The perfect weekend away for me means hassle-free city access, garden-to-table dining and gorgeous scenery fit for a proper unplug. According to the Wine Spectator and local, anonymous wine loving philanthropists, the next great Northern California wine destination is the East Bay's Tri-Valley area. The trip takes about an hour from SF and most area airports: 45 miles east of San Francisco, 35 miles from OAK, 54 miles from SFO and 100 miles from SMF. For visiting New Yorkers sans driver's license and anyone else preferring not to get behind the wheel, it’s the only wine region accessible by public transit - take BART to the Pleasanton/Dublin stop and Lyft or Uber from there.
Tri-Valley’s main wine hub, Livermore, has been growing wine since the 1840s but it wasn't until recently that notable restauranteurs started moving, turning it into a favorite weekend destination for the urban wine set. With a kind invitation from the Tri-Valley tourist board, I packed up a bottle of green juice and a coffee for the 50 minute ‘road trip’ to learn how to turn a wine getaway into a wellness weekend.
As adventurous wine drinkers are discovering the region’s tasting rooms, the Tri-Valley area is planning to open its first branded full service hotels in the next few years. At the moment, the area’s best charming and independently owned properties include The Rose in Pleasanton and the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore. If staying close to the wineries in modern home or rustic coolcabin digs are more your style, check out local listings on Airbnb. Once you drop your bags, head into one of the Trivalley’s towns for a welcome glass of the area’s finest.
Pop into Double Barrel in Livermore, Coco Cabana wine bar in Dublin, or the Vine in Danville for a glass of local goodness to get into the weekend state of mind. Healthy dining in the area is plentiful, from white tablecloth dinner on a winery at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards to hip expat city chefs doing their wine country thing at Sabio in Pleasanton. The best way to find plant-based, gluten-free fare is at one of the local eateries specializing in local produce - they are more often than not happy to whip something up. I dined at The Restaurant at Wente and they prepared a wonderful vegan, gluten-free meal. Daytime eats are easy to find - for Livermore’s best espresso check out the new Rosetta Espresso. For quick, healthy lunchtime bits try Ofelia’s in Livermore and local favorite vegan dining spot Blossom.
Getting Up, Working Out
You want your tush whooped by a creatively sequenced flow class? Dragonfly Yoga in downtown Livermore offers a range of class styles and levels. Owners Stacy and Suzannah both teach wonderful classes for a full mind/body recharge from sweaty vinyasa with inversions to restorative yin classes. Crossfit classes abound in the Tri-Valley area, and local boxes include Crossfit Livermore, Schubox in Pleasanton and I Will Crossfit in Dublin. Barre is picking up popularity, and the newly opened Pure Barre in Pleasanton teaches their signature method mostly to local young, fit professionals. Other studios worth checking out include Absolute Barre at The Quad and Livermore’s Mindful Movements Pilates studio that just started teaching a barre class a few times a week.
If SUP, hiking, kayaking, or anything on a lake with 360 views of the surrounding nature is more your speed, check out the Del Valle Regional Park - a 15 minute drive up the mountain.
Hitting the Spa
Check out Elegant Alchemist at the Three Palm co-op space to see Leah for amazing bodywork and facial treatments. The space is a gorgeous pre-war home owned by a hair stylist who wanted to create a space for herself and her over 15 colleagues to be able to offer spa and salon services to the area. Other spa spots include Lavandu and Drift in Pleasanton, and Blush! in Dublin.
Yoga in the Vineyard
My favorite healthy activity that Livermore offers that its wine country neighbors to the north do not is a regularly scheduled yoga on the vineyard. Throughout the spring and summer season, Dragonfly Yoga partners with a local winery - last year Wente, this year Concannon - and teaches a sunset, mixed level class followed by wine and bites. Each class is $25, BYO mat.
Small Production Wines
Most of the wineries in the area are family owned, and many of these are being run by fourth and fifth generation. During my stay, I loved the wines and tasting room at Steven Kent. In addition to their tasting room they have a reserve room for members, in which they offer vertical tastings of their famed Lineage and Premier labels as well as small group seminars with their winemaker and other top wine personalities in the Tri-Valley. Other must-do Livermore wineries include Nottingham Cellars, 3 Steves, Las Positas Vineyards and McGrail Vineyards.
The largest outlet mall in California is located a stone’s throw from downtown Livermore, San Francisco Premium Outlets. There are few lines you can’t find here. On the activewear end - they have an Under Armour, Nike and New Balance. And as for post-gym: there’s a Bloomingdales, Saks Off 5th, Prada, Bally, Rag and Bone, Jimmy Choo, Theory, Maxmara, Bruno Cucinelli. It’s endless - pack plenty of water and snacks.
Pack up your wine, your local olive oils and any local spa goodies you may have purchased and head to Rosetta for an espresso for the road.
What to Pack
Don’t bring too much if you’re planning on hitting the outlets. You can find a season’s worth of essentials here. Days are warm, nights are chillier. As with any wine country, bring layers! And extra bags for shopping and wine to bring home as gifts.