Last month, I did an epic, 2-week road trip throughout the state of California. We started in Sonoma and drove down to San Diego, and we had the opportunity to explore a lot of hidden gems along the way! Before this trip, I had only visited California’s major cities, so it was a treat to go off the beaten path and explore new destinations.
When I was at the New York Times Travel Show back in January, I met one of the reps from the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association. After learning about the region at the Travel Show (and sampling some of their delicious wines!), I knew it had to be on my list. Did you know that Livermore Valley Wine Country is one of the oldest wine regions in California, and was one of the most prominent wine regions in the country before prohibition? Also, you can travel to this wine region from San Francisco via public transit (the BART). How cool is that?
Not to mention: the surrounding Tri-Valley region is a charming destination that’s perfect for foodies as well. If you want an elevated, yet approachable wine tasting experience in the Bay Area, here’s why the Livermore Valley should be on your radar.
Livermore Valley Wine Country Travel Guide: How to Get There & Getting Around
If you’re flying into the region, the closest airports are Oakland International (OAK), San Francisco International (SFO) and San Jose International (SJC). It is approximately 30 miles east of San Francisco, and 18 miles southeast of Oakland. As I previously mentioned, one of my favorite aspects of this particular wine region is that it is accessible via public transit.
If you’re traveling without a car, you can take the BART to either the West Dublin/Pleasanton or East Dublin/Pleasanton stations, and take a quick Uber/Lyft or bike to the wineries of your choice.
While it is possible to get around without a car, if you choose to drive to the Tri-Valley area, parking is free and pretty easy. There are a lot of sights to see, so it might be best to zip around in your own vehicle!
Livermore – Tri-Valley Travel Guide: Where to Stay
We stayed at the brand new Aloft Hotel in Dublin, California during our time in the Tri-Valley and loved every minute of our experience! I’m a big fan of the Aloft Hotels brand: it’s young, hip, and perfect for any adventurer.
I was delighted with the customer service at this particular location (big shoutout for being so accommodating with packages!) I also loved some of the modern features of the hotel as well: they had a robot room service, and an Amazon Echo in the room, so you could ask Alexa to fulfill any of your hotel needs. Pretty cool, huh?
As far as the amenities: it has a pool, complimentary wifi, an incredible gym, and is also pet-friendly! I also love the grab and go breakfast at the Aloft — it was ideal for a group on the go.
Livermore Valley Wine Country Travel Guide: Best Wineries to Visit
The most iconic winery in Livermore has to be Wente Vineyards, which claims to be “the oldest continuously operating, family-owned winery in the United States.” While I think it’s definitely worth the visit, my goal with travel guides is to open you up to unexpected, hidden gems. Here are three wineries that are producing exquisite wines that I think should be on your radar:
- Longevity Wines: I can count on one hand how many times I’ve visited a black-owned winery in the U.S., so it was an absolute treat to visit Longevity Wines and meet acclaimed winemaker, Phil Long. They’re the third-largest minority-owned winery in the country and have big plans to expand production in the future.
Phil began his wine journey by making wines in his garage with his late wife, and they currently produce 2000-3000 cases a year. My personal favorite was the Philosophy, which is a Bordeaux-style blend.
- Fenestra Winery: Fenestra was one of the highlights of my entire California road trip. It’s a historic winery built in 1889, and it is Livermore Valley’s first family-owned boutique winery.
We were impressed with the wide variety of wines that Fenestra had to offer. The wines were elegant, high-quality, and a fantastic price point. Plus, the ambiance was incredible. Fenestra is a must-visit if you’re in Livermore!
- Rodrigue Molyneaux: This was probably the most picturesque and unique boutique winery we visited during our trip! Rodrigue Molyneaux is a family-owned winery that was established in the 90s. They apply sustainable farming practices to preserve the farmland for generations to come. I loved that they offered Italian and French varietals, and I found their blends to be exquisite!
Livermore – Tri-Valley Travel Guide: Where to Eat
- Brunch at Sideboard. Sideboard is a laid-back, quirky spot located in the heart of Danville. It’s a local favorite, and it had an electrifying ambiance for weekend brunch!
They offer a wide variety of items, but some of my favorite items on their menu include the beignets and veggie scramble. Also, their coffee and espresso drinks are next level!
- Lunch at Posada. Posada is a family-owned restaurant that serves incredible Southwestern cuisine. This might have been my favorite meal during our visit — I loved the bold flavors and the innovative dishes that they had to offer!
- Dinner at Sabio on Main and Garré Cafe. Located in Downtown Pleasanton, Sabio on Main offers a tapas-style dining experience. They recently earned the Eat Real certification, and sustainable farm to fork fare is Chef Francis Hogan’s specialty. We loved how fresh all of the dishes tasted, and their clever use of seasonal ingredients.
Garré Cafe is located at the acclaimed Garré Vineyard & Winery, and they offer Mediterranean-inspired California cuisine, with a gorgeous view! We really enjoyed our experience here. However, a quick heads up: the service is a bit on the slower side.
- Explore the Tri-Valley Ice Cream Trail. Tri-Valley has it’s very own ice cream trail, and if you have a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss it! Our favorite stop on the trail was Meadowlark Dairy. It’s one of the last drive-through dairies in existence, and we thought it was very charming. I opted for the classic strawberry ice cream. However, they regularly release specialty flavors.
Livermore Valley Wine Country Travel Guide: Things to Do
- Stroll through Sycamore Grove Park. We stopped by Sycamore Grove Park in between winery visits, and we were blown away. I thought it was breathtaking and very well maintained! It’s a great place to take a short hike (it’s relatively flat, and not super intimidating), or gather friends for a picnic. They even have equestrian trails here as well!
- Go shopping in Downtown Danville. I thought Downtown Danville was one of the most charming little towns I’ve ever visited — and the shopping was next level! Start at the Village Theatre and roam around: you’re bound to find a boutique that speaks to you! My personal favorite was Flaunt Boutique; they have a very chic, curated selection of fashion and home finds.
What about you? Have you ever visited the Livermore Valley Wine Country Area? Let me know in a comment below!
Photos by Tom McGovern