Wine Tasting in California

Prohibition in the United States caused a near destruction of the American wine industry, only a few vineyards survived by claiming their wine was for medicinal or sacramental purposes.

Once the ban was lifted in 1933 it took several decades to revive the industry as many of the vineyards were left abandoned or had been replanted with table grapes.

Grapes at Tenuta Vineyards

Thankfully the love of wine prevailed and America is now the 4th largest wine producer in the world!

At the risk of offending most of America, if one is looking to go wine tasting in the states there is really nowhere else to consider but California. California produces 89% of American wine and attracts thousands of chardonnay sipping tourists a year to its beautiful vineyards.

Livermore Valley
Napa Valley in Napa County is considered to be one of the premier wine regions in the country if not the world. However, with fame comes people, lots and lots of people.

Wine Barrels at McGrail Vineyard

Although Napa Valley would make for an incredible weekend away with all the gorgeous places there are to stay in the area, we decided to opt for a quieter one day trip to Livermore Valley.

Livermore Valley 

Surprisingly, the little known Livermore Valley is a historical giant in American wine culture. It won America's first gold medal for wine in 1889 but then fell off the map completely during prohibition. It is now enjoying a renaissance of its former glory with the number of vineyards in the region doubling in the last 10 years with there now being over 50 vineyards in total.

Underdog Wine Bar

It is 30 miles east from San Francisco and I would like to think its pretty hipster with the whole unknown treasure vibe its got going on.

Concannon Vineyards
First stop on our wine tasting adventure was McGrail Vineyards, it specialises in Cabernet Sauvignon and calls itself boutique.. see what I mean about the hipsterness?

Cabernet Sauvignon at McGrail Vineyard

Im not going to pretend to be a wine expert but from my inexperience palate, half the wines I tasted were great, I liked the set up and the service was fast, all in all pretty good. Lack of bar bitings though.. would it kill them to put out some peanuts?

Wine Tasting at McGrail

Choosing our next spot was conditional on it having food as we were starving by this stage and the peanut butter cups we had brought with us were beginning to run out. With this in mind we ended up in Concannon Vineyards.

Concannon Vineyards

Concannon is one of the original vineyards in the region and one of the few to survive prohibition. This sign of tenacity I took as an indictor of good things to come, and I was right. I loved the Underdog Bar, the food plates and wine were all delicious.

"All the wine is all for me"
- Song by The National, if you don't know them you are missing out!

We ordered a meat plate and a cheese plate and flights. Flights consist of 3 2oz pours of wine, I chose the bubbly flight and it was excellent.

Meat and Cheese Plates at Underdog Wine Bar
To finish up our Livermore tour we went to Tenuta Vineyards, the first place I have heard of to offer custom crushes! Though there is a 3 ton minimum and where an ordinary person would find 3 tons of grapes is beyond me.

Tenuta Vineyards
Either way I loved Tenuta. It had such a fun and relaxed atmosphere, a fresh take on the pretentious activity that is wine tasting. Plus Rich, the owner, let me play snoop dog on the sound system.. what more could you want!

Livermore Valley



  1. Glad you were extensive with this post and tackled almost everything about wine, including its short history. At any rate, the vineyards you visited are all lovely. Also, can I just say that the photo of the meat and cheese plates really had me drooling for a second. Hahaha! Thanks for sharing that! All the best! :)

    Irvin Moss @ The Brewmeister

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Irvin! The vineyards were lovely and it was great that they were slightly less well known than places like Napa.. gave it a much more personal feeling :)

      Ash | Liakada Travel