Northern California’s “other” wine country is a prime and sublime food, entertainment and golf destination
BY JAY STULLER G
The arepas at Porter’s Restaurant at Poppy Ridge
entle gusts of wind send waves through the golden grasses on
a hillside, while the nearby rows of cabernet sauvignon vines droop under the growing weight of bunched grapes, some green but most now deep purple. On a late summer weekday, the golf course on which we are playing is remarkably un- crowded. That’s something
of a surprise given that the steep terrain, wooded ridges and grapevines dominate the landscape of one of the more memorable regions in Northern California. While Napa Valley has
long held international sta- tus as the region’s premier wine country, the many memorable attractions of the Livermore Valley now rival its cousin to the north. Only 44 miles from San
Francisco and smack in the heart of a triangle drawn between The City, Stockton and San Jose, it’s within easy reach of millions. And instead of getting plugged in the vehicular clot that is Napa’s Hwy. 29, visitors reach Livermore on wide I-580, and in minutes are in its charming old downtown or a thoroughly rural setting. The region also possesses a wealth of courses as compared to Napa. Home to roughly 50
wineries, this valley has also evolved into a hotbed of live music and a destination for fine dining and, of course, excellent golf.
Poppy Ridge As Greenville Road
The award-winning Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
THE LIVERMORE VALLEY—WITH ITS MANY MEMORABLE ATTRACTIONS—NOW RIVALS ITS COUSIN TO THE NORTH.
crosses Tesla Road on the rolling hills southeast of Livermore, the view ahead is an invitation that no golfer can refuse, green ribbons of fairway draped over a flaxen landscape. This is the Northern California Golf Association’s member-owned Poppy Ridge Golf Course, 27 holes that echo the heath- land courses of Scotland. It’s said that 90,000 of the nearly 160,000 NCGA members live within 65 miles of the course.