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The Roads Less Traveled Discover Tri-Valley, the Bay Area’s other wine country. By David Armstrong

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PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP) COURTESY OF VISIT TRI-VALLEY, BY TIM TOONEN, AND COURTESY OF VISIT TRI-VALLEY (2)

Clockwise from top: view from Mt. Diablo, winemaker Brent Amos of Las Positas Vineyards in LIvermore,shops in downtown Pleasanton, and yoga paddling on Lake Del Valle


T

ake California sophistication and mix in hometown appeal for a surprising result.

Lovingly tended vineyards and 50-some wineries. Seventeen manicured golf courses. A county fair with enchanting echoes of America’s rural past. Close-knit communities graced

by heritage oaks and restored vintage buildings. Cutting-edge cuisine and one-of-a-kind shops with contemporary flair. Four cities, one town, and three converging valleys. This is the Tri-Valley region of California’s San Francisco Bay Area. Traditionally, the Bay Area is best known for its coastal views and big cities, which include Oakland and San Jose. But off the beaten path, there’s much more to discover. Located on the east side of San Francisco Bay and less than an hour from San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and three major airports, Tri-Valley is a gem hidden in plain sight. The area is easily accessible by car and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains, so it makes an ideal day-trip destination. Lodging includes 36 hotels ranging from national brands to local properties, all with rooms at a variety of price points. I know Tri-Valley’s appeal firsthand. After living in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, I moved to Tri-Valley in 2002. I quickly found plenty to love, starting with the way the area’s ranching and farming past has blended with its smart, contemporary present — all in a handsome landscape of valleys, ridges, creeks, and mountains. Mount Diablo, massive and rugged at 3,849 feet, is Tri-Valley’s physical anchor and defining landmark. Crosshatched with winding roads and hiking and riding trails, it’s a sterling recreational site and lookout yearround, and a sight to behold in any season. In San Francisco, I could see the Pacific from my home office window. But Mount Diablo may

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A ranching and farming past has blended well with a contemporary present.

Clockwise: downtown Pleasanton, Goodguys auto show, biking on the Iron Horse Regional Trail

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House — former home to the Nobel Prize–winning playwright — is one example. Perched in the hills above central Danville, O’Neill lived in the Tao House from 1937 to 1944 and wrote several important dramas there, including The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey into Night. Occasionally, O’Neill’s plays are performed on-property. I am a former theater critic, and one of my most enjoyable times in the theater wasn’t indoors: It was when I saw a staged reading of three O’Neill one-acts in the old barn, as electric fans whirred softly on a warm day. Tri-Valley is passionate about cars, and it’s easy to see why at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum, also located in Danville. All of the roughly 90 classic automobiles on display represent innovations in engineering, design, or performance. Custom hot rods, muscle cars, and rare classics also draw a family-friendly crowd to Danville’s Hot Summer Nights Car Show and the four Goodguys events in Pleasanton. If natural beauty is more your speed, you’ve come to the right place. I like to hike, so I often head straight to Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, a 5,342-acre open space on the steep western slopes of the San Ramon Valley, flanking San Ramon and

(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT) MAP ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES LAISH, BY DICK JONES, COURTESY OF VISIT TRI-VALLEY, BY PAIGE GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY, AND COURTESY VISIT TRI-VALLEY

be even more interesting to gaze upon, as changing weather and clouds play across its surface. Tri-Valley is composed of Livermore, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Dublin, and Danville, my adopted hometown — and home to retired US Airways pilot Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger. These five communities, ranging from 43,000 to 82,000 people, are big enough to generate cultural and commercial critical mass, yet small enough to get your arms around. They are connected by Interstates 680 and 580, and are nestled in the Amador, San Ramon, and Livermore valleys. Livermore Valley helped create California’s wine industry back in the 1840s. In Paris in 1889, pioneering

Livermore winemakers were the first Americans to win a gold medal in a major international competition. Today, wine tasting and touring are eminently available throughout Livermore Valley. Many wineries also serve tapas and expertly prepared meals. Although Sonoma County and Napa Valley are household names, Livermore Valley has a rising reputation among oenophiles, with the bonus of being less crowded and not as costly. Other Tri-Valley attractions are similarly on the cusp of stardom yet remain accessible, affordable, and rarely overrun. The Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site’s restored Tao


Danville. Las Trampas’ trails are also ideal for riding. As with Mount Diablo, when you reach a high point on the tawny hillsides, your huffs and puffs are rewarded with vistas of valleys, towns, and pastureland flecked with cattle, horses, and deer. Less challenging and just as fun is the Iron Horse Regional Trail, a 20-foot-wide paved trail that follows the old Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. A popular spot for dog-walkers, joggers, cyclists, and pram-pushing parents, the Iron Horse Trail threads through Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, and beyond. For more scenic hikes, head just south of Livermore to Lake Del Valle, which also lures swimmers, boaters, and campers. Visitors who want to hit the golf links have abundant and eye-pleasing choices. Australian pro golfer Greg Norman designed the Course at Wente Vineyards, an 18-hole layout in Livermore Valley. And renowned architect Robert Trent Jones designed Dublin Ranch Golf Course in Dublin. Beyond golf, Dublin also hosts a vibrant parade and festival every St. Patrick’s Day, and sweeping valley

views from the Dougherty Hills anytime. Neighboring San Ramon boasts spacious Central Park, a lively complex of soccer fields, softball diamonds, basketball courts, and picnic tables. Shopping and eating are their own kind of sport in Tri-Valley. Livermore Premium Outlets and Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton are the places to go for name-brand goods. Plus, restored historic downtowns in Livermore, Danville, and Pleasanton offer unique local shops along with casual and fine-dining options. In Danville, Bridges serves creative cuisine in an urban-casual setting, and Blue Agave Club, on Pleasanton’s Main Street, offers artisan tequilas alongside modern Mexican cuisine. If you go for comfort more than cutting-edge, you can hardly go wrong at the Alameda County Fair, held in late June and early July in Pleasanton. Gumbo-making and hot dog-eating contests are dished up with steer roping, bronco riding, and horse racing in a family friendly celebration of our not-so-distant agrarian past. Plan to experience all of the area’s charms for yourself at VisitTriValley.com.

Fast Facts ■ Tri-Valley covers 2 counties (Alam-

eda, Contra Costa) and 3 valleys. ■ Includes: Danville, Dublin, Liver-

more, Pleasanton, San Ramon ■ Miles to area airports: Oakland

(OAK) = 26, San Jose (SJC) = 31, San Francisco (SFO) = 46, Sacramento (SMF) = 96 ■ Features 53 wineries, 36 hotels, and

17 golf courses ■ Grapes first planted in Livermore

Valley in 1839 ■ The Livermore Centennial Light

Bulb has been burning for more than 100 years. ■ The Alameda County Fair is home

to the oldest one-mile horse racetrack in the U.S. ■ Playwright Eugene O’Neill’s Danville

home is a National Historic Site. ■ Element 116, Livermorium, was

created at Livermore National Lab. Livermore Centennial Light Bulb

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15 Dante Robere Vineyards ■

california

408.806.0613 danterobere.com 16 Darcie Kent Vineyards ■

925.243.9040 darciekentvineyards.com 17 Eagle Ridge Vineyard ■

925.443.3375 eagleridgevineyard.com 18 Eckert Estate Winery ■

925.371.8606 eckertestate.com 19 Ehrenberg Cellars ■

510.418.8774 ehrenbergcellars.com 20 El Sol Winery ■

925.606.1827 elsolwine.com 21 Elliston Vineyards ■

Sip & Savor Livermore Valley has enjoyed many firsts. Missionaries planted the first grapes in the 1760s, making it one of California’s oldest wine regions. Then the valley captured the first U.S. gold medal for wine at the 1889 Paris Exposition. It was also the state’s first region to label Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, and Sauvignon Blanc as varietals. All this adds up to why the valley should be the first on your list. ■1 3 Steves

