Wine Tasting at the Party Barn

by | Mar 31, 2011 | Entertaining, Wine

Wine Tasting at the Calhoun Family Party Barn

Livermore is one of the oldest wine regions in California. Spanish missionaries planted the first wine grapes in the Livermore Valley in the 1760’s. Livermore’s namesake, Robert