We had the day off yesterday from taking care of the grandkids and we decided to do something that we hadn’t done in years: go winetasting in the Livermore Valley. So we drove to the end of Crow Canyon Road in Castro Valley and took the I-580 freeway east toward Pleasanton.
The traffic on I-580 sometimes slows to a crawl on weekday afternoons and so we got off the freeway at the Foothill Road exit and took the scenic route through Pleasanton to get to the Livermore vineyards — Bernal, Vineyard, Concannon and a few other roads before reaching South Livermore Avenue which after a while becomes Tesla Road. There are a dozen wineries on Tesla including the two oldest in the valley, Concannon and Wente. We chose Wente.
Wente is by far the largest winery in the valley and it has two tasting rooms. The main tasting room is next to their fancy restaurant and famous golf course on nearby Arroyo Road. But we went to the less crowded Estate Tasting Room on Tesla. The same wine is served at both places.
We took the scenic route but If you’re coming from Brentwood or from I-580 the best way to get to Wente’s is to take Vasco Road south past the Lawrence Livermore Lab until it dead-ends at Tesla. Then you turn right on Tesla and Wente will soon be on your left.
Wine tasters have a choice of two $5 and one $10 flights, all with five samples each. Kristin, our pourer for the day, customized a flight for Bee who prefers her wine light and not too dry. So her five samples were a Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc, a Small Lot Viognier, an Eric’s Chardonnay, a Small Lot Pinot Noir Rose and a River Bank Riesling. All wines were from 2010. I chose the $10 Winemaker Flight which features Wente’s The Nth Degree brand. I had a Merlot and a Syrah and a Cabernet Sauvignon from 2008, and a Pinot Noir and a Sonata from 2009. Four of the wines were pretty good and the Cabernet was magnificent!
After our wine tasting we stepped outside and entered a nice garden setting with tables, chairs and umbrellas and got ready for the next event: dinner and entertainment. It’s called Wente Wednesdays and you can buy a glass of wine (or bottle if you prefer), purchase a hot sandwich and sit back and listen to some relaxing music. Wente allows you to bring in your own food if you want and I noticed a few people did. Bee and I bought our hot sandwiches from Scotty’s Catering. She decided on a roasted pork chop sandwich with applesause and I had a grilled lemon chicken sandwich with mashed potatoes. The chicken went well with a glass of Morning Fog Chardonnay ($6). Bee volunteered to drive home and so had bottled water with her dinner.
A guitarist named Isaac Bolivar entertained us while we ate and then a woman named Lisa Marie Johnston sang and played her guitar for about an hour. Lisa Marie calls herself a “realrockstarcowgirl” and she sang a mixture of songs, some of which she wrote herself. I only recognized one song — Desperado, an old Eagles song from the 70s. She told us that she has her own youtube channel and you can also download some of her recordings from iTunes.
Lisa Marie took a break around 7 o’clock and we decided that we better head back home. It looked like everyone else was sticking around until the show would be over at 8 pm. But we got home in time to see most of the Giants game and to get a good night’s sleep before babysitting again the next day.
And I have another wine glass to add to our collection!