San Francisco on the east side of the Bay Area. As of 2013 there are over fifty wineries and growing. Some offer food pairings with wine tasting, either snacks or courses and a few even have live music. The dry heat of the day mixed with cool nights from the fog of the bay creates a thriving environment for a number of varietals to thrive, like Petite Sirah. Some wineries are bigger than others so wheelchair access varies. Most have handicapped parking but not all have restrooms. Below is a sample of wineries to be found in the Livermore Wine Country.
Concannon Winery was one of the first wineries in Livermore and one of the first ones seen off Telsa Road. It has a stellar reputation for winemaking. A few wheelchair accessible parking spots are available right outside the tasting room. The tasting bar is not setup to be wheelchair accessible but the staff is more than happy to set up a table. Tours of the winery are accessible but requires a fee for the tasting at the end and a minimum of eight people. What’s unique about Concannon Winery is the Underdog Wine Bar, which serves food and often has events such as live music or an art show.
Eagle Ridge Winery
Resting on top of one of Livermore Valley’s hills is the Eagle Ridge Vineyard. The view of the surrounding hills, vineyards and Altamont windmills is absolutely lovely. The tasting room is locate inside a remolded barn with the floors made up smoothly paved cement. Getting around the barn was easy due to lots of maneuverable space. Right next to the tasting bar is a table that is a perfect setup for a wheelchair to roll right up and comfortably taste. Antiques fill up the room with some things being for sale others not, like old radios.
While there is not handicapped parking, any spot is only a few steps from the tasting room. The parking lot is made up of medium gravel pieces that can be a nuisance for manual wheelchairs but a short wheelie conquers all. The owners are very sweet and said that if getting around the parking lot is a problem that you can park close to the barn. A wheelchair accessible porta-potty is available right outside the tasting room.
Mitchell Katz Winery
Mitchell Katz Winery is overall wheelchair accessible since it was recently established in 2002, including restrooms. Along with many of the others in the Livermore Valley Wine Country the Mitchell Katz Winery goes for the “rustic” feel in its architecture. However in this case, the pathway to the tasting room was made of cobble stone and very uneven, which makes it no picnic to travel across especially if carrying a bottle of wine to take home.
The tasting area is great. A section of the bar is lowered so a wheelchair user can comfortably roll right up to it and enjoy a tasting. Directly behind the tasting bar is a lounge area with leather couches and a fireplace; a perfect place to take your glass and enjoy the wine if you are not interested in all the wine-making details.
Murrieta’s Well Winery
Established in the 1880s, Murrieta’s Well Historic Winery is one of the oldest vineyards in the Livermore Valley and has maintained its “old world” style blends from the original plantings that thrive in the gravelly soil. “[We] blend small lots of exceptional varietals grown on the site to produce wines that are truly distinctive,” says 4th generation Philip Wente.
Handicapped Parking: Follow the handicapped sign and veer to the left after crossing the small bridge. You’ll go up a small hill and then will see the paved disabled parking spot. Near this spot is the short ramp that will take you down to the tasting room.
Tasting Room: A section of the tasting bar is lowered so that it’s wheelchair friendly for your tasting convenience. There is also restroom accommodations available on the same floor.
Ruby Hill Winery
In California’s Livermore Wine Country there are a number of wineries popping up. The most recent count is 42 wineries… and growing. Amongst one of the newest additions is the Ruby Hill Winery, located at the intersection of Highway 84 and Vineyard Avenue. This winery has wine from their vineyards on site as well as the Monterey Bay. They have different wines to taste from classics like, a Petite Sirah and Reserve Merlot as well as their own unique blends.
The winery had a very large tasting bar that wrapped around as well as a quaint sitting area with leather chairs by a fireplace. I was happy to see that there was also a cheese deli and coffee cafe in case you wanted something to nibble on or a caffeinated pick-me-up. Scattered throughout the tasting room were various items for sale from olive oil to t-shirts to necklaces.
Being the new winery on the block means that everything is up to ADA code, including parking and restrooms. The door into the tasting room, however, was a large wooden door that was a little hard to open. I looked around and did not see a handicapped button that opens the door automatically.The walkway to the tasting room was laid in “flat” cobble stone, so if you have those tiny, roller-blade like wheels be careful not to get one of them wedged between a crack. Finally, there was not a section of the bar that was lowered enough for a wheelchair user, but the bar was not too terribly high.
All and all, this tasting room was easy for a para to get around but it goes to show you that even with brand new public buildings, some times wheelchair accessible guidelines are ignored.
Tucked away in the neighborhood of Ruby Hills Vineyard Estates off highway 84 is the winery called Tenuta. It’s been open since 2003 and because it is so new, everything is up to ADA code. You can pull almost right up to the entrance, which looks like the photo on the left.
The only wines that Tenuta Vineyards produces is a Pinot and and Chardonnay. Everything else is purchased from other wineries, many of which from the Livermore Valley. Besides wines, there were unique crafts and jewelry for sale.
The bar was a large half circle design to create a comfortable space between parties. However, what was particularly about this place was a entertainment lounge adjacent to the wine tasting bar, equipped with leather couches and a flat screen television. This of course was the spot where most of the men were hanging out, enjoying Sunday football with a glass of wine. For someone in a wheelchair to access this area, however, one must go outside and up a small ramp to reach this level.
Wente Vineyards is nestled along the sandstone hills of the Livermore Valley and is a destination in itself. It was one of the founding wineries of the area.
The Vineyard Tasting Room is open daily and is located in the Event Center. Disabled parking is available just to the left of this building. While wine tasting a wheelchair user can use the lowered bar area if desired; there is also a handicapped restroom down the hall from the tasting room.
Besides a wide selection of Estate Grown, Reserve, and Nth Degree wines for purchase, there are a number of wine country inspired merchandise; including Wente Vineyards Olive Oil, cheese accessories, wine glass charms, clothing, and more. Furthermore, right outside the tasting room is a patio with tables and chairs and is a great spot to enjoy a bottle of wine while admiring the ambiance of the wine country views.
There are tours through the sandstone caves as well as private tastings. However, times and availability vary throughout the year, so give the tasting room a call for more information 925.456.2405.
White Crane Winery
The White Crane Winery is located deep in the heart of the Livermore Valley Wine Country. It has a small, quaint tasting room with an exceptionally friendly staff. One wheelchair accessible parking spot is available almost right outside the door. There is a cute outdoor patio but unfortunately no restroom.