Though Napa Valley receives most of California’s wine attention, the Livermore Valley deserves its own accolades. Not nearly as crowded as its northern wine-growing neighbor, and boasting a multitude of elegant and easily accessible tasting rooms, Livermore delivers a wine tasting experience akin to the uncongested Napa of yesteryear. Next time you’re hosting out of town guests, or need a sunny reprieve, consider heading east and start (and maybe also end) your day at Murrieta’s Well, where their remodeled tasting room and patio set a perfect wine-tasting stage.
The Wente Family has owned the Murrieta’s Well property since 1930 when Louis Mel sold the land to Ernest Wente. In 1990, fourth generation winegrower Philip Wente and his friend Sergio Traverso partnered to revive the winery, named for Joaquin Murrieta who discovered the landmark estate in the 1880’s. A recent renovation of the winery’s historic tasting room has cemented its place as a premier Livermore Valley destination—a casual yet sophisticated spot to enjoy an hour, or an afternoon, of sipping and dining.
Unfettered by the restrictions that prevent Napa wineries from providing food to their guests, Livermore wineries are free to offer a nosh with a sip. At Murrieta’s Well, one can enjoy a glass of their acclaimed estate blends while dining on new menu offerings such as charcuterie and cheeses, baked mac and cheese, shrimp & Dungeness crab roll, eggplant parmesan flatbread, BLT flatbread, or beef short rib and polenta. Each delicious dish is prepared in-house by Wente trained chefs.
Another great Murrieta’s Well surprise is the recent addition of acclaimed winemaker Robbie Meyer who joined the team as Director of Winemaking—a distinct coup for those in the know. Meyer brings to his new position a wealth of wine knowledge; he has worked more than 19 vintages in some of California’s best winegrowing regions, and he makes amazing wine under his own label Peirson Meyer. (If you spy a bottle of his Chardonnay – buy it.) Meyer focuses on small lot harvesting and blending, and blends are what make Murrieta’s Well unique within the industry – their Whip (white blend) and Spur (red blend), both launched in 2010 in celebration of the winery’s 20th anniversary, are industry favorites. All of their wines are crafted to showcase the best of each estate vintage, so their compositions change each year. The grape varieties are sourced exclusively from their estate.
And what a beautiful estate it is. If you’ve never explored the Livermore Valley, you’ll be amazed at the rolling hills, the vines as far as the eye can see, and stunning vistas from the Murrieta’s Well property. Hmmm. Sounds a bit like someplace up North that we all know and love. Catch the enchantment now, before it catches on with the masses.