A Day in the Tri-Valley
An itinerary for exploring the wine country to the east.
Harvest season is the perfect time to visit the Tri-Valley. The birthplace of many of California’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grape varieties is just 30 miles east of downtown San Francisco. While an entire weekend could easily be spent in historic tasting rooms, the Tri-Valley’s miles of natural preserves beg to be explored by foot, as does the selection at California’s largest outlet mall, the San Francisco Premium Outlets.—BY MARGAUX LUSHING
Caffeinate with lavender-infused espresso or an Earl Gey latte at Livermore’s new Espresso Rosetta. The light and bright local favorite is less than five miles from the area’s best-known wineries. For a throwback breakfast, bustling Denica’s Real Food Kitchen in Livermore and Dublin serves up a wide range of morning go-tos, from eggs Benedict to the Happy Vegan Burrito.
Head over to Livermore’s Tesla Road via the 580, the main thoroughfare for exploring Livermore’s (more than 50) wineries. Steven Kent Winery is the most decorated. Aficionados can opt for the Cabernet-focused reserve tasting served in the barrel room. At neighboring Nottingham Cellars you can sample pours of Ralphi’s Red Blend and Supremacy Bordeaux blend. The tasting bar and outdoor picnic area at
Retzlaff Vineyards have a cozy, familyfriendly vibe, and an entire afternoon can be spent luxuriating over wine and local cuisine at the recently renovated
Murietta’s Well. The area’s heaviest hitter is Wente Vineyards, owned by the same family after whom California’s main Chardonnay clone is named, and to which 80 percent of California’s Chardonnay can be traced.
If you’re running from winery to winery, a quick lunch that won’t bog down your tasting schedule is key. Hole-in-the wall
El Charro Mexican Food & Cantina is close to the area’s wineries. Locals come for the enchiladas with made-from- scratch sauce. If you’re more into marinara than salsa, Pleasanton’s Gay 90’s
Pizza draws locals with its saloon decor and family-friendly atmosphere. For a savory after-lunch treat, pop over to the
Victorine Valley Farms’ tasting room to sample housemade olive oils and nab a few bath products made from olive oil.
Walk it off by cruising the sale racks of Livermore’s San Francisco Premium
Outlets or trekking up Mt. Diablo, the highest point in the Tri-Valley at nearly 4,000 feet tall. You’ll find hikes ranging from 3 to 7.8 miles and plenty of waterfalls along the way. Or if wine tasting leaves you more inclined to relax, Livermore’s Purple Orchid Spa offers an essential oil massage that uses infused olive oils grown onsite.
After watching the sunset at Pleas
anton Ridge Regional Park, home to views of the entire valley, head into downtown Pleasanton for a taste of the Tri-Valley’s best seasonal dining. At Sabio, chef Francis Hogan serves a stunning, California-meets-Spain menu of small plates. The excellent new whiskey program could be at home in San Francisco, and the HMB English peas and favas alone are worth a visit. For a meal by the vines, head to the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards for cuisine made from produce grown onsite and served in a white tablecloth atmosphere.
Mt. Diablo fog at sunrise