Livermore Valley Wine Harvest Festival Draws Large Crowds

Will Thompson

The 29th Annual Livermore Valley Wine Harvest Festival attracted a 
healthy crowd over Labor Day Weekend, when over 40 of the Valley’s 
wineries opened their grounds to tastings, food pairings and general 
revelry in the hot, late summer weather.
For a $50 admission fee for one-day 
admission, or a $65 two-day wristband, guests could gather at Livermore’s Robertson Park to sample what the Valley’s 
wineries had to offer, however, the real attractions were at the
wineries themselves.
Tesla Road, a country road skirting Livermore’s 
southern end, features lush vineyards among the town’s rolling hills, 
and is more than reminiscent of its North Bay counterpart in the Napa 
Breaking out of its more famous winemaking region’s shadow 
has been an unspoken, but underlying theme of the Livermore Valley, which offers two seasonal wine festivals—May’s Art and Wine Festival, held downtown, and September’s Wine Harvest Festival, which encourages
guests to make their way into the heart of the Valley’s century-old 
wine country.
Wente and Concannon, the region’s two largest producers and 
distributors, attracted the largest crowds, largely due to their
accommodating real estate.
Smaller wineries did not go ignored, however, especially the ones located on Tesla in between the two 
On the grounds of each winery, artists and food vendors could be 
found peddling their wares or their eats, while guests lined up duly 
to try a multitude of Cabernets, Merlots, Zinfandels, Pinot Grigios and various other reds, whites, and champagnes. Wine pourers could be 
heard extolling the virtues of their employers’ vines, the quality of Livermore Valley soil and the subtleties of the East Bay climate and 
its effects on vines and soil.
Local bands covered jazz, blues and rock numbers as guests scrambled 
for merciful shade, as the sun’s ascent between the event’s noon and 
5:00 p.m. runtime began to seriously heat up. Cold water bottles and wine
slushies were offered as cool-down alternatives, but those complaining 
about the steep admission prices were reluctant to part with an additional few bucks. Most simply switched from wine to champagne.
The festival’s big draw—the winery tour/go-round—certainly drew 
crowds, but the active role that it demanded from its audience may 
have not worked in its favor, due in no small part to the heat, but 
also the effort that guests undertook to go from place to place. While parking was made ample along Tesla Road, and shuttles seemed to
be dispatched regularly, long lines of cars and people waiting for 
shuttles were noticeable, and very little shade lines the main drag.
The combination of the holiday weekend and the festivities 
ensured that Livermore Police were out in force, on alert for 
potential DUIs. Still, the Wine Harvest Festival served as a good showcase for what 
the Livermore Valley has to offer. Since most wineries charge $5 to $10 for a tasting fee, the price of admission could be 
considered admittance to up to ten local establishments, all of which
were easily accessible at the event. And if one could reasonably 
conclude that a tasting includes at least five or six wines at each 
stop, a day in the heat, coupled with live music, lively hosts and the 
lush, inviting scenery among the rolling hills of Livermore, doesn’t 
seem to high a price to pay.  Plus, it’s a lot closer than Napa.