection from the winery’s library.

The Harvest Tour & Tasting is offered exclusively on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 10 am, noon, 2 pm and 4 pm. Space is limited and reservations are required.  Tickets are $15 plus tax for Nth Degree and Wine Club members, and $20 plus tax for guests and are available online.

Tours will take place at Wente Vineyards Estate Winery and Tasting Room, located at 5565 Tesla Road Livermore, CA 94550.

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Looking for a great way to kick off a wine tasting trip in Livermore Valley Wine Country or just celebrate the return of warm, sunny weekends? Get your weekend started right with a hearty brunch. Several restaurants in Tri-Valley welcome the early crowd with tempting brunches not to be missed! Here are some of our picks:

 Best Gathering Spot: Laurus Bistro

With floor to ceiling windows looking over the lagoon in Blackhawk Plaza, Laurus Bistro is the perfect spot to rally the crew and kick off a day of shopping and socializing. A local favorite for dinner, Laurus started offering brunch in April 2011 and has received rave reviews. Top picks from the menu include the Bistro Benedict with avocado and the Brioche French Toast & Brown Sugar Bacon. Indulge in inventive drinks like sauced coffees, brunch bubbles, or The Weekend Warrior—trouble in a pint glass with bourbon, spiced rum and Grand Marnier.

Laurus serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

Tip: “Like” Laurus on Facebook and receive complimentary bottomless mimosas. This offer is only valid on Saturday, April 23, 2011.

Just a sample of the new brunch menu at Laurus Cafe.


Best Twist on the Brunch Routine: Campo di Bocce

Campo di Bocce is always a great place to hang out, but the new Bocce Brunch makes it even more tempting. Offered during bocce tournaments, this brunch allows diners to watch players in action. Or, reserve a court and play yourself. Indulge in a huge spread including a carving station, seafood display, omelette station, salads and traditional breakfast favorites. Just a few of the highlights include the smoked salmon, waffles and the chef’s choice pasta. Be sure to save room for dessert. The flourless chocolate cake and tiramisu are always a hit.

Campo di Bocce’s Bocce Brunch is offered every Sunday from 10 am- 2 pm for $29.95 for adults, with unlimited cocktails included, $24.95 without cocktails and $14.95 for children.  Reservations are recommended, but not required.

Best Morning View: The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards

Wente Vineyards is always beautiful, but it’s exceptionally serene in the morning hours. With dramatic views of The Course at Wente and tucked in the south Livermore hills, the vista may just rival the standout brunch at The Restaurant at Wente. Wente’s inventive menu is a product of close collaboration between the Executive Chef, Master Gardener and Pastry Chef. The end result is tempting dishes like citrus French Toast, Smoke Double-cut Pork Chop and Chamomile Crème Brulee Tart. While you’re there, make sure to enjoy a glass of Wente Vineyards sparkling wine.

Brunch at The Restaurant at Wente is offered every Sunday from 10:30am -2:30 pm.

The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards offers one of the best Tri-Valley views.

Best place to people watch: Nonni’s Bistro

Part of the charm of Nonni’s Bistro  is in its location in historic downtown Pleasanton. This cute Mediterranean-style café opened in fall 2010 and offers outdoor dining along tree-lined Main Street. This is the perfect brunch option for people watching on the weekend. With the weekly farmers market  and shoppers browsing boutiques, there is always something to see. Top picks from the menu include the jazzed up French Toast topped with fresh tropical fruit, and mango and raspberry sauces or Spanish Omelette with chorizo and peppers. Reservations are recommended.

Best Value:  The Basil Leaf Café, Danville

If you’re looking to stretch your dollar without sacrificing quality, The Basil Leaf Café in Danville, fits the bill. For less than $20 per person, the restaurant offers a beautiful buffet of traditional brunch fare and bottomless mimosas. Made-to-order omelettes, house made pizza and eggs benedict are favorites. The cozy restaurant is always busy for brunch and reservations are recommended.