8 Caddis Winery ■

925.997.7736 3steveswinery.com 2 3 Steves at Blacksmith Square ■

925.997.7736 3steveswinery.com 925.984.2138 auburnjames.com 4 Bent Creek Winery ■

925.455.6320 bentcreekwinery.com 5 Big White House Winery ■

925.449.1976 bigwhitehouse.com 6 BoaVentura ■

de Caires Winery 925.606.9672 boaventuravineyard.com 7 Bodegas Aguirre Winery ■

and Vineyard 925.606.0554 bodegasaguirre.com

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9 Cedar Mountain Winery* ■

925.373.6636 cedarmountainwinery.com 10 Charles R. Vineyards ■

925.454.3040 charlesrvineyards.com 11 Chouinard Vineyard ■

and Winery 510.582.9900 chouinard.com 12 Concannon Vineyard ■

925.456.2505 concannonvineyard.com 13 Crooked Vine & ■

Stony Ridge Winery 925.449.0458 crookedvine.com 14 Cuda Ridge Winery ■

510.304.0914 cudaridgewines.com/winery

22 Fenestra Winery ■

925.447.5246 fenestrawinery.com 23 Garré Vineyard & Winery (p. 105) ■

925.371.8200 garrewinery.com 24 John Christopher Cellars ■

925.456.9463 johnchristophercellars.com 25 John Evan Cellars ■

925.449.1976 johnevancellars.com 26 La Rochelle Winery ■

925.243.6442 lrwine.com 27 Las Positas Vineyards ■

925.449.9463 laspositasvineyards.com 2 8 Les Chênes Estate Vineyards ■

925.373.1662 leschenesvine.com 29 Lineage Winery ■

925.243.6442 lineagewine.com 30 Longevity Wines ■

888.325.WINE longevitywines.com 31 McGrail Vineyards & Winery (p. 105) ■

925.215.0717 mcgrailvineyards.com 32 Mitchell Katz Winery ■

925.454.9463 mitchellkatzwinery.com 33 Murrieta’s Well ■

925.456.2395 murrietaswell.com 34 Nottingham Cellars (p. 103) ■

925.294.8647 nottinghamcellars.com

PHOTO COURTESY VISIT TRI-VALLEY AND MAP ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES LAISH

3 AuburnJames Winery ■

925.380.6219 caddiswine.com

925.862.2377 elliston.com


35 Occasio Winery ■

41 Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery ■

925.443.1998 rmwinery.com

925.371.1987 occasiowinery.com

925.321.0373 valorwinery.com

42 Rubino Estates Winery ■

36 Page Mill Winery ■

925.484.1699 rubinoestateswinery.com

925.456.7676 pagemillwinery.com 37 Palomares Vineyard ■

43 Ruby Hill Winery ■

925.931.9463 rubyhillwinery.net

510.537.3932 3 8 Red Feather Winery ■

925.243.6442 stevenkent.com

52 White Crane Winery ■

46 Tesla Vintners ■

40 Rios-Lovell Winery ■

925.455.8085 whitecranewinery.com

926.606.9463 teslavintners.com

925.443.0434 rioslovellwinery.com

Winery & Tasting Room (p. 106) 925.456.2305 wentevineyards.com 510.537.3932 westoverwinery.com

925.960.1006 tenutawinery.com

925.447.8941 retzlaffvineyards.com

Tasting Room, Restaurant, Golf & Events Center (p. 106) 925.456.2405 wentevineyards.com

51 Westover Vineyards ■

45 Tenuta Vineyards ■

39 Retzlaff Vineyards ■

49 Wente Vineyards Vineyard ■

50 Wente Vineyards Estate ■

4 4 Steven Kent Winery (p. 104) ■

at El Sacromonte 925.449.1871 con136.wix.com /redfeatherwineryandvineyard

48 Valor Winery ■

47 Thomas Coyne Winery ■

925.373.6541 thomascoynewinery.com

53 Wood Family Vineyards (p. 105) ■

925.606.7411 woodfamilyvineyards.com *no tasting room

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Deep Roots Discover Livermore Valley Wine Country. By Waynette Goodson

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t’s the thrill of every oenophile: impressing friends with interesting regions they may not have explored. Look no further than Livermore Valley Wine Country. Less than an hour from both San Francisco and San Jose, Livermore

Valley boasts more than 50 wineries, from boutique makers bottling just 500 cases per year to industry giants such as Concannon and Wente vineyards. But there’s nothing “new” about this wine country: The first commercial grapes were planted in the 1840s, making it one of California’s oldest wine regions.

925.447.WINE (9463) LVwine.org

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PHOTOS (FROM TOP) BY RODRIGO ALVAREZ AND COURTESY OF STEVEN F. KELLY

Amid the lush rolling hills and vineyards, wine lovers will discover laid-back tasting rooms — the winemaker himself may pour your glass — and tasting fees that average $5–$10, which is quite affordable for awardwinning grapes. Last year valley winemakers took home 145 awards in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, including 26 gold medals. Judges appreciated the elegant red wines with complex fruit character, structured tannins, and a long, pleasant finish. And the white wines are equally balanced, with subtle but intricate flavors. In exciting news for wine connoisseurs, growers have begun working with new grape varieties such as Spanish Tempranillo, Italian Barbera, and Portuguese Touriga. Whatever your tastes, you’ll find events year-round, from the Taste Our Terroir food-and-wine pairing and the Harvest Wine Celebration to Holidays in the Vineyards. But first mark your calendars for the Barrel Tasting weekend next month, when you can sneak a sip of wines that are still in development — straight from the barrel!


Collin Cranor in the barrel room

Youth Movement

Family owned and operated — and not yet five years old! — boutique winery Nottingham Cellars wows the palate. By Brian Cook

I PHOTOS COURTESY OF NOTTINGHAM CELLARS

t’s not easy to get noticed (much less garner critical acclaim) in California’s vast, ultra-competitive wine industry. But one boutique winery, Nottingham Cellars, has done just that in less than five years, and with the youngest commercial winemaker in the Livermore Valley. Moreover, it’s a family business, owned by Jeff and Diane Cranor since its start in the summer of 2009. But you won’t find a vineyard at the Livermore location. Only the production and tasting are done at Nottingham — the grapes come from premier growers in the valley. A visit to the tasting room, where there’s always a Cranor on hand, is akin to stopping by your neighbor’s house. Though here you’ll enjoy sam-

“Premium fruit and premium barrels give Collin the right start toward producing fantastic wines,” says Jeff. “My goal is to find the best grow sites and hone in on their distinctions,” says Collin. “From there, I use different yeasts and fermentation regimens to create complexity within each component. Finally, the wines are aged in a variety of oak barrels. The end result is an abundance of options from which to blend and create distinctive wines.” The name recognizes the valley’s rich history — for a time in the early 19th century, Livermore was called Nottingham — but the winery’s motto is firmly rooted in today: “Fine Living Requires Fine Wine.”

