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Tri-Valley vines vie for attention

Courtesy Tri-Valley CVB

When people think of California wine country, many default to Napa Valley.

But the Tri-Valley’s wine country is a viable option. Its landscape is as striking, its wineries bring home national awards and, best of all, its amenities are probably more affordable.

“San Francisco needs to come over and start giving us a try,” said Read Phillips, owner of Beets Hospitality Group, which operates two winery event venues in Pleasanton. “Our wine region is closer than Napa, we’re winning lots of awards, and there are lots of new wineries that are doing really, really fabulous wines.”

And, she added, “The most interesting event spaces in the Tri-Valley just happen to be at wineries.”

The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association has 42 member wineries and counts 48 wineries in the valley, where about 4,000 acres are planted with grapevines any given year, said executive director Chris Chandler.

Missionaries first planted grapes in the region in the 1760s, and grapes were being grown for commercial use by the 1840s. C.H. Wente, James Concannon and Charles Wetmore founded the first wineries in the 1880s, and new wineries are regularly joining the valley’s long-established ones.

Garre Vineyard and Winery has broken ground on a winery and events center, said Chandler, who earlier that day had been handed site plans for yet another new winery and events center expected to open in 2014.

The Tri-Valley region is easily accessible from major cities and airports and is more affordable than some neighboring wine countries, Chandler said.

“Particularly for corporations or business meetings, I think they want to get out of their everyday environment,” Chandler said. “They’re looking for something economical and close by but with that feeling of getting away. We’re so accessible for people who want to take their teams away but are also very mindful of budgets.”