AT A GLANCE
Why go now: It's wine country ― without the crowds.
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 lvwine.org
Livermore is in the East Bay, 45 miles east of San Francisco. From I-580, exit at N. Livermore Ave.