2245-C South Vasco Road Livermore, CA 925.294.8647 nottinghamcellars.com

ples of award-winning, handcrafted varietal reds and whites, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Overseeing the winemaking: the Cranors’ 27-year-old son, Collin, whose “mature palate,” as Diane calls it, helps him create first-rate products.

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Proud Legacy only 5 percent of the estate’s production — and offered in limited release. Lineage has been praised by the likes of Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazine as one of the best wines in Livermore Valley. The accolades make sense when you find out that Mirassou represents the sixth generation of the region’s oldest winemaking family (the inspiration behind the name Lineage). But he didn’t always know he would carry on the family tradition. “I came back to the winery in my late twenties and fell in love with the business,” Mirassou says. “I felt that this was the best place for me to channel my passion and talents.” To experience the winemaker’s passion firsthand, visit the winery for a tasting. It’s open daily, offering an intimate experience hosted by a knowledgeable staff member and, sometimes, even Mirassou himself.

Steven Kent Winery produces some of Livermore Valley’s best. By Ivy Lamb

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Steven Kent Mirassou

PHOTOS COURTESY OF STEVEN KENT WINERY

L

ong before California wines gained international recognition, Livermore Valley was producing some of the state’s best Bordeaux-style wines as early as 1880. At Steven Kent Winery, they aim to carry on that tradition.

It all starts with the land. Located in the upper Livermore Valley just 45 minutes from San Francisco, the vineyard’s climate and soil are similar to France’s famed Bordeaux wine region. The small operation, run by vintner and owner Steven Kent Mirassou, turns out roughly 6,000 cases of high-quality wine every year. Mirassou’s technique truly shines in Lineage, a Cabernet Sauvignon–based blend created from the finest barrels every year — usually

Steven Kent Winery 5443 Tesla Road Livermore Valley, CA 925.243.6442 stevenkentportfolio.com


Grape Events Since the 1930s, the Garré family has been making wine of every varietal from Chardonnay to Touriga. And now it’s about to make an even bigger name for itself as the wedding venue in the valley. The new Bella Rosa at Garré Vineyards combines old world Italian charm with a stateof-the-art space accommodating 370 guests. The winery will provide an on-site wedding coordinator to help brides and grooms plan their dream destination wedding. And it’s all in keeping with the Garré family toast, “A glass from the past, a toast to the future.” (garrewinery.com, 925.371.8200)

Best Red There are two main reasons to visit McGrail Vineyards: an award-winning Cabernet and stunning views of the valley. In 2012, the McGrails’ Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve took home the “Best Red in the U.S.” award from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. You can taste for yourself at the hilltop tasting room, complete with two big-screen TVs on either side of the granite bar and a patio with 360-degree valley views. Amid the friendly pourers, you might even meet owners Jim and Ginger McGrail or one of their daughters. Cheers! (925.215.0717, mcgrailvineyards.com)

Valley of the Grapes TOP PHOTO BY ANZALONE PHOTOGRAPHY AND MIDDLE PHOTO BY CHOCOSTUDIO.COM

Livermore Valley Wine Country is closer than you think — less than an hour from all three Bay Area airports. By Waynette Goodson ➺

Yen for Zinfandel A former US Airways pilot, Rhonda Wood exchanged aerodynamics for viticulture. In 1996, she and her husband, Michael, bought a vineyard in Livermore Valley and built their dream home. Rhonda started making wine and bonded their winery, Wood Family Vineyards, in 2001. That same year, she took a leave of absence from the airline to expand the winery and stay home with her family. Today the Woods are best known for their Zinfandels, and they make seven different varietals — all from Livermore Valley grapes! (925.606.7411, woodfamilyvineyards.com)

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Family Tradition Wente Vineyards excels at winemaking — and hospitality. By Ellie Baldini

I

t’s morning at Wente Vineyards, and crisp fog is clinging to the curved hillsides, swirling around the grapes and preserving their natural acidity.

Livermore Valley Wine Country is known for a Mediterranean-like climate, thanks to the nearby Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Gap. Chilly mornings melt into sunny, breezy afternoons — the perfect conditions for grape maturation.

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The Wente family is as much a part of the landscape as the shady oak trees and rich soil; this is the country’s oldest, continuously operated and family owned winery, and their ancestors have been winemakers for generations. C.H. Wente purchased 48 acres in Livermore Valley one hundred and thirty years ago, and fourth and fifth generations still cherish the land. Today, the Wente family manages the vineyards and winemaking operations, and oversees an award-winning restaurant, renowned concert series, unmatched catering and events, and Greg Norman-designed golf course. The vineyards themselves reflect California’s diverse topography.

Because Livermore Valley has such varied soil, microclimates exist throughout the family’s 2,000 acres of sustainably farmed estate vineyards. “Our vineyards’ incredibe diversity allows us to cultivate wines with unique characteristics that tell the story of where they came from,” says Phillip Wente, Fourth Generation Winegrower. 2014 marks one hundred and two years since the Wente family brought Chardonnay cuttings from France and planted them in the Valley. Today the Wente clones are the most widely planted clones of Chardonnay in California. Plan a trip to the Livermore Valley and be sure to stop by Wente Vineyards to taste their selection of estate grown, sustainably farmed wines. Choose from Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and many more, or sample their handcrafted, limited production The Nth Degree wines. When it comes to production, the


PHOTOS COURTESY OF WENTE VINEYARDS

Wentes follow a fusion of technology and tradition. In the 1960s, Karl L. Wente adopted stainless steel fermentation. Today, the family preserves successful techniques, without shying away from new ones. Sustainability is a priority, too: In 2010, Wente Vineyards was among the first wineries to receive the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing designation, and one of the only wineries to certify every component of its business. “There is no separation between what happens in our vineyards and what takes place in our winery,” says Karl D. Wente, Fifth Generation winemaker. “Our first priority is growing grapes that have the potential to become excellent wines. We then tailor our methods in the winery to preserve the delicate flavors in the fruit.” Since the Wente family introduced the first varietally labeled wines in the 1930s, innovation has been a hallmark of their operations. Karl Wente is

There is no separation between what happens in our vineyards and what takes place in our winery. currently working with over 30 cultivars, pursuing viticulture excellence. You can experience the storied history and modern magic at both of Wente Vineyards’ Tasting Rooms. Tour the winery and caves, enjoy public and private tastings, and stop by the gift shop, chock full of gourmet food and wine goods. The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, recently awarded the 2013 Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence, offers California-Mediterranean cuisine using locally grown organic ingredients. The Concerts at Wente Vineyards draw world-class

Clockwise from top left: Wente Vineyards was named 2011 American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast; the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards; the Wente family; the Course at Wente Vineyards; the event center building

performers (think Sheryl Crow and Foreigner). And don’t forget to book a tee-time at The Course, a rambling par-72 challenge. There’s so much to do at Wente Vineyards. But if relaxing with a glass of 2012 The Nth Degree Chardonnay while gazing out over the rolling hills is more your speed, you’re in good company. Savor the ripe notes of apple and apricot, the hints of graham, nutmeg and clove, followed by a smooth finish. You’re sipping California’s best.

5565 Tesla Road 5050 Arroyo Road Livermore, CA 925.456.2300 wentevineyards.com

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Eats and Treats

From top: downtown Livermore, Zachary’s Chicago Pizza in San Ramon

rench cuisine and folk art. Quaint downtowns and outdoor plazas. Tri-Valley is ripe for foodies and shoppers.

