Disclosure: I was invited out to Livermore Valley Wine Country for their Barrel Tasting Weekend. All experiences are my own. Also, thanks to Visit Tri-Valley for the beautiful weekend of fun and discovery.
To this day, I still look back on my first Barrel Tasting experience fondly. The excitement of watching them get the wine directly out of the barrel with their wine thief then watching them pour it into my glass. The excitement of trying out the wine, and of course, the surreal experience of tasting the YOUNG wines straight out of the barrel. There’s really nothing else like it.
Over the years I’ve come to really enjoy Barrel Tastings, in that, it’s a GREAT chance, to taste the latest vintages straight from the barrel. You get the wines young and ripe, but will have a good idea as to what the wines will turn into, and from there, decide if you want to invest in them.
During Livermore Valley’s Barrel Tasting Weekend, it was no different, but what’s GREAT about attending a Barrel Tasting Weekend is that some wineries that may not always be open, may just happen to open their doors for the weekend event. Another great reason is that the wineries may offer up a really good deal on the future buy for their wines, so if you happen to run across a wine you really enjoy, you could get a GREAT deal on it, before it’s released to the general public.
As I explored the region, I happened to run across Livermore Valley Wine Country’s great hospitality, some new favorite wineries, and of course, found some great wines in the process. And, I just may have found a few spots worth spending a full day at.
Retzlaff Estate Wines And Vineyards:
When I pulled into Retzlaff Estate Wines and Vineyards, it was near the end of my day, and, I was looking for a bit of calm. Boy, when I pulled up, I had NO IDEA, this was exactly the place I was looking for.
Walking through the White Archway, a food truck selling wood fired pizzas greeted me, many people sat tableside with their friends and family while enjoying the musician performing on stage. It was a great site to walk into.
I slowly made my way to the back shed, where the barrels were waiting. I saw what they were pouring: 2 Cabernet Sauvignons, a Chardonnay, and a Sauvignon Blanc. I instantly knew I wanted to try the whites (considering that Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnays have such an important history within Livermore Valley.)
After my tasting, I walked back into the backyard, found a chair in the shade, and just sat and listened to the musician in front of me while I enjoyed my surroundings. It couldn’t have been any more peaceful. This was a place I could see myself bringing fruit, cheeses, crackers, and a small lunch to while enjoying their delicious wines. And, from what I could see, it was a favorite amongst locals too.
Las Positas Vineyards:
If any Winery left a total impression on me during my weekend visit, it was Las Positas Vineyards. From the breathtaking views across the street from their property, to the gorgeous grounds of their estate, this Winery was one of my favorites during my trip.
Trying out the Cabernet Sauvignons, two different clones, from the barrels, while enjoying them on the beautiful patio grounds, truly, this is another location worth spending some time at while in Livermore.
The views are worth it alone, but then you add in the wines.
Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery
When I first arrived on the grounds of Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery, their winery dog greeted me, helped me park, then walked me up to the winery grounds, of course, minding his own business, as he did it.
Right away, I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous grounds, their fantastic backyard garden, another winery, where I could see myself spending an entire afternoon at with a bottle of one of their wines including their Merlot, which just won Gold.
More of their gorgeous backyard:
Charles R Vineyards:
The entire reason I stopped into Charles R Vineyards was because it was well recommended by another tasting room. The rule is in wine country is this: If it’s recommended, you make the time to stop in. Because the people that live and work within the area know the places to go.
Charles R Vineyards was one of those places, if it wasn’t the beautiful backyard grounds, it was truly shown in their wines, where they showed the same wine in 3 different vintage years giving you the full experience of what the wine can truly turn into. And let me tell you, they have a talent in the wines they make.
Wood Family Vineyards:
One thing I heard over and over during the Barrel Tasting Weekend was that Wood Family Vineyards was open! A place that usually isn’t open to the public without reservations, so needless to say, it was a must stop for many of the locals in the area.
BUT, truly, what was more awesome, was the showcase of wines they had at the ready to be shown. For their barrel tasting experience they had two barrels next to each other: An American Barrel and a first year used French Oak Barrel, and had us compare the two wines together. Needless to say, it was a GREAT experience is truly seeing the difference a barrel makes for the wine being aged.
And, of course, their kind Livermore Hospitality really made an impression.
Although I couldn’t mention all of the wineries during my recent trip some others that really stood out during the weekend included: Mitchell Katz, Fenestra Winery, Cuda Ridge and Les Chenes Estates (shown below!)
If you haven’t gotten yourself to Livermore Valley Wine Country in awhile, it’s time to plan a weekend getaway or visit sometime this spring or summer. Pay homage to the wine region that has had a huge impact on California wine today.