Living a Little More In Livermore

photo courtesy of Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

Although the majority of people flying into San Francisco Airport with wine on the mind have visions of Napa and/or Sonoma, I’m here to tell you about a place you can “Live a little more.” Livermore Valley is located in the eastern portion of Alameda County, in the East Bay region of San Francisco Bay. Bounded by the Diablo Range on the north, east and south, and linked to the Amador Valley in the west, this wine region is located just 45 miles east of SFO and has so much to offer.

The valley that bears the name of Robert Livermore has a rich wine history dating back to the early 19th century.  Robert Livermore and his business partner José Noriega raised livestock in the valley since 1834. In 1839, the governor gave them the Mexican Land Grant for Rancho Las Positas. Eight years later, the two men purchased Rancho Canada de los Vaqueros adjacent to the north of Rancho Las Positas and Livermore Valley in the Diablo Range.

During this time, Livermore’s name became synonymous with the California Gold Rush. He ran an inn at his adobe ranch house in the valley that provided a rest stop for miners and other travelers on their way to the Mother Loge region in the Sierra Nevada. Because of this, the valley became known as Livermore Pass, the northern pass that led the people to their golden dreams. 

One of the Originals

Snooth recently hosted a virtual tasting focused on Murrieta’s Well wines. We tasted through six of their wines in an hour. Growing grapes since the 1800s, Murrieta’s Well is one of the original wine estates in California. They began their vineyard using cuttings Louis Mel brought over from the famed Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux vineyards in France when he built a gravity flow winery into the hillside.

After 49 years, Louis Mel decided to sell the property to his longtime friend Ernest Wente and the property has been part of the Wente vineyards since then, making Wente Vineyards the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery. In 1990, Philip Wente partnered with Sergio Traverso to create a new wine label. Murrieta’s Well was created to honor the history of the property. 

Murrieta’s Well, obtained its name in honor of Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo. Known as the Mexican Robin Hood or the Robin Hood of El Dorado, he is a historical figure in California from the 1850s. His legacy, whether an infamous bandit or a Mexican patriot, is the inspiration behind Johnston McCulley fictional character Zorro and discovered the property on which Murrieta’s Well is now situated. Read more about Murrieta’s legend here

Today, descendants of those original vines are still growing and producing the fruit for Murrieta’s Well wines, and the tasting room is located where the original gravity flow winery building was built. Winemaker, Robbie Meyer now oversees the estate vineyard making decisions.

Six Wines in Sixty Minutes

2015 The Whip ($24): Composition: 30% Sauvignon Blanc 30% Semillon 30% Chardonnay 7% Viognier 3% Muscat Canelli; Production: 165 barrels; Release date: February 2017. Appearance: clear, medium, deep purple. Nose: clean, medium (+), youthful aromas of peach, melon, and honeysuckle. Palate: off-dry, medium acidity, low alcohol, medium body, flavors of orange blossom, tangerine, honey and peach, medium (+) finish; Enjoy through: 2020.

Dracaena Wines

2014 The Spur ($30): Composition: 45% Cabernet Sauvingon 22% Petite Sirah 14% Petit Verdot 10% Merlot 9% Cabernet Franc; Production: 207 barrels; Release date: March 2017. Appearance: Pours deep purple in color Nose: medium developing aromas of spice, red fruit and clove. Palate: Dry, low acidity, medium alcohol and tannins, medium body with medium flavors of clove, blueberry and spices, medium (+) finish; Enjoy through: 2022. 

Dracaena Wines

2016 Dry Rosé ($30): Composition: 55% Grenache, 45% Counoise; Production: 1450 cases; Release date: February 2017; Appearance: Pours peche in color Nose: medium, youthful aromas of strawberry, watermelon and rose petals. Palate: bone dry, medium acidity, low alcohol, medium (-) bodied. Medium (-) flavors of watermelon, peach and pink grapefruit, medium finish; Enjoy through: 2018.

Dracaena Wines

2016 Muscat Canelli ($35): Composition: 100% Muscat Canelli; Production: 100 cases; Release date: April 2017; Appearance: Pours light lemon-gold in color Nose: youthful, medium (+) aromas of citrus, white peach and gardenia. Palate: dry, medium acidity, low alcohol, medium(-) body, medium(-) flavors of peach with a medium (-) finish; Enjoy through 2018.  

Dracaena Wines

2014 Cabernet Franc ($58): Composition: 88% Cabernet Franc,
6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot; Production: 20 barrels; Release date: October 2016; Appearance: Pours purple in color; Nose: developing aromas of black cherry, plum and dried herbs; Palate: dry, low acidity, medium tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, medium flavors of dark fruit, spice, vanilla and violets, medium finish; Enjoy through 2024.
Dracaena Wines
2014 Merlot ($40): Composition: 90% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Sirah; Production: 18 Barrels; Release date; October 2016; Appearance: Pours deep purple in color; Nose: medium (+) developing aromas of spices, cocoa and plum; Palate: dry, low acidity, high tannin, medium alcohol, medium (+) body, medium flavors of cocoa, plum, spices and chipotle, medium (+) finish; Enjoy through 2024.

Dracaena Wines Murrieta’s Well Fast Facts

  • Merlot responds to clay soils and higher altitudes
  • Winemaker Robbie Meyer attended University of Georgia and UC Davis. He has been the winemaker for 20 vintages and was at Peter Michael Winery when he met Wente. 
  • Robbie Meyer has produced wine in Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara before falling in love with the Livermore Valley
  • There is a sense of place in Livermore Valley. Murrieta’s Well farms acre by acre to get the most out of each varietal.
  • All wines are sourced exclusively from their estate vineyards
  • “The wines we create inspire people to think about where the grapes are grown.” ~ Robbie Meyer
  • Murrieta’s Well is open daily 11:00 am – 5:00 pm and is located at 3005 Mines Road, Livermore, California. 

Find out more about Murrieta’s Well and their wines on their website. Thank you to Snooth for asking me to participate in this virtual tasting. If you would like to watch the virtual tasting and hear about the wines directly from Robbie Meyer, click HERE


Disclosure of wine sample submission:  I received these wine at no cost for participation in the tasting; however I wasnot required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.




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  1. Shouldn’t Murrieta’s Well be in Murrieta? 😉 ha ha!

    Growing up in the East Bay, of course I know the name Wente, I’ll have to check these out.

    1. LOL! that’s a great point Audrey! Maybe they should get a tasting room there!

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