Livermore Stories

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Livermore Stories: Mitchell Katz Winery

Mitchell Katz is a survivor.  He launched his eponymous winery in Livermore Valley in 1998 and four years later moved into the historic Ruby Hill tasting room, a massive yet beautiful old brick building that dates back to 1887.  In 2012 Mitch was basically forced to buy out his business partner in the winery, and left to find a new home for his winery and tasting room.  He had challenges securing building loans for his first chosen location, then met some community opposition opening his current location.

Livermore Stories: Pat Paulsen Vineyards

M&G WineLuv

Monty Paulsen loves to create wine brands.  He’s an eclectic winemaker, making wine from wherever he can get his hands on grapes, be that Martinez, California or the Valle Central in Chile.  On his website alone you’ll find four brands with a total of 26 different wines.  These days you’ll find Monty behind the Pat Paulsen Vineyards tasting bar of his newly opened tasting room in Livermore Valley.

Livermore Stories: Wood Family Vineyards

This is another installment of a series called “Livermore Stories,” which takes a look at the most exciting wineries in this wine growing region located east of San Francisco.  More than 50 wineries now call Livermore Valley home.  The wines have never been better, and the wineries have great stories to tell. Winemakers come to winemaking from all sorts of backgrounds.  Take Rhonda Wood.  “I used to fly for US Airways,” says the commercial airline pilot turned vintner.  “I flew as a First Officer on the Airbus 320, the Boeing 737, the F 100, and the BAE 146, and I was side saddle (flight engineer) on the Boeing 727.”  How many winemakers can say that? Rhonda’s winery is Wood Family Vineyards, in the heart of Livermore Valley.  She actually started learning about making wine in Fremont, a community in the southern San Francisco Bay Area, where she and her husband…

Livermore Stories: BoaVentura de Caires Winery

“Handcrafted” has become such a buzzword in the wine industry that it’s almost meaningless, superfluous.  But not at BoaVentura de Caires, the Livermore Valley winery owned by Brett Caires.  His operation is truly handcrafted. Brett planted the vineyards and renovated the horse corral that’s now his winery and tasting room almost wood plank by wood plank.  He salvaged redwood, a couple of stained glass windows and a door from buildings on the nearby Concannon Vineyard property that were being demolished.  And, oh yeah, Brett farms the vineyards and makes the wine.  His hands are on every grape cluster, every vat of fermenting grape juice, every barrel of aging wine, every bottle filled and dipped in wax. BoaVentura is not your typical winery, and that’s what makes it such a wonderful place to visit.  When you pull up the steep driveway, you see a sign that says “No limos past this…

Livermore Stories: Caddis Wines

This is another installment of a series called “Livermore Stories,” which takes a look at the most exciting wineries in this wine growing region located east of San Francisco.  More than 50 wineries now call Livermore Valley home.  The wines have never been better, and the wineries have great stories to tell. It’s barrel tasting weekend at the end of March in Livermore Valley, and only the third time that Caddis Wines has been open to the public. “We’re in our pop up tasting room,” says Chris Sorensen, winemaker and co-owner.  “We’re the new guys in town,” adds his co-owner Courtney Garcia.  “We’ve been making wine since 2010, all Livermore fruit except our Zinfandel.”  That fruit comes from her parent’s vineyard in Sonoma Valley. At a mere 300 cases, “we’re tiny but we’re mighty,” says Courtney.  She and Chris met when she started working at nearby Occasio Winery, where Chris…

Livermore Stories: 3 Steves Winery

This is another installment of a series called “Livermore Stories,” which takes a look at the most exciting wineries in this wine growing region located east of San Francisco.  More than 50 wineries now call Livermore Valley home.  The wines have never been better, and the wineries have great stories to tell. The tag line says it all.  “3 friends striving to make the perfect wine.”  Arriving at the 3 Steves Winery in Livermore Valley, and this is what you’ll hear.  “Hi, I’m Steve.”  “Hello, I’m Steve.”  “I’m Steve too.”  No kidding, these three guys are all named Steve. Their business card gives you a clue.  Steve Burman is “vertically challenged.”  Steve Melander “really does exist.”  And Steve Ziganti is “gray beard.”  If you sense the Steves don’t take themselves too seriously, you’re right.  But they make seriously good wine. They are an unlikely trio, who met as partners of…

Livermore Stories: Nottingham Cellars

This is another installment of a series called “Livermore Stories,” which takes a look at the most exciting wineries in this wine growing region located east of San Francisco.  More than 50 wineries now call Livermore Valley home.  The wines have never been better, and the wineries have great stories to tell. He’s been called a rising star, a rock star of the Livermore Valley wine scene.  He’s a young gun for sure – in his late 20’s – a completely self taught winemaker.  Meet Collin Cranor of Nottingham Cellars.  Two years ago, when I first tasted his Viognier and GSM – Grenache, Syrah Mourvedre blend that is – I was completely blown away.  This guy’s a major talent. While he didn’t get the top honor, Best of Show, at the recent San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition [that went to friends and neighboring Livermore winery 3 Steves] Collin’s wines took…

Livermore Stories: Cuda Ridge Wines

This is another installment of a series called “Livermore Stories,” which takes a look at the most exciting wineries in this wine growing region located east of San Francisco.  More than 50 wineries now call Livermore Valley home.  The wines have never been better, and the wineries have great stories to tell.  For Cuda Ridge Wines owner Larry Dino, the color “Plum Crazy Purple” has more than one meaning.  It’s the color of his restored 1970 Plymouth Barracuda muscle car that he saw one day on the side of the road, driving back to his home in Fremont, Calif, from looking for vineyard land in Sonoma (he eventually bought in Livermore Valley). “My wife said it looked like a bunch of garbage,” he says. Plum Crazy Purple is an original color for the Barracuda, and Larry spent three years refurbing the car, spending both lots of time and money on it. …

Livermore Stories: Darcie Kent Vineyards

This is the first in a series called “Livermore Stories,” which takes a look at the most exciting wineries in this wine growing region east of San Francisco.  More than 50 wineries now call Livermore Valley home, and the wines have never been better, and the wineries have great stories to tell.  Darcie Kent is back.  “I’m still learning Cabernet Franc,” says the Livermore Valley vintner as she’s sorting beautiful grapes just picked from her home vineyard during the 2013 harvest.  “This is just a luscious, luscious berry, it’s one of my favorite wines.” I first met Darcie in 2002 when she was just launching her namesake label, Darcie Kent Vineyards.  At the time, she was making only one wine, a Merlot, which is was what was planted in her home vineyard.  “We were doing a rip-roaring 50 to 100 cases out of my garage,” she says.  We taped a story…

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