Plan a trip to Sonoma wine country

Of all California’s wine regions, Sonoma may be the easiest to fall in love with. Visit this laid-back land of vineyard-rich valleys, from Sonoma to Dry Creek to Alexander, with the Russian River thrown in

A California wine lover's day trip to Livermore

Sip and stroll close to home and far away from the tourist hordes


Tasting rooms line downtown Livermore's Blacksmith Square.

Davis Fenton

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  • Livermore



Why go now: It's wine country ― without the crowds.

Population: 87,054

Backdrop: Vines juxtaposed with golden hills; old homes with wraparound porches.

What makes the wine so good: A rare east-west orientation invites cool marine breezes, yielding balanced fruit.

Star grape: Petite Sirah

Veteran vintner: Robert Livermore, who planted vines here in the 1840s.

Wineries in the valley: 44 (and counting)

Event not to miss: Harvest Wine Celebration (Aug 31–Sep 1; tickets from $45), with music, food, and shuttles between wineries.

Score a seat: At Movida ($$$; 2417 First St.; 925/373-1002), nibble on small plates like scallops with roasted fingerling potatoes.

What's growing: Grapevines, of course, but also owner Candice Dixon's prize roses at Les Chênes Estate Vineyards ($5 tasting fee; 5562 Victoria Lane).

Overheard: "We're working on being more stuck up, but we're not very good at it."

Map it: Download a wine map at

Getting there
Livermore is in the East Bay, 45 miles east of San Francisco. From I-580, exit at N. Livermore Ave.


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