To sample the region’s best attractions, start in downtown Livermore, where whimsical shops and eateries like the Roadside Relics antique and candy store or the Casse-Croute Bakery (“little sandwich” in French) please shoppers and foodies alike. History buffs appreciate the architectural details found at Blacksmith Square, originally a 19th-century metal forge. In downtown Pleasanton, the American Harvest store boasts folk art collectibles perfect for a cozy cottage (or wherever you want to perch them!). And the neighboring Baci Bistro and

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Bar serves up tender steak and Italian seafood, perfectly suited for a glass (or bottle) from the extensive wine list. For casual fare, there’s Zachary’s Chicago Pizza in San Ramon, a Bay Area favorite popular for its awardwinning, two-layer stuffed pizza and walls adorned with customer artwork. Ready for some serious shopping? Discover the boutique treasures to be found in downtown Danville, and then check out Blackhawk Plaza, an outdoor retail paradise with flowing fountains and streams. Afterward, try the Blackhawk Grille, which serves up classic

creations like gourmet mac and cheese. If your taste buds are craving something more adventurous, try Ulferts Center in Dublin, the ultimate TriValley ethnic food destination. Within a single shopping center, Asian-food lovers can choose Japanese at Osaka Ramen, Chinese at Koi Palace Seafood and Dim Sum, or Sri Lankan at Serendipity by Kadupul. Stroll a tree-lined avenue, shop in the shadow of a mountain, or savor an exotic dish — when it comes to shopping and dining in the Tri-Valley, you’re guaranteed an adventure.

PHOTOS (FROM TOP) COURTESY OF CITY OF LIVERMORE AND ZACHARY’S CHICAGO PIZZA

F

By Ellie Baldini


Big Names — and Savings At Livermore Premium Outlets, the (bargain) hunt is on. By Ellie Baldini

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arrie Bradshaw famously quipped, “Shopping is my cardio.” And while retail-browsing may not prepare you for your next half marathon, the designer brands at Livermore Premium Outlets are sure to raise your heart rate. Just 36 miles outside San Francisco along I-580, this 512,000-square-foot outdoor shopping center debuted in late 2012 to much fanfare: 350,000 visitors

attended the opening weekend alone. “It exceeded our expectations,” Director of Marketing and Business Development Dave Ackerman told the Oakland Tribune. “We were overwhelmed by the wonderful response. We knew people were ready in this market, and we were delighted by the turnout.” Stroll through one of the centrally located outdoor entranceways and enjoy the California sunshine as you peruse 130 leading designer and brandname stores. The center’s motto? “Legendary brands, abundant selection,

real savings.” Anchor stores include Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, and California’s only Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store. Luxe brands like Armani, Coach, and Burberry all have freestanding stores, as do J.Crew and Banana Republic. And the only Kate Spade outlet in Northern California is here, another popular favorite. When you’ve shopped ’til you’re ready to drop, enjoy a variety of on-site dining options. And at the end of your shopping extravaganza, you’ll find you’re only minutes from many of the best Tri-Valley attractions including vineyards, parks, and major cities. But when you’re in need of some retail, er, cardio once more, Livermore Premium Outlets is right around the corner. Get that heart racing!

Interstate 580, El Charro Rd. Exit Livermore, CA 94551 925.292.2868 premiumoutlets.com/livermore

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIVERMORE PREMIUM OUTLETS

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The Great Outdoors Roam from the heights of Mt. Diablo to the shores of Lake Del Valle. By Wes Isley

A

cres of rolling hills, trails, parks, and open spaces blanket the Amador, Livermore, and San Ramon valleys.

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winery next door. Hike or bike up the 3,849-foot Mt. Diablo, Tri-Valley’s signature landmark and an ecological treasure located adjacent to the town of Danville. Make stops to marvel at the rock formations and colorful wildflowers. At the Diablo Valley Overlook, you can see all the

way to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day. On the other side of Danville, discover the rugged beauty of the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. Ride horseback, hike, or bike along ridges dotted with black sage, chamise, and buckbrush. Pick up the paved Iron Horse Regional Trail and follow it through San Ramon and into Dublin. This multi-use trail will eventually stretch 55 miles and connects residential and commercial areas with parks and the BART public transportation system. For a bird’s-eye view of Pleasanton, climb the trails within Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park. Its 5,271 acres are covered in oaks and carved with deep canyon streams. Want to get your feet wet? Head south of Livermore to Lake Del Valle, ideal for swimming, kayaking, or boating. Fishermen love it for the trout, catfish, and striped bass. Surrounded by the 4,395-acre Del Valle Regional Park, the lake is yet another Tri-Valley recreational gem.

PHOTOS (FROM TOP) BY WILLIAM F. HACKETT, COURTESY OF VISIT TRI-VALLEY, PAIGE GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY

And enjoying the must-see scenery is easy with a variety of ways to play. Some of the area’s 17 golf courses wind through carefully tended vineyards and offer beautiful views from clubhouse restaurants. Plus, that glass of wine you raise to celebrate your hole-in-one likely came from the


Nature in Balance

Wintry vineyards and open spaces, and (below) Livermore Valley Uncorked winners

Tri-Valley Conservancy supports local while thinking big. By Wes Isley

F PHOTOS (FROM TOP) BY EARLE C. ISPEN, LAWRENCE PIGGINS, AND SUSAN C. GERBER

ew California wine destinations can boast an eight-mile trail through 1,900 acres of protected land, but the Tri-Valley Conservancy makes it possible. Ideal for hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders, the trail leads to Sycamore Grove Park in Livermore and will soon connect to the larger Bay Area trail network.

The only nationally accredited land trust located in Alameda County, the Conservancy works to enhance the Tri-Valley quality of life by preserving local open spaces and agricultural lands. Since 1993, the nonprofit has acquired nearly 4,300 acres through conservation easements or purchases, with the majority encompassing Tri-Valley vineyards as well as olive, pomegranate, and pistachio farms. According to executive director Laura Mercier, this amounts to a $70 million economic impact that sustainably protects food sources, jobs, recreation, and the environment. The Conservancy showcases area vineyards with its annual Livermore Valley Uncorked competition, open only to wines made from locally grown grapes. “We make some great wine here, and people need to come for a sample,” Mercier says. Set for March 12–13, 2014, at Ruby Hill Winery’s Casa Real in Pleasanton, the competition selects the best of Tri-Valley wine. A 20-member panel of winemakers, sommeliers, and critics

judges more than 30 entries, all vying for awards like Best Sauvignon Blanc, Best Cabernet, and Best of Show. Those bragging rights represent excellence for area winemakers and reflect the Tri-Valley Conservancy’s commitment to preserving the region’s quality of life for future generations.

1457 First Street Livermore, CA 925.449.8706 TriValleyConservancy.org

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Performance Tour

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By Ivy Lamb

hat pairs best with a fine Tri-Valley wine? A ticket to any of the region’s performing arts venues.

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Ramon Symphonic Band. The Village Theater and Art Gallery in Danville, built as a farmer’s lodge in 1873, now hosts plays, live music, film screenings, and as many as seven rotating art exhibits per year focused on contemporary Bay Area artists. The Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton also boasts a creatively repurposed space: a former fire station transformed into a state-of-the-art theater and gallery.

