Reviewed by Carmen Madrid
Since I have given a "thumbs up" to a few wines from the Liver-more Valley within the pages of my own personal wine catalog, I thought I would check out a book that includes appealing descriptions of the vineyards, winemakers, and even terroir of palatable favorites like Concannon and Las Positas.
Author Thomas C. Wilmer has successfully melded valuable information for two disparate worlds--tourists and wine enthusiasts. Without bending to snobbery or dumbing down the subject, The Wine Seeker's Guide to Livermore Valley satisfies the wine aficionado in me while piquing my childlike curiosity (the longest-lasting light bulb in history is in Livermore!).
The Livermore Valley region of California is like a not-so-popular sibling to the more famous Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Yet the many vineyards and wineries of this less-lauded area are winners in their own right. Livermore offers intimate settings for tasting rooms, a smattering of charming places to eat, and acres of rich soil that has been home to some award-winning grapevines dating back to the 1760s.
Wilmer skillfully combines statistics with anecdotes and history with philosophy. Before you ever set foot inside any of the 40-plus wineries that make up one of California's oldest wine regions, you will know the owner's family background and the vintner's canon for producing wine. Wilmer details the different blends available at each winery, as well as how the variety of vines came to settle in the Livermore Valley.
As a practical guide, the book provides more than such specifics as hours of operation and driving directions. Wilmer gives equal attention to lodging and dining recommendations.
To make your visit an experience for the whole family, he shares some of the area's non-wine attractions. The Centennial Light Bulb Fire Station #6 is home to that bulb burning since 1901. And the Blackhawk Museum has more than 90 classic cars on display, plus educational lectures, an automotive research library, and a bookstore.
At the easternmost edge of the Bay Area, Livermore Valley is an easy day trip when visiting San Francisco. This wine country is the perfect destination for road-trippers trying to squeeze in one more adventure. And The Wine Seeker's Guide is the perfect volume to tuck in the glove box.
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