Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To Livermore, CA

October 6, 2012 11:00 AM

(Murrieta's Well Vineyards / Credit: Laurie Farr)
An exceptional combination of soil and elevation, an east-west orientation, a certain morning fog and breeze and glorious sunshine with cool nights have created perfect grape-growing conditions in Livermore, California. East Bay wine country offers a full weekend’s worth of activities. Wine tasting, beer tasting, fine dining, championship golf, spa treatments and a horse-drawn carriage ride, what more could you want?

Getting There

The distance to Livermore is 40 miles, over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. Take exit 8B to merge onto I-580 east toward CA-24/Hayward/Stockton. Go 35 miles to exit 52B, then turn right into Livermore. Located at the easternmost edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, the journey to Livermore normally takes an hour.

What To Do

Wente Vineyards Estate Winery & Tasting Room
5050 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 456-2400

Founded in 1883, Wente is the oldest continuously operated, family owned winery in America. The 3,000 acres of sustainably farmed estate vineyards, managed by fourth- and fifth-generation family members, make it a must-see stop on a Livermore Valley tour. Informative wine tastings are $5 or $10 and complimentary tours of the historic sandstone caves take place daily, with wine tastings held in the caves on weekends for $20. Beautiful grounds with a water feature surround the patio, so bring a picnic lunch.

Livermore Horse-Drawn Carriages
Concannon Vineyard
4590 Tesla Road
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 594-1760

If you’re traveling with a group of up to 12 or would enjoy joining one, consider a Scottish Clydesdale horse, Danny, and driver, Stephanie, to clip-clop via Victorian carriage among three or four wineries. Stop for tastings along the way over the course of four hours while taking in the fresh air and seeing the wine country up close. Custom-made sandwiches and beverages are included. Call for reservations. 

(Old Barrel Room at Murrieta's Well / Credit: Laurie Farr)

(Murrieta's Well Vineyards / Credit: Laurie Farr)

Murrieta’s Well
3005 Mines Road
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 456-2395

Stumbling upon the magic of a bubbling artesian well around 1850, the legendary Joaquin Murrieta and his gang of Gold Rush bandits settled down momentarily. Some 30 years after their capture, the 92 acres of gravelly soil surrounding the well were planted with vine cuttings imported from a châteaux in Bordeaux. Wine tastings of the estate blends, whose grapes are harvested at night, take place at this scenic spot with a captivating old barrel room, a favorite setting for brides and grooms.

(Golf Course at Wente Vineyards / Credit: Laurie Farr)

The Course at Wente Vineyards
5040 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 456-2477

Greg Norman designed an 18-hole public course with a private feel to traverse three distinct ecosystems: native woodlands, mature vineyards and rolling hills of natural grasslands. The result is stunning and exclusive as no houses line the course. Out here, it’s just you, the scenery, the sunshine and the course. Those familiar with San Francisco’s “crookedest street in the world” will understand the reference at this amusing twisted climb between holes nine and 10. Drive carefully!

Related: Best Campgrounds In The East Bay Area

Where To Eat

(First Street Alehouse / Credit: Laurie Farr)

First Street Alehouse
2106 1st St.
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 371-6588

Home to the nation’s largest collection of beer cans hailing from Antarctica to Zimbabwe, all 6,000 are artfully and alphabetically exhibited on the brick walls of this popular spot. Choose from two dozen rotating beers on tap and bottled beers including gluten-free and non-alcoholic options. Tuesday is All Day Happy Hour and Thursday is Pint Night until midnight. A long menu covers a breakfast buffet on the weekends, daily lunch and dinner and a kids’ menu for ages 12 and under.

Uncle Yu’s at the Vineyard
39 S. Livermore Ave.
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 449-7000

Although fine wine is not typically associated with Chinese food, Sommelier Nick will introduce you to menu pairings from his extensive cellars. Uncle Yu’s signature formula of spices from the east and wines from the west is receiving considerable attention. For example, a 2005 Merlot from Picazo Vineyards Reserve paired with roast duck breast marinated with tea leaves on a bed of Mandarin noodles is divine. There is ample parking for lunch or dinner in the heart of vibrant downtown Livermore.

Related: Best Jazz and Blues Clubs in East Bay

Where To Stay

(Purple Orchid Resort & Spa / Credit: Laurie Farr)

The Purple Orchid Resort & Spa

4549 Cross Road
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 606-8855

For a change from grape vines to olive trees, check into a charming bed and breakfast with an emphasis on relaxation. Determining how to best spend your time between a morning massage and poolside lunch may be the day’s toughest decision. Abundant rose bushes are reminiscent of an English garden and acres of verdant Manzanilla olive orchards surround as on the hills of Seville, but the Lincoln-Log construction translates to California landscape. Meet the delightful new owners who have personally redecorated this wine-country gem with a keen eye for detail.

Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. A transplanted New Yorker, she has traveled throughout the world as the Big Apple’s official tourism representative. She served as organizer for three Royal Visits to America. As an international relocation consultant, Laurie assisted more than 400 families with overseas moves and is a proud mother of two, thoroughly bi-cultural children. Her work can be found on

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