PHOTO COURTESY OF VISIT TRI-VALLEY

Culture hounds have their pick of local acts as well as the Bay Area’s top professional companies. Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center draws artists and ensembles from around the world to its 500-seat Bankhead Theater, while Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center in San Ramon enlivens the community with national touring productions, improv comedy, children’s theater, and local groups such as the San

No cultural scene is complete without the symphony and the opera, and Tri-Valley has both. The LivermoreAmador Symphony, a community orchestra in residence at the Bankhead Theater, plays popular works ranging from Beethoven to Gershwin. The Livermore Valley Opera enchants audiences with professional productions of classics such as Rossini’s Cinderella and Bizet’s Carmen. During the summer, Livermore Shakespeare Festival stages the Bard’s most beloved plays in the picturesque Concannon Vineyard — picnicking is strongly encouraged. With so much to do, Tri-Valley promises to enlighten and entertain all year long.


Where the Art Is

W PHOTOS (FROM TOP) COURTESY OF LIVERMORE ARTS AND BY GREGG LEBLANC

hat began as a sleepy ranching community of 4,400 residents in 1950 has grown into Livermore, a city of more than 80,000 residents with an impressive array of performing and visual arts groups, historical organizations, and other cultural attractions. Great unifying forces contributed to Livermore’s development: The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Sandia National Laboratory drew intelligent, community-minded people who craved a city with culture. In 1966, a handful of groups formed the Livermore Cultural Arts Council (LCAC). Today, it has expanded to 27 members devoted to classical music, dance, theater, and the visual arts. In 1999, the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC) was born.

Explore the best of Livermore culture.

music), Livermore-Amador Symphony, Livermore Valley Opera, Pacific Chamber Symphony, Rae Dorough Speakers Series, Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre, and Valley Dance Theatre. The theater also hosts visiting Bay Area ensembles, including the Lamplighters Music Theatre, Chanticleer, Smuin Ballet, and Philharmonia Baroque, and internationally known artists such as Bernadette Peters, Julie Collins, Arlo Guthrie, the Capitol Steps, and Paula Poundstone.

Students visit each year for programs like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s “Science on Saturday.” LVPAC’s goal is to provide arts, entertainment, and educational activities for the entire community. mylvpac.com

Bothwell Arts Center Increasing diversity in the Tri-Valley region caught the attention of the Cheza Nami Foundation, an LCAC member. Artists

From top: Cheza Nami performers and a Livermore Shakespeare Festival production

Bankhead Theater LVPAC opened the 507-seat Bankhead Theater in October 2007, realizing the arts community’s dream: a space hosting several artistic venues in one beautiful location. Now it’s home to the area’s finest performing arts organizations: Del Valle Fine Arts (chamber usairwaysmag.com

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expose students to African culture through interactive assemblies of dance, music, games, wordplay, and instruments at the LVPAC’s Bothwell Center. The New Orleans Bash is an annual event, held the Friday before Mardi Gras. livermoreperformingarts.org

Shakespeare’s Associates Another LCAC member, Livermore Shakespeare Festival will present Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (June 19–July 20) in an idyllic setting: the tranquil Concannon Vineyard, with a Queen Anne–style Victorian home serving as stage. livermoreshakes.org

Historic Carnegie Library Building Two LCAC member organizations are located in the Carnegie Library Building. The Livermore Art Association Gallery was founded in 1957, and features work by local artists and artisans: painting, photography, woodcarving, pottery, fabric art, and jewelry. livermoreartassociation.org

The Livermore Heritage Guild maintains a History Center there as well. Visitors get a taste of the city’s past with photographs, memorabilia, oral and written histories, and a bookstore. The Guild also owns the

Duarte Garage, established in 1915 as a way station on the old Lincoln Highway (the first transcontinental highway). The restored garage and Lincoln Highway Museum is now open to visitors. livermorehistory.com

Clockwise from top: the Bankhead Theater, the Carnegie Library Building, and the Duarte Garage

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIVERMORE ARTS

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Relax and Renew

The Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort and Spa is a peaceful retreat to the valley.

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By Meghan Modafferi

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE PURPLE ORCHID RESORT & SPA

lose your eyes and imagine an aromatherapy massage made specifically for you. Outside your window are rolling hills and olive trees, a rose garden, and an outdoor pool. You can hear the soothing sounds of a waterfall nearby. Imagine all this, plus breakfast made from scratch using fresh, seasonal ingredients and cooked with handcrafted olive oil made on site. The Purple Orchid Resort and Spa is much more than your average hotel experience. In any of the ten modern-country rooms, you can warm your hands by the fireplace or your whole body in a private Jacuzzi. Later, you can socialize with new friends or old in one of the resort’s many common spaces. During the daily gathering hour, enjoy an

olive-oil tasting and locally-made wine. The Purple Orchid is not only for faraway travelers. “Our guests travel distances from three miles to halfway around the world,” says owner Rhiannon Eddy. As the only independent resort in Alameda County, it’s a unique

property. A 24-acre olive orchard and dozens of nearby vineyards adds to the charm and luxury. Stunning scenery and mild California temperatures make wine country a great destination for weddings and events. That’s why many couples say “I do” here among the roses, fountains, and olive trees. In 2012, the Purple Orchid was given a makeover on Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible. Less than a year later, the resort was named a Gold Medal Accommodation by Touring & Tasting magazine. And Travel Channel came back, but this time, all they found was success — and lots of happy guests.

Purple Orchid Resort & Spa 4549 Cross Road Livermore, CA 925.606.8855 purpleorchid.com

In-room Jacuzzi

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Be Our Guest

Want riding lessons or a little Shakespeare? You’ll be close to all the action with these convenient lodging choices. By Meghan Modafferi Marriott Pleasanton

Comfort Inn comfortinn.com

Sweet Dreams

Courtyard by Marriott marriott.com Doubletree by Hilton doubletree3.hilton.com Extended Stay America extendedstayamerica.com Hampton Inn Livermore staylivermore.com

Best Western Sycamore Inn, Danville

Danville

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Best Western Sycamore Inn danvillesycamoreinn.com

Hyatt Place place.hyatt.com

Dublin

La Quinta Inn & Suites laquintadublinpleasanton.com

Extended Stay America extendedstayamerica.com

Livermore

Holiday Inn Dublin trivalleyhotel.com

Best Western Vineyard Inn bestwestern.com

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PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT) COURTESY OF VISIT TRI-VALLEY (4), COURTESY OF MARRIOTT SAN RAMON, COURTESY OF MARRIOTT PLEASANTON

Marriott San Ramon


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hether you’re seeking bargain comfort or upscale style, Tri-Valley offers accommodations that please every palate.

