Livermore First-Time Visitor Guide

  • Livermore
  • by WINECOUNTRY COLLECTIVE
  • on MARCH 27, 2024
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Livermore

Livermore First-Time Visitor Guide

By WineCountry Collective March 27, 2024

Tucked away less than an hour east of the vibrant city of San Francisco, Livermore Valley Wine Country remains one of Northern California’s best-kept secrets. Here, wine tasting is a leisurely affair—a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of California’s more popular wine regions. Surrounded by picturesque canyons and just a stone’s throw from bustling Bay Area cities, Livermore Valley is the perfect retreat for wine enthusiasts seeking an intimate and friendly atmosphere.

Livermore Wine Community
Photo courtesy of Livermore Wine Community

Livermore’s Wine Heritage

What you may not realize is that Livermore Valley is one of California’s oldest wine regions! Its roots trace back to the 1700s when Spanish missionaries planted the first wine grapes in the area. The 1840s marked a significant turning point when Robert Livermore introduced the first commercial vineyard to the area. The founding of the first wineries by Carl H. Wente and James Concannon in 1883 cemented Livermore Valley’s place in California’s wine history.

Concannon Vineyard | Harrison Miller
Photo courtesy of Concannon Vineyard | Harrison Miller

The creation of the Livermore Valley American Viticultural Area in 1982 signaled a new era of growth and recognition for the region. Fast forward to today, and Livermore Valley is home to over 50 thriving wineries, benefiting from the valley’s unique east-west orientation. This geographical advantage allows for the perfect blend of coastal fog and marine breezes, resulting in ideal conditions for producing perfectly ripened, balanced fruit.

Livermore Wine Community
Photo courtesy of Livermore Wine Community

How to Get There

Getting to Livermore Wine Country is a breeze, thanks to its convenient location on the east side of the Bay Area. Whether you’re flying into San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose, you’re just a short drive away—57 miles from SFO, 40 miles from OAK, and 30 miles from SJC.

Ready to set your sights on Livermore Valley Wine Country? From where to sip to where to stay, our first-time visitor’s guide has everything you need to make your trip unforgettable.

Concannon Vineyard | Harrison Miller
Concannon, Photo courtesy of Concannon Vineyard | Harrison Miller

Where to Taste

Step into history at the beautiful Concannon Vineyard, founded in the 1800s. Known for their Bordeaux-inspired wines, Concannon offers a plethora of tasting options to delight your palate. A few miles away is Las Positas Vineyards, a family- and dog-friendly winery known for its small-lot wines that blend Old World winemaking traditions with a New World spirit. Taste their selection from the expansive outdoor patio while enjoying tapas and regular live music.

Livermore Wine Community
Photo courtesy of Livermore Wine Community

3 Steves Winery is a small, award-winning gem that’s been receiving rave reviews. Don’t let its size fool you—this winery packs a punch with its robust selection of wines. They also regularly host trivia and family movie nights, making it a fun destination anytime of year.

Wente Vineyards
Photo courtesy of Wente Vineyards

Also not to be missed is Wente Vineyards. Experience the legacy of this sustainable, family-owned winery, where over 75% of California’s Chardonnay has roots in Wente clones. Enjoy a glass on their beautiful outdoor terrace and savor the taste of tradition.

Last but not least, Wood Family Vineyards is a small, family-owned winery located in Livermore’s urban winery area known as Vasco Row. Besides tasty Cabernets and Zinfandels, Wood Family offers a welcoming atmosphere that is as down-to-earth as its owners.

Range Life
Food at Range Life, Photo courtesy of Range Life

Where to Eat

Downtown Livermore’s Wingen Bakery is the place to go for mouthwatering sourdough breads, sandwiches, and pastries. Their baked goods are highly sought-after, so whether you’re there for breakfast or lunch, you’re in for a delicious treat.

Wingen Bakery
Bagel sandwich, Photo courtesy of Wingen Bakery
Wingen Bakery
Sourdough pancakes, Photo courtesy of Wingen Bakery

Sons of Liberty Alehouse is a bustling restaurant known for its casual vibe and elevated American pub fare. Open for lunch, dinner, and brunch, this popular spot takes special care to source as locally as possible, always with an emphasis on fresh, organic ingredients.

Range Life
Interior of Range Life, Photo courtesy of Range Life

At Range Life, expect seasonally focused, elevated California-style cuisine with a global twist. Celebrating close relationships with local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, Range Life offers a menu that’s as fresh as it is delicious.

Locanda Wine Bar is another worthy spot, where the menu highlights traditional Italian cuisine prepared with modern creativity. This welcoming restaurant is a must for its delicious pizzas and other Italian fare, best enjoyed alongside one of Locanda’s inventive cocktails or regional wines.

Visit Tri-Valley
Photo courtesy of Visit Tri-Valley

What to Do

Hop aboard the Livermore Wine Trolley for a delightful and unique way to explore the vineyards and wineries of Livermore Valley. This charming ride offers a fun and scenic tour, ensuring an unforgettable wine tasting adventure. For a more adventurous way to explore the vineyards on your own time, consider renting an electric bike from Pedego. Glide through the scenic countryside, stopping at wineries along the way for a truly memorable experience.

While you may have been lured to Livermore Wine Country for its wineries, we definitely suggested making time to explore the charm of downtown Livermore with its array of shops, offering everything from boutique clothing to artisanal goods. If you time it right, you can also visit downtown’s Farmers’ Market—held every Thursday in Carnegie Park from 4-8 pm, April through October, as well as every Sunday year-round on Second Street. Browse through gourmet food products, savor local wine, and admire the beautiful flowers, all while supporting local producers.

Photos courtesy of Livermore Farmers’ Market

Step back in time at the Ravenswood Historic Site, a beautifully preserved estate that offers a glimpse into Livermore’s past. Explore the Victorian buildings and picturesque grounds for a peaceful and educational outing.

Del Valle Regional Park is a picturesque 4,314-acre park set around Lake Del Valle, just 10 miles south of Livermore. Pack a picnic lunch, hike the trails, or rent a canoe to enjoy a moment of solitude.

In the late afternoon or evening, check out a new movie or classic film at The Vine Cinema and Alehouse, where you can nosh on a burger or salad while enjoying a show. Afterwards, head to Almost Famous Wine Company, an incubator for new wines from The Livermore Valley. Discover wines from up-and-coming producers then stay for live music or a comedy performance.

Purple Orchid Resort, Photo courtesy of Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort & Spa

Where to Stay

The 10-suite Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort & Spa is an inviting place to stay in Livermore, featuring country-style rooms, a complimentary breakfast each morning, and a relaxing on-site spa. It’s also just a stone’s throw to Livermore’s many wineries, making it the perfect base for your Wine Country weekend.

At The Rose Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Livermore, you’ll find well-appointed guest rooms decorated with old world charm, along with perks such as free continental breakfast and complimentary snacks and coffee in the lobby.

Just outside of town, Homewood Suites Livermore is another good option, where a stay includes free breakfast and parking, along with access to an outdoor pool and fitness center. With pet-friendly rooms available, it’s a great choice for those traveling with furry friends.

And at the Courtyard by Marriott Livermore, brand-new guest rooms are just part of the appeal; an on-site restaurant and bar, a communal outdoor fire pit, and a 1,700-square-foot fitness center ensure a comfortable, enjoyable stay.

Conclusion:

With its blend of award-winning wine, culture, history, and nature, Livermore offers a wealth of activities to make your visit truly special. Whether you’re a local or an out-of-towner visiting for the weekend, there’s truly something for everyone in this relaxed and charming part of Northern California.