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29th annual Harvest Wine Celebration wraps up this afternoon

More than 40 wineries offering tastes of their best, newest wines

The Livermore Valley's 29th annual Harvest Wine Celebration wraps up today with wine, food, art and music from noon to 5 p.m.

Thirty participating wineries are pouring at their tasting room locations across Livermore Valley, and 11 more wineries will be pouring and hosting festivities at either Concannon Vineyard or Wente Vineyards on Tesla Road.

In advance of the two-day celebration, winegrowers, a rabbi and a minister gathered in vineyards on the outskirts of Livermore for the annual Blessing of the Grapes (see video).

The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association used the opportunity to unveil new wine region signage and to launch an iPhone app -- Livermore Valley App -- to help guests find their way around the Livermore Valley Wine Region.

"This is the first sign in our signage program," said Chris Chandler, executive direction of the association, pointing to the stacked sign giving directions to nine wineries at the corner of South Livermore Avenue and Concannon Boulevard. "It is to promote the area and educate visitors, residents -- and daily commuters."

She also held up "The Wine Seeker's Guide to Livermore Valley" by Thomas C. Wilmer, saying the new publication is the first of its kind for this region.

The Blessing of the Grapes was given by Rabbi Rick Winer from Congregation Beth Emek in Pleasanton and Senior Pastor Stephen Wilde of the First Presbyterian Church in Livermore.

"In my tradition, we have a blessing for everything," said Winer. "We bless our food, we bless special moments in life, we have a blessing for seeing a rainbow and for setting eyes upon the ocean.

"And we have a special blessing for grapes and wine -- for the fruit of the vine. ... We understand creation to continually unfold day after day, year after year, from one harvest to the next including all the important steps in between."

"We gather here this morning not just to express gratitude for the bounty of this harvest," said Wilde, "but also to express gratitude to the men and women who give tirelessly of their efforts, their time. They plant seeds, they water, but we acknowledge that it is God who provides the growth."

"One of the reasons we reserve a special blessing for wine is that it's such a great example of our partnership with God," added Winer.

He gave the blessing in English -- "We praise you, O God, who continually creates the fruit of the vine" -- and in Hebrew (see video). The crowd responded, "L'chaim!" and everyone toasted and sipped wine from their glasses.

For more information, visit www.LVwine.org or call 447-WINE (447-9463).

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