And no matter where you unpack, you’re never far from the area’s vineyards, golf courses, hiking trails, restaurants, shops, and other attractions. Friendly and courteous staff look after more than 4,600 hotel rooms across 20 name-brand options throughout the Tri-Valley hubs of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon. You’ll find suites for a romantic honeymoon, extended-stay properties ideal for business travelers, and plenty of options for families. With amenities that often include continental breakfasts, the comforts of home are always at your fingertips. Many hotel packages and specials

Four Points by Sheraton, Pleasanton

offer a taste of Tri-Valley culture. The Holiday Inn in Dublin has a Shop ’Til You Drop package, which provides a reusable green shopping bag stuffed with coupons for the nearby Stoneridge Shopping Mall. Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in Livermore offers a Shakespeare in the Vineyards package for guests who enjoy pairing great wine with great theater. And golfers often choose the Hilton Pleasanton at the Club for its Hole in One special, the perfect package for a sports getaway. Meanwhile, families love Picnic in the Park at the Courtyard by Marriott in San Ramon. And there’s quick and

Springtown Inn 925.449.2211

Pleasanton Best Western Pleasanton Inn bestwestern.com Courtyard by Marriott marriott.com Extended Stay Deluxe extendedstayamerica.com Four Points by Sheraton fourpointspleasanton.com Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham hotellivermore.com

Hilton Pleasanton at the Club hilton.com

Hilton Garden Inn Livermore hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com

Hyatt House (see page 118) pleasanton.house.hyatt.com

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites ihg.com/holidayinnexpress

Larkspur Landing Hotel larkspurhotels.com

La Quinta Inn laquintalivermore.com

Marriott Pleasanton (see page 119) marriottpleasanton.com

Motel 6 motel6.com

Motel 6 Pleasanton motel6.com

Quality Inn & Suites qualityinn.com

Residence Inn by Marriott marriott.com

Residence Inn by Marriott marriott.com

Sheraton Pleasanton sheratonpleasanton.com

Residence Inn by Marriott, Livermore

easy access to Las Trampas Stables for horseback riding lessons if you’re staying at the Best Western Sycamore Inn in Danville. However you spend your time in Tri-Valley, expect your lodging to provide convenience and comfort — with a big dose of culture to boot!

San Ramon Courtyard by Marriott marriott.com Extended Stay America Bishop Ranch East extendedstayamerica.com Extended Stay America Bishop Ranch West extendedstayamerica.com Hyatt House sanramon.house.hyatt.com Marriott San Ramon (see page 119) marriott.com Residence Inn by Marriott marriott.com

Hyatt Place, Dublin

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Settle In At the Hyatt House in Pleasanton

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By Ivy Lamb

pacious suites with full kitchens and comfy living rooms — the Hyatt House in Pleasanton makes guests feel right at home.

Located near Oakland International Airport, the newly renovated hotel features one- and two-bedroom residential-style suites ideal for business travelers and vacationers who like to spread out. The kitchens are fully equipped, and each living room has a sofa and 37-inch flat-screen TV. The bedrooms provide a private, restful haven so you’ll fall asleep with all the comforts of home.

The amenities help you keep up your everyday lifestyle. There’s a 24hour market on-site, dry cleaning and laundry services, and free high-speed wireless access throughout the hotel. Exercise devotees don’t have to interrupt their routine thanks to the fitness center, outdoor pool, and sport court. And as a special service for long-term guests, the Hyatt offers complimentary grocery shopping.

Hyatt House Pleasanton 4545 Chabot Drive Pleasanton, CA 925.730.0070 pleasanton.house.hyatt.com

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE HYATT HOUSE PLEASANTON

The hotel also provides a complimentary hot breakfast every morning, with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast, waffles, and an omelet station. In the evenings, the H Bar helps guests unwind with beer, wine, and cocktails. The menu of small bites includes crowd-pleasers like tomato mozzarella bread and a cheese and fruit plate. Plus, there are a ton of great dining options nearby in Pleasanton. Best of all, four-legged companions are welcome too, thanks to the hotel’s pet-friendly policy. It’s just one of the many ways that the Hyatt House makes you feel as if you’ve found your true home away from home.


➺ Bishop Grill & Bar at Marriott San Ramon

Perfect Mix Comfort meets productivity at the Marriott San Ramon and Marriott Pleasanton. By Meghan Modafferi

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARRIOTT

Marriott Pleasanton For a comfortable and productive stay, the Marriott Pleasanton strikes the right balance. With flat-screen TVs and high-speed Internet, decadent bedding and cozy workspaces, you’ll be all set to take care of business, play, and relax. Guests are sure to enjoy the old world charm of downtown Pleasanton, and special offers from the Marriott Pleasanton sweeten the deal. A shopping package promises savings at the nearby Stoneridge shopping mall, and couples love the romance of the Wine and Dine deal. With the BART station nearby, it’s easy to get to San Francisco for a bigger city scene. And the San Francisco Day package, which provides tickets, guidebooks, and more, is a travel companion well worth having.

Whether your nose is to the grindstone or you’re seeking repose, the Marriott Pleasanton is for you, the modern urban traveler.

Marriott San Ramon Who says traveling for business has to feel like work? At the Marriott San Ramon, guests feel like they’re on a retreat — no matter their reason for visiting. Surrounded by majestic redwoods, the hotel has a relaxed, park-like feel. Its upscale fitness center and modern meeting spaces keep businesspeople busy. Meanwhile, pleasure-seekers love the nearby restaurants and wineries, and VIP savings at the East Bay Outlet. Guests relax by hiking the popular Iron Horse Trail, wine tasting, and playing golf or tennis. When they’ve worked up an appetite, there’s fresh, seasonal California cuisine and a cozy outdoor fire pit at the hotel’s brand-new Bishop Grill & Bar. And with easy access to San Francisco from the BART station, the travel possibilities are endless. Marriott San Ramon 2600 Bishop Drive San Ramon, CA 800.228.9290 sanramonmarriott.com

Marriott Pleasanton 11950 Dublin Canyon Road Pleasanton, CA 800.627.7468 marriottpleasanton.com Marriott Pleasanton

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Hometown Charm

Danville, California, is a little place with a big heart. By David Armstrong

mall-town atmosphere, outstanding quality of life. Danville’s slogan summons its spirit and evokes its aspirations.

Take a spin around this pretty and prosperous town of 43,000 situated at the foothills of Mt. Diablo, and you’ll find Danville lives up to its mantra.

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In the 1850s, Danville was a hamlet of blacksmith shops, feed stores, warehouses, and a hotel. The residents lived in a sprinkling of houses bordered by

farms and ranches, and crossed by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Danville is no longer a hamlet, but despite years of diversification and growth, its charm remains. Today, the town is home to the sleek “rolling sculptures” showcased in the Smithsonianaffiliated Blackhawk Automotive Museum and noted residents like retired US Airways pilot Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger. Thousands of visitors come year-round to tour the


PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) BY PAIGE GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF TOWN OF DANVILLE, BY PAIGE GREEN, BY KEVIN WONG, AND BY PAIGE GREEN

restored Tao House, once home to Nobel Prize–winning playwright Eugene O’Neill. Interstate 680 has replaced the railroad, putting Danville within easy driving distance of both the San Francisco and Oakland international airports. Danville straddles busy I-680, and its preserved and renovated downtown lies just west of the freeway off Diablo Road. A 350-year-old valley oak tree in the center of the road is a living symbol of the community’s historic roots. There’s definitely a “there” there. Downtown bristles with things to see and do, and plenty of free parking makes it easy to discover the charms of this neighborhood on foot. For an entertaining and informative outing, join a historic walking tour offered by the Museum of the San Ramon Valley. The museum itself is located in the yellow former Danville Depot, an 1891

building on the National Register of Historic Places. Several downtown establishments have thrived for generations. Elliott’s Bar, on Hartz Avenue, has been pouring drinks for Danvillians and their tippling pals since 1907. It’s a friendly, funky hole-in-the-wall, with a big American flag displayed outside. The recently rebuilt and expanded Veterans’ Memorial Building lies directly in downtown’s historic heart. This is a prime viewing spot for Danville’s popular Fourth of July parade, which draws up to 30,000 celebrants annually. The town often closes Hartz Avenue in the summer for other well-attended street fairs and car shows. Vally Medlyn’s, a 1950s coffee shop, diner, and community meeting spot, is another popular old-timer. The familyrun, budget-friendly restaurant serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

