Everybody’s heard of Napa and Sonoma Valley – a quick check of the traffic reports on a Saturday morning in the summer will verify this as fact. And what’s not to like – there is a lot of choice in terms of styles of wineries, all fairly close together, so you can definitely find something you like without a lot of hassle.
My vote, though, is to head east – out over Berkley Hills, to Livermore Valley. Also known as the TriValley, it is here where I think the best wines of the bay area are to be had. It’s a personal taste, though; the wines here are nice and smooth, probably because of the dry, warmer climate that the valley often gets. If you’re based in the city and want to warm up, it’s almost always nicer here than in the city (though the Bay Area weather is an ever-changing beast).
A top recommendation is a stop at Rios Lovell, a small winery with friendly staff and some of my favorite wine of all time. Their cabernets are to die for, but don’t turn down the opportunity to sample their other selections.
Livermore Valley is about an hour east of San Francisco; I’d suggest you bring a picnic lunch and of course pick up the wine to accompany when you get here. The Livermore Valley Wine Country website has an excellent map that you can print out to help you navigate the area. The wineries aren’t as packed closely together as they are in Napa, so be sure to give yourself time to explore the area properly.
- Unique way to tour San Francisco
- East meets West Tweetup Brunch at Gather Berkeley