Wine Industry Enhances Tri-Valley Quality of Life

The Livermore Valley wine region has a rich history. It was California's primary grape-growing area before the National Prohibition Act was passed in 1919. Before the law banned the production and sales of alcoholic beverages across the United States, between 60 and 70 wineries in Livermore Valley produced a variety of prized wines. Nearly 2,500 American wineries existed prior to Prohibition. When Prohibition ended in December 1933, fewer than 100 wineries remained nationwide.

Viticulture Vital to Region

After Prohibition, challenges continued for the industry and the nation thanks to the Great Depression, which started in 1929 and ended in 1939. Despite the struggles they faced, Livermore Valley vintners never gave up and continued to innovate. In 1936, for example, Wente Vineyards produced the first ever varietally labeled Chardonnay, which made Livermore Valley the first region in the US to label and market varietal wines.

Today, the Livermore Valley wine industry contributes to the nationally recognized quality of life in the Tri-Valley. The beauty of its vineyards, the employment it provides, and its impact on the local economy all contribute to the quality and vitality of Tri-Valley communities. The importance of Livermore Valley wineries may not be visible to residents outside of the industry, but their impact is significant. The wine region draws an estimated 1.5 million visitors to the Tri-Valley annually.

"The Livermore Valley Wine Country is very important to our region's tourism, not only because it's the oldest wine country in California but also because of the people," says Robin Fahr, Vice President of Marketing for Visit Tri-Valley. "The winemakers and families who greet our visitors when they come through the doors make for the best wine-tasting experience you can possibly have. The people here are kind, approachable, and unpretentious. The cost of a tasting is reasonable, and the whole experience is reminiscent of the way wine tasting used to be. It is so easy to attract visitors to the Tri-Valley because of Livermore Valley wine country. And, once here, they stay for all that there is to do, from our adorable downtowns to our great outdoors to our shopping opportunities to our vibrant arts culture."

Adapting for the Future

Last year, the regional winegrowers association rebranded as the Livermore Valley Wine Community. "We have chosen to anchor ourselves to each other as a community and celebrate the quality of our wines and grapes as we strive to continue to make award-winning wines in our region," says Brandi Lombardi, Executive Director of Livermore Valley Wine Community. "There is always a healthy competition amongst our wineries, but it never overshadows our deep-seated desire to see each other succeed and to share that sense of community with each visitor to our wine region."

Since the rebranding, a variety of other changes have been implemented or are in the works. "The Livermore Valley Wine Community is a leader in sustainability and using cutting edge technology to farm efficiently and with the lowest impact on our environment," notes Lombardi. "Our leadership has initiated an agri-tourism focus to ensure the sustainability of our region for years to come and to create experiences that share our love of the land with those taking a deep dive into the agricultural aspects of viticulture. We have also started a new scholarship program that launches at the end of August, ensuring that we are investing in the future winemakers, enologists, and wine professionals that desire a career in our region."

Additionally, the industry's annual premier wine and food weekend, formerly held in July, has been renamed TASTE: The Livermore Valley Wine Experience and moved to October. The Taste Our Terroir food and wine competition, which pairs Livermore Valley wineries and restaurants to compete for the perfect pairing, will now be part of the overall TASTE four-day event being held October 19 to 22. TASTE will also offer sommelier-led tasting experiences, vertical tastings with multiple wineries, gourmet pairings and cooking classes, outdoor activities among the vines, and more.

"We decided to move this event to October because it is one of the most spectacular times to visit the Livermore Valley," according to Heather McGrail, Chair of TASTE and President of McGrail Vineyards and Winery. "The weather is wonderful, the vines are lush, harvest is wrapping up, and the smell of the grapes and fermenting wine are in the air. You won't want to miss this unforgettable weekend in Livermore Valley."

Wente Vineyards has long played an important role in Livermore Valley's history as a wine region and continues to be an industry pioneer. The winery is among the first to become a certified sustainable vineyard and winery from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, for example. Moreover, the nation's longest continuously family owned and operated winery is celebrating its 140th harvest this year in a variety of ways. Wine lovers can help the family celebrate on September 9 with a picturesque harvest dinner in the vineyards. The seasonal wine country menu will be paired with special wines from the Wente Vineyards portfolio.

Wine lovers, nature lovers, and fans of good food have many reasons to appreciate living in or near the Livermore Valley Wine region. A nearly endless variety of events are hosted throughout the year. On August 24, an evening of wine tasting with the Women's Wine Collective of Livermore Valley called Hints of Harvest will be held at the Martinelli Center in the Vineyards of Livermore Valley. This unique event will feature wines from 11 female-driving local wineries. The women behind the wines will be pouring their personal favorites.

Of course, any day is a good day to celebrate the region's amazing wines and beautiful scenery. "One thing that always seems to surprise visitors is our ability to make so many varietals of wine in our region," notes Lombardi. "We have our roots in Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon but we are winning awards left and right making Rhone varietals, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and many more."

"There's a lot of pride in living and working so close to California's original wine country," notes Fahr. "Our wineries are predominantly family owned and operated, where everybody knows each other. Imagine bringing your out-of-town guests into your favorite winery, being greeted by name, and treated like family. That's what happens out here. It's a very easy selling point for visiting the beautiful Tri-Valley region and perhaps even more so for those of us who live here."

For more information about the Livermore Valley Wine Community, please visit

For more information about TASTE: The Livermore Valley Wine Experience, please visit

For more information about Wente's 140th Harvest Celebration, please visit

To buy tickets for Hints of Harvest, please visit

Photo by James Dimas on Unsplash

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