Clockwise from left: Sideboard Neighborhood Kitchen and Coffee Bar, Danville Chocolates, Fourth of July parade, The Vine at Bridges, and a car show on Hartz Avenue

Like many other Danville favorites, Vally Medlyn’s is dog-friendly, often putting a water dish and dog biscuits on the sidewalk for man’s best friend. The always-comfortable Best Western Danville also accommodates hotel guests traveling with pooches. In recent years, downtown’s quaint, wood-frame buildings and safe, clean streets have morphed into a sophisticated shopping and dining destination. Contemporary Danville boasts some

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Clockwise from top: view of Mt. Diablo, the Cottage Jewel, Piatti Italian Restaurant and Bar, and shops at Prospector Square

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adjacent to bustling Hartz Avenue, is the locals’ fine-dining choice. Next door, The Vine at Bridges offers wine, small plates (from Bridges’ menu), and live music. Many Danville restaurants add outdoor seating in good weather, typically nine or ten months a year. Boutiques also brighten Danville’s dining and shopping offerings. Cottage Jewel, which has thrived downtown for more than a decade, carries repurposed antiques and craft works such as jewelry made from heirloom buttons and purses fashioned from vintage lace and tapestry. Browse one-of-a-kind shops

at nearby Prospector Square, and keep an eye out for the mail slot and other reminders of the site’s beginnings as Danville’s first post office. The small-town atmosphere and outstanding quality of life bring visitors to Danville, sometimes to stay. “I’ve been here 22 years,’’ says Cottage Jewel’s owner, Marcia Harmon. “This community, it’s important to me. It’s my home.’’

Town of Danville 925.314.3369 danville.ca.gov shopdanvillefirst.com

Discover Danville Association 925.339.8330 DiscoverDanvilleCA.com

PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP) BY CANDICE RANA, COURTESY OF TOWN OF DANVILLE, BY PAIGE GREEN, AND BY CANDICE RANA

80 dining establishments, most independently owned. Prime eateries purchase fresh ingredients from local providers and the year-round Saturday farmers’ market. “It’s exciting to see the owners of restaurants like Sideboard, Piatti’s, and The Peasant and The Pear sourcing their produce from our farmers’ market and from other growers in the region,’’ says Jill Bergman, Economic Development Manager for the Town of Danville. “The AuburnJames Wine Tasting Room, run by Livermore’s Auburn James Winery, cross-markets with Danville Chocolates to produce port wine truffles using their wine.’’ Indeed, if you’re a chocoholic, Danville Chocolates will hit the sweet spot. Don’t miss their handmade, buttery, chocolate-covered English toffee. Sideboard Neighborhood Kitchen and Coffee Bar offers rustic comfort food, organic when possible, with changing daily specials. Bridges,


JUNE

Livermore Rodeo Since 1918, cowpokes have saddled up for events including steer wrestling, barrel racing, and bull and bronc riding. There’s even a timed wild cow milking contest and a Miss Livermore Rodeo Queen. SEPTEMBER

Caledonian Scottish Games More than 30,000 spectators flock to Pleasanton every year in tartans and kilts to celebrate their Scottish heritage through archery, bagpipes, clan reunions, falconry, Highland dancing, and tossing the hammer, stone, or caber.

Livermore Rodeo

Great Dates

Explore all there is to do in California’s Tri-Valley.

The hills and valleys are alive with activity year-round, and we’ve selected ten popular happenings to help you plan your trip. For details on these and other events — from farmers’ markets and street parties to fashion shows and half marathons — check out VisitTriValley.com.

Art & Wind Festival, San Ramon

even bottled. Savor tastings right out of the barrel, meet winemakers, and enjoy special events at more than 30 participating wineries.

SEPTEMBER

Eugene O’Neill Festival The playwright’s historic Tao House and downtown Danville host an entire month of staged productions, lectures, musical performances, and other programs inspired by O’Neill’s work. SEPTEMBER

Harvest Wine Celebration Labor Day weekend is the peak of harvest season and the perfect time for tastings at more than 40 Livermore Valley wineries. Expect special activities, discounts, and a souvenir wine glass. OCTOBER

Pirates of Emerson For more than 20 years, this haunted theme park has risen from the Alameda County Fairgrounds to deliver frightful delights. Costumed pirates, creepy clowns, and ghastly ghouls spook visitors in six thrilling attractions.

MARCH

St. Patrick’s Day Festival Throw on a wee bit o’ green and celebrate all things Irish — in Dublin, California. Enjoy a pint of Guinness with fish and chips, traditional dances and folk music, Celtic gifts and clothing, plus carnival rides. MAY MARCH, JUNE, AUGUST, NOVEMBER

PHOTOS COURTESY OF VISIT TRI-VALLEY

Goodguys Get-Together & West Coast Nationals (August) Rev your motors with four weekends of this popular automotive show featuring all makes and models, from restored classic cars to tricked-out custom hot-rods, at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. MARCH Livermore Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend Pre-purchase some of the valley’s best wines before they’re

Art & Wind Festival Colorful kites and hot-air balloons fill the sky over San Ramon’s Central Park for this familyfriendly outing featuring professional kite-flying demonstrations, puppet shows, arts and crafts, and more. JUNE & JULY

Alameda County Fair Step right up to fair favorites like roller coasters and a log flume, cotton candy and corn dogs, pig races and a kissing contest, exhibits and live music — and, of course, fireworks.

Caledonian Scottish Games, Pleasanton

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Plenty to Do in Dublin Ice skaters, motorcyclists, and even leprechauns will find something to love.

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By David Armstrong

reen eggs, green pancakes, and up to 80 floats. Tri-Valley’s Irish heritage is on full display every March in Dublin, California.

Named for the Irish capital, this city of 50,000 knows how to do St. Patrick’s Day right with its annual two-day festival. And the remaining 363 days

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of the year bring fun and leisure, too. Think shopping, dining, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, trampolining, and ice-skating.

“Dublin is a good family destination,’’ says Linda Smith, the city’s economic development director. “It has great hiking trails for all ages. From the hillside trails at the west end of Dublin Boulevard, you can see the San Francisco skyline.’’ One of the most pleasant surprises about Dublin, Smith says, is its range of dining options, from hole-in-thewall haunts to international food stops.


