My Trusty Red Cup

Summer in San Francisco is brutal – ‘nuff said. I was looking for warmth and sun last Sunday and a short drive to it. says Livermore is going to be 85 degrees. I am so there.

And while enjoying the real weather of summer, also checking out one of California oldest wine growing regions. It’s a small one – about 40 wineries.  This post is about 3 of those. This is also about the trusty red cup without which tasting would not be possible.

Fenestra Winery was first where I confronted a dizzying number of wines – 21 to taste. The lady behind the counter provided me with the red cup when I asked for one, You know one of those plastic cups that you use at picnics that holds about 16 oz?

Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Spit.  (Thank you Trusty Red Cup for making the last task more doable.)

What did I take home the 2007 Touriga Nacional (plays a big role in blends for Port but also used for table wine in the Douro and Dão regions of Portugal) and the 2010 Torrontes (Argentina’s white wine grape) What can I say, I am always on the hunt for not-the-usual California varietals to see what wineries can do with them. Pretty nice job.

Up: Thomas Coyne Winery, a homey and friendly joint. Most of the wines were not so memorable except the 2007 Petit Verdot, which is apparently a notoriously temperamental grape) and the 2008 Graciano (ah, but I had better by a Santa Cruz winery –more to come about that). The sig-other wanted the herbaceous PV and so we bought a bottle – I can live with that and maybe pair with rack of lamb. Maybe come back and try their Rhone varietals – we were there for Bordeaux (plus) tasting week. They alternate. Tasting room staff was terrific – I’ll be back.

Fin: The lovely winery on the hill, Bent Creek. Can’t beat the scenery and the scene: on top a tasting room with a lawn with rocking chars and below the quiet gazebo, walk down past all the dashing rabbits.  Livermore is the place where Petite Sirah is king and here that was true, the 2007 Petite Sirah was big but not over the top or one-dimensional, nicely balanced by dust and pepper.

Livermore Valley – history, weather, friendly people, no pretense , no crowds = a place where a geek like me can learn and have fun. Next up there: Steven Kent Winery and Mitchell Katz Winey.

Oh, if I had not been using my trusty red cup, I would have drunk a full bottle of wine – no kidding. Thank you, Big Red!

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