Your Guide to Livermore Valley Wines and Wineries

Your Guide to Livermore Valley Wines and Wineries

Mon, 09/05/2022 - 16:30 -- johnk

The History of Winemaking in Livermore

Founded on April 1, 1876, Livermore is known to be California's oldest wine region. In fact--Livermore had its own winery before it was founded! Livermore has been making and selling wine since 1849, the first winery owned by Robert Livermore. Whom the town was named after. Since then, Livermore has been a popular stopping point to visit. In fact, it was while traveling back to the San Francisco Bay Area after a business appointment in Tracy, CA that I stopped in at a couple of wineries and on a napkin, I started my blog at one of the tastings.

Three bottles of wine from Livermore

This valley has become home to many award-winning wineries, Livermore is famous for making and producing wine and their farmlands. Station in the heart of the Bay Area is the ideal place to be when you want to find a place to taste the perfect wine that will capture your attention. That being said, I will be sure to write another article about Livermore Valley and its wines and wineries in a future article that will address: where to stay, what to do, getting around Livermore Wine Country, where to eat, and of course the wineries.

I met winemaker Larry Dino of Cuda Ridge Wines back in April of 2022, although I had tasted some of his wines earlier it was at a meet the winemaker event portion of the 3rd annual Cabernet Franc Celebration & Competition that I got to meet the winemaker himself. I was privileged to be one of a number of the judges for a second time. The event was an interesting one in that there were two sets of judges, those that were winemakers or truly professionals in the wine industry, and there was the people’s choice table made of a few wine enthusiasts. While the two judging groups were not in exact agreement with all the decisions on which wines were to receive which rating or awards, it was amazing how many of the 70+ bottles of Cabernet Franc wines were in the competition that we all agreed upon.

After the judging, I stayed for an opportunity to enjoy a delightful and large charcuterie table and meet the winemakers who had won recognition from an earlier competition. After tasting Larry’s award-winning Cabernet Franc, I asked about visiting with him at Cuda Ridge and doing an interview together. I was pleased that Larry agreed to meet with me during the week before all the harvesting work began so he could host California Corks for this interview on one of Livermore Wine Country winemakers. How this husband-and-wife team went from the love of visiting Napa and Sonoma wineries to home winemakers, from home winemakers to opening their own winery.

Larry & Margie Dino, owners of Cuda Ridge

A Winery in Livermore Valley

Founded by Larry & Margie Dino, Cuda Ridge Wines produces Bordeaux-style wines that bring out the wonderful terroir of Livermore Valley. The Cuda Ridge Winery and Tasting Room is located at 2400 Arroyo Road in Livermore, California. Cuda Ridge's current production is 2100 cases. Larry and Maggie Dino expect the rate of wine production to continue to increase by a few hundred cases per year, in the foreseeable future. Cuda Ridge Wines produces the following Bordeaux varietals: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. From time to time, winemaker, Larry Dino, will produce non-Bordeaux style wines which are designated under the Black label. These wines include Sangiovese, and New-World style Cabernet Sauvignon. Each of the varietals produced are small lots ranging from 100 – 450 cases. Larry does the extensive blending of the varietals and strives for lower alcohol wines with intense complexity and character, traditional of the Bordeaux style. Cuda Ridge is a truly family and friends-run winery. When you visit this winery, don’t be surprised to see members of the Dino family and their friends helping with the wine-making, or pouring a glass of wine.

I was pleased that Larry agreed to meet with me during the week before all the harvesting work began so he could host California Corks for this interview on one of Livermore Wine Country winemakers. How this husband-and-wife team went from the love of visiting Napa and Sonoma wineries to home winemakers, from home winemakers to opening their own winery.

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Cuda Ridge Wines, what is in a name? I you chose to view the interview here in association with this post you can listen to Larry Dino explain in part, how they decided on the name. I found it interesting that Dino and his wife Margie were in the process of looking to purchase a vineyard, but the deal did not go through. Disappointed, and being someone who appreciated muscle cars a Barracuda with a for sale sign was off the road on their way home. Disappointed that they were not able to complete the vineyard purchase Larry decided that he could at least get this Barracuda he spotted for his next project. I will let Larry tell you the story but let us just say that this restoration project had a little something to do with the name of Larry and Maggie Dino’s winery.

While at the winery in July 2022, Larry poured two wines for us to review together. Larry poured one of his bottles of Cabernet Franc and the second was his Carménère. Both were delightful and we will be doing additional editing to the reviews of these two wines and the discussion that Larry and I had in another couple of videos that we will post to our YouTube Channel. (California Corks - YouTube) I do hope to visit with Larry later this year to see how the harvest went and to try a few other wines with him as well. You never know, I just might see you in the tasting room in the future.

Photo Credits: Livermore Valley Wine Growers Video: Huntress Media

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