Clockwise from far left: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, hillside hiking, Emerald Glen Park, and Irish step dancing

PHOTOS COURTESY OF CITY OF DUBLIN

“Yanagi Sushi & Grill is a fun teppanyaki (iron griddle) experience,’’ says Smith. “For authentic Afghan food, there’s Khyber Pass or Pamir. For an intimate steakhouse experience, check out McNamara’s Restaurant.’’ For Taiwanese, Smith recommends SnowFlake in the Ulferts Center, serving up desserts, crepes, and other sweet treats. A special “snack menu” is available from 3 to 6 p.m., and make

sure to try the traditional Taiwanese shaved ice. “These are unique restaurants you don’t usually find in a suburban environment,’’ she says. Of course, there’s more to do than eat in Dublin. Shopping is a major draw. The modern Hacienda Crossings Shopping Center doubles as an entertainment complex, home to the Regal Stadium 21 and Tri-Valley’s only IMAX theater, as well as enticing

restaurants, shops, and services. In the Village Green Shopping Center, the quirky Antiques and Eclectika is filled with costume jewelry, vintage clothing, tableware, furnishings, and more. Retail meets recreation at Arlen Ness Motorcycles, where exotic and custom motorcycles like the Ferrari Bike adorn the showroom. If you want to provide the locomotion yourself, visit Dublin Cyclery, in business since 1965. Sports enthusiasts can test their skating chops at Dublin Iceland Ice Skating — but prepare for stiff competition. “Brian Boitano got his start there,’’ notes Paul McCreary, the city’s parks and community services director. Other competitive skaters including Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudy Galindo have trained here, too. If you prefer sneakers to skates, Dublin boasts 19 public parks covering nearly 1,000 acres rich in amenities. Emerald Glen Park includes baseball diamonds, barbeque grills, picnic tables, and lighted basketball and tennis courts. Fallon Sports Park also offers tennis as well as a BMX track and soccer fields. Slow the pace and view restored 19th-century buildings at Dublin Heritage Park and Museums, a 10-acre historic site. To brighten many of these green spaces even more, no fewer than 37 public art pieces grace Dublin’s parks. And the best part? Nearly all park events and activities are free.

925.833.6500 dublin.ca.gov

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Living It Up in Livermore

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Tri-Valley’s largest city delivers big-city pursuits in a perfectly sized package. By David Armstrong

his city has plenty to brag about. It’s one of California’s oldest wine regions, with top-notch performing arts and festivals.

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Most recently in 2012, Livermore also earned the distinction of having a chemical element — livermorium — named after it. Founded in 1869 and located just off Interstate 580, Livermore is the largest city in Tri-Valley with a population of


Clockwise from left: the Arroyo Mocho Trail, downtown Livermore, outdoor dining, Livermore 13 Cinemas, and live music at Sauced BBQ & Spirits

PHOTOS COURTESY CITY OF LIVERMORE

82,000. It’s a cutting-edge science hub thanks to the renowned Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (where scientists discovered livermorium), but the city’s tradition of innovation goes back much further. Winemakers started planting vineyards in Livermore Valley in the 1800s, making it the oldest appellation in California. Today, the valley’s 50-something wineries are reviving the tradition — more than 4,000 acres of vineyards blanket the countryside. Head downtown to explore the specialty boutiques and shops located on and near First Street, the main drag. You’ll find dresses, offbeat shoes, fashion accessories, outdoor gear, cheerful flower shops, and children’s boutiques like the whimsically named Woopsiedaisy Toy Shop. It’s the perfect place to find puzzles, dolls, and other toys, and children are free to play in the store. Livermore’s entertainment and arts scene is also centered around First Street. Take the Vine Cinema and Alehouse, ensconced in a renovated 1956 building with a vaulted roof and two screens showing independent films, classic movies, and live sporting events. Appetizers, craft beers, and local wines

are delivered to the comfy seats, and moviegoers can also order from the Zephyr Grill & Bar located right next door. “We are a complete date night wrapped into one,’’ says Theater Operator Kenny Way, who started at the Vine in 1989 as a high school student. Other popular downtown dating spots include Livermore 13 Cinemas, the East Bay’s first all-digital projection movie theater showing the latest Hollywood releases, and the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center. Featuring the 507-seat Bankhead Theater, the center presents opera, symphonic music, dance, lectures, and more. Looking for live music in an intimate lounge or maybe on a rockin’ garden patio? No matter your preferred scene, downtown Livermore has it all — 20-some venues within a six-block area. Catch bands playing everything from rock, jazz, and blues to country, alternative, and acoustic.

Livermore goes all-out with food and wine festivals. Now in its 24th year and always a big draw, the Livermore Wine Country Festival (May 3–4) offers wine tastings and food-and-wine pairings. On July 1, the 5th annual Chili Shooters and Western Heritage Celebration returns, complete with a chili cook-off and Western-themed fun. Then, August 2–3, don’t miss Taste of Downtown. Secure your wine glass and festival passport to enjoy wine and small bites at participating businesses. A number of multiuse trails crisscross the city, including the 5-mile paved Arroyo Mocho Trail, named for the creek which it roughly follows. It’s just one more item on a long list of reasons to brag about Livermore.

925.960.4000 livermoredowntown.com

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Clockwise: Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail, Nonni’s Bistro, Callippe Preserve Golf Course, Firehouse Arts Center, free Friday concert, and farmers’ market

More Than Just Pleasantries Pleasanton delivers history, culture, and nature.

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hat’s in a name? Plenty, in Pleasanton’s case. This city of 72,000 is vibrant, cuttingedge, and multifaceted.

You’ll find family friendly events including a century-old county fair and free outdoor concerts, along with restaurants, wineries, and shops in a well-preserved and lively historic downtown. Listed on Money Magazine’s America’s 100 Best Places to

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Live, Pleasanton offers a list of desirable amenities, all in a community that blends a modern environment with a small-town vibe. Nestled in the Amador Valley at the junction of interstates 580 and 680, Pleasanton provides 1,200 acres


PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) BY DINO VOURNAS (2), COURTESY CITY OF PLEASANTON (2), BY DINO VOURNAS, AND COURTESY CITY OF PLEASANTON

of parks and open space, and 24 miles of trails — perfect for hiking, biking, or other outdoor adventures of any speed. A BMX park, tennis center, and aquatic facility add to the city’s appeal. The award-winning Callippe Preserve Golf Course serves as a model for municipal courses around the nation, and offers an affordable round of golf on a challenging course. The site is also a nature preserve, with 288 acres of open space flanking its links, complete with a hiking trail and vistas that are hard to match. A visit to Alviso Adobe Community Park, a living historic interpretive site, transports you back to the times of the Ohlone Indians, California ranchos, and dairy farms. Dotted with heritage oaks, fruit trees, and native plants, the landscape is worth the trip alone

— including spectacular views of Mt. Diablo and the entire Tri-Valley. Head to Pleasanton’s tree-lined Main Street for a classic American small-town scene. Bordered by buildings that date back to the 1880s, it’s the perfect place to meet friends for a stroll or dinner, enjoy a latte or glass

of wine, or browse specialty shops. Don’t miss the year-round Saturday farmers’ market for fresh, local produce, foods, and flowers. From May to September, Pleasanton jams to free Friday night outdoor concerts, a monthly First Wednesday street fair on Main Street, an outdoor family film series, and Shakespeare in the Park. Meanwhile, the Firehouse Arts Center, built using portions of a historic brick fire station, enfolds an art gallery, a grand lobby for receptions and special events, and a 240-seat theater which hosts worldclass performances. If your idea of fun is one-stop shopping and dining, Pleasanton has that, too. More than 165 stores and restaurants fill Stoneridge Shopping Center, including Nordstrom, Macy’s, Apple, H&M, Coach, lululemon athletica, and Lush, among others. Pleasanton is known throughout the Bay Area as the home of the annual Alameda County Fair in June and the oldest one-mile racetrack in the nation, where the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit once trained. And the fairgrounds stay booked all year with events including collectible car shows, home and garden exhibits, and unique cultural programs. For more information about planning your own visit to see what makes Pleasanton so extraordinary, check out inPleasanton.com. usairwaysmag.com

FEBRUARY 2014

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The Tri-Valley feature from U.S. Airways Magazine