Livermore AVA is part of the larger San Francisco Bay AVA, both of which are further encompassed in the Central Coast AVA. A wine made in Livermore may use any of the above AVAs on its label. The AVA is 25 miles (40 km) long, 18 miles (29 km) wide and has an uncommon (but not unique) west-to-east orientation. Most wine regions in California run north to south; the unusual orientation in Livermore AVA allows the vines to benefit from cool Pacific breezes that blow throughout the valley.
Mountains/River/other key influences
Livermore Valley is a mountain valley region, wherein the flatter valley floor remains surrounded by the Coastal and Diablo mountain ranges. At its lowest points -- in the western part of Livermore -- the elevation sits at 340 feet (100 m), which is higher than most valleys in the San Francisco Bay area. On the eastern side of the valley, elevations climb over 1,000 feet (300 m). The original appellation was mostly confined to the flatter valley floor, but the success with vine plantings in the foothills of the mountains has caused others to follow suit.
Livermore Valley AVA is not monolithic. There is a range in elevations throughout the valley, resulting in distinct microclimates with soil compositions that are the results of millions of years of tectonic movement. These higher elevation vineyards allow for a wider number of grapes to be planted, beyond the standard Bordeaux varieties, and they produce wines that are lower in alcohol and higher in natural acidity.
Livermore is an ancient seabed, and the soil throughout is predominantly gravel, along with limestone and clay. It is particularly well suited to Bordeaux varieties and Chardonnay, although Italian and Rhône varieties are also widely planted. The gravelly soils drain well, and also help inhibit a vine’s vigor.
Livermore Valley is located 35 miles (56 km) east of the San Francisco Bay. It is a warm Winkler Region III climate, but its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay helps moderate temperatures during the warm days. As temperatures rise inland, cool Pacific air travels over lower elevation mountain ranges and is also pulled through any gaps in the coastal mountain ranges. This cool marine air is a constant in Livermore, helping to lower temperatures around the vines, which slows ripening and acts to hold on to the grape’s natural acidity.
Proximity to the San Francisco Bay also brings a layer of fog into the valley in the early mornings. The marine air and fog layer act in tandem as a natural form of “air conditioning” for Livermore Valley. The valley also experiences a diurnal swing, meaning temperatures drop significantly at night. This helps slow down the entire ripening process, which in warmer regions like Livermore is key for quality wine production.
Surrounded by the Coastal and Diablo Mountain range and foothills, the Livermore Valley features Mt. Diablo to the north, Modesto to the east, San Antonio Valley to the south, and the San Francisco Bay 35 miles to the west.
English-born Robert Thomas Livermore ( 1799 – 1 1858) was a rancher and influential local landowner.
The valley runs West-East. This uncommon (but not unique) orientation allows cool Pacific breezes to enter the valley. Elevations run from 340 feet (100 m), which is higher than most valleys in the area, to over 1,000 feet (300 m).
Primarily gravel, with sand and loam. The gravelly soils drain well, and also help inhibit a vine’s vigor.
Winkler Region III, warm days, cool nights, due to cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc.