When I first moved to San Francisco, I assumed “wine country” was synonymous with the Napa and Sonoma regions. I learned fast this was not the case, and was especially intrigued by all the wine tasting events bringing various regions straight into San Francisco (like Taste of Mendocino and SF Vintners Market, for example). Fort Mason is a venue that’s perfect for wine tasting events such as these, with ample space for hundreds of wineries to participate and pour their favorite varietals.

Another option, however, is taking a day trip outside the city and exploring wine country. With harvest around the corner, there are many wine tasting events to look forward to, and one that I found especially intriguing is the Livermore Valley 30th Harvest Wine Celebration.

Just 35 miles outside SF, turns out that Livermore Valley Wine Country is one of California’s oldest regions, boasting more than 4,000 acres of grapes and close to 50 wineries. I spoke with Andrea Branton, Events and Marketing Manager for the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association on what they’re doing to make their 30th Annual Harvest Wine Celebration special.

Over Labor Day weekend, there will be 40 wineries offering wines, music, vendors, food for sale, and a good time – 40 parties, and one ticket includes access to all of them.

Genius idea? Shuttle buses. While the event is both Sunday and Monday, the reason Sunday ends up being the busiest is due to complimentary shuttle buses taking guests throughout the region. Each bus holds 30 passengers and will travel along three different bus routes, with each route covering between five and 12 wineries. Make sure to check out their bus map outlining wineries on each route and to plan the weekend.

Each winery will host a wide array of activities and food for sale including shucked oysters, bbq, cheese plates, salads, sandwiches, sweets, and more.

Fun facts: Livermore Valley was the first to varietally label (put in a bottle and name), Chardonnay, Petite Sirah and Sauvignon Blanc, and 80 percent of the California chardonnay made today has it’s genetic roots to the Livermore Valley Wente clone. The region was also the recipient of the first American Award for wine putting California on the world wine map in 1889 at the Paris Exposition.

Now, you have some knowledge to share when you hit the harvest. Get out there and enjoy!

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