We discovered a new tasting room in Livermore! Yes, a new tasting room, but not actually a new winery! How is this possible? In the fine Livermore tradition of winemakers supporting winemakers, the San Francisco Bay Winery started pouring in the Rios-Lovell tasting room. With the change of ownership taking place at Rios-Lovell, it was time for SF Bay Winery to leave the nest. Here’s our first experience in their brand new tasting room.
|Dan Explains His Approach|
The San Francisco Bay Winery tasting room is on East Avenue, just short of Vasco Road. The tasting room is nestled within a series of specialty suites in a large warehouse space. We roamed around a bit, finding the entrance more by accident than plan (hint: enter from the Vasco Road side of the building, not the East Avenue side like we did).
We were warmly greeted by owner/winemaker Dan Baldwin. He quickly shared the background of his winery and proudly described his approach to wine making and the ingenious methods that he has used to source his grapes. His rich experience in the Livermore wine scene drew us in, even before he began pouring his wines
We started with the SFBay Sauvingnon Blanc, with a crisp, light taste that hits fast and disappears almost without a trace. Great pairing with mild cheeses. The Chardonnay was buttery, with hints of lemon zest. A unique Zinfandel Rose elicited grapefruit and melon notes.
A favorite with our group was the Diablo Grande. This Cabernet Sauvignon wine has strawberry notes, with an off-dry finish that begs for some soft cheese and crackers.
We moved onto the Livermore Merlot, a fruit forward wine with a lovely, dry finish. If you are new to Merlot, this is a great starting point!
Another group favorite was the Meritage. We learned from Dan that label Meritage is a combination of the words merit and heritage, and even has its own marketing association. To be labeled a Meritage, a wine must contain no more than 90% of any one grape, and contain at least two of the Noble Grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, the fundamental grapes from which classical wine making emerged). Regardless of heritage, we found it delicious, with a wonderful balance of fruit and a dry finish. One of these bottles came home with us.
We then took up their Riesling, a sweet and fruity version of that varietal, followed by their Orange Muscat, with hints of apricots.
Our tasting concluded with two ports. Yes, Dan knows how to make me happy: just produce several ports. First we tasted his Zinfandel Port. A nice, main-stream port with great body and possibly a hint of apple on the tongue. The highlight of the tasting, for me, was the Petite Verdot Port. This Port won a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair, and we would taste why. Light and spirited, a bottle of this unique port made its way home with us.
We had a full day of winery visits planned, so we purchased our wines, said our goodbyes to Dan, and made our way out. Another great winery to add to our tour list!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?