Kick off a day of wine tasting with the sparkling brunch at Underdog Wine Bar, starting Sunday, May 1, 2011.

Kick off a day of wine tasting with the sparkling brunch at Underdog Wine Bar, starting Sunday, May 1, 2011.

Best Trendy Spot: Underdog Wine Bar

Underdog Wine Bar, located on the grounds of Concannon Vineyard, the latest addition to the Tri-Valley brunch scene, set to unveil its new Sparkling Brunch. The wine bar, known for inventive flights and tapas is trying its own spin on brunch with a menu that includes a frittata, strata and fresh pastries. Enjoy the morning sun on the patio and then head over to the nearby tasting room to sample Concannon Vineyard’s latest releases.

Brunch will be served each Sunday from 10 am- noon starting Sunday, May 1, 2011.

 

 

 

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Wente Vineyards invites guests to an admission-free Earth Day Celebration from 1-5 pm on Sunday, April 17, 2011. Enjoy a full day of great food, wine, tours and entertainment.

Tour the recently re-awarded Audubon Sanctuary at The Course at Wente.

The celebration will provide visitors a time to reflect on promoting respect for life and encourage awareness for air, water and soil pollution. Wente Vineyards is excited to mark Earth Day by highlighting their ongoing sustainability efforts and green initiatives.

Get a look behind the scenes at Wente’s green efforts with complimentary tours of the property with an on-site garden tour at 2, 3 and 4pm, led by Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk. Or tour the recently re-awarded Audubon Sanctuary at The Course at Wente Vineyards at 2, 3 and 4pm.

There will also be entertainment throughout the day with performances from local musicians.

Make Earth Day at Wente Vineyards a family affair. Several hands-on activities for kids, including a place for kids to craft jewelry from recycled products and a worm composting station, will provide a fun learning environment.

Enjoy a special Earth Day three-course menu at The Restaurant at Wente.

Wente Vineyards will feature presentations detailing sustainability at 1:30 and 3:30pm.

Earth Day at Wente Vineyards is an admission-free event, but food & wine is available for purchase. Stroll through the beautiful grounds and enjoy dishes available through purchase from Catering with Wente Vineyards.

The award-winning Restaurant at Wente Vineyards will offer a special three-course menu featuring ingredients sourced from the property’s organic garden, priced at $42.

Purchase tickets to taste six wines, two from Wente Vineyards, Tamas Estates and Murrieta’s Well. Tickets are $15 per person and $10 for Wente Vineyards, Murrieta’s Well and Tamas Estates Club Members and can be purchased at the event.

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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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Taste of Tri-Valley Restaurant Week, January 23-30, 2011

 

Campo di Bocce offers an exlusive prix fixe during Taste of Tri-Valley.

Campo di Bocce in Livermore offers an exlusive prix fixe during Taste of Tri-Valley.

Restaurants throughout the region are gearing up for the first-ever Taste of Tri-Valley Restaurant Week, happening January 23-30, 2011 as part of California Restaurant Month, as designated by the California Travel & Tourism Commission.

The finest, most renowned chefs and restaurants in the Tri-Valley will showcase their culinary styles and signature dishes for diners. The event features an array of well-known restaurants, casual dining establishments and local purveyors that will provide one of a kind dining experiences offered during this week only. Visitors can also experience the bounty of Tri-Valley by visiting Livermore Valley wineries, farmers markets and local farms.

Cafe Garre has a menu full of tempting entrees perfectly paired with Garre wine.

Food lovers can indulge in a prix fixe meal, specialty dish or special offer at the more than 25 participating restaurants. Many participating restaurants have Livermore wine available that pairs perfectly. No tickets or passes are required for Taste of Tri-Valley Restaurant Week. Diners simply dine out at as many participating restaurants as they like all week.

All the details are available on the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau website. Be sure to check out the complete list of participating restaurants and offers. This is a great opportunity to try a new restaurant or revisit an old favorite. The challenge might just be choosing which restaurants to visit!

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