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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Harvest time in the vineyards

Uploaded: Aug 26, 2014
The aftermath of Sunday morning's earthquake has produced plenty of news stories about the impacts on the Napa Valley wine industry.
Seeing barrels toppled from their stands and cases and/or bottles lying on top of each other on the floor, brought back images of the Livermore earthquakes on the Greenville fault in 1980 that were less in magnitude than Napa, but still damaged stainless steel fermenting tanks at Wente Vineyards.
We will not know for a week or more a reasonable estimate of damage to the Napa Valley wineries—some producers had not been into the warehouses in American Canyon where many wineries store their inventory after bottling. That area is very close to the epicenter of the quake.
With the harvest already underway through much of Northern California and the Labor Day weekend approaching, wine and wine tasting comes to mind for many people.
Last week, the Santa Clara County supervisors and others formally announced the formation of a wine trail that includes 20 wineries in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. The wineries held a two-day event to promote their new joint venture—among the better known participating wineries were J. Lohr and Guglielmo.
The Southern Santa Clara County wine trail conveniently accompanies advertisements that Gilroy has been running to promote itself as a tourist destination. If you want a wonderful getaway to a premier resort—you would be hard-pressed to do any better than the Rosewood property at Corde Valle—but beyond that, it's stretch to imagine making a day-trip, yet-alone staying overnight in Gilroy as a weekend destination. .
Of course, do not tell that to the economic development team or the marketing consultants they've hired to do the outreach. The same can be said for the city of Concord folks who let consultants convince them to brand their city as "Diablo Valley." That works for the community college serving the variety of communities, but forget it for one city.
Consider our home turf, the Livermore Valley. The wineries now top 50 and many are flourishing. They range from the immense—Concannon Vineyards—one of the many brands owned by The Wine Group that ranks in the top five internationally in volume—to Wente Vineyards with the fifth generation of family ownership and leadership, to small mom-and-pop ventures.
The Livermore Valley will celebrate the harvest with its 33rd annual festival this Sunday that will have more than 40 wineries participating.
When I do a quick comparison of Morgan Hill and Gilroy vs. Livermore—wow, the Silicon Valley south has a very long way to go. The Gilroy Factory Outlets stores was one of the original outlet centers in Northern California, but they are dwarfed in both size and selection by the Livermore outlets. The same goes for the wineries where 20 just do not compare with 50.
The valley's central location makes it convenient for inbound and outbound commuters coming from many spots in the nine-county Bay Area. The same goes for wineries, particularly given how clustered so many are along Tesla and Greenville roads. It is really easy to spend a day along either road and enjoy a variety of winery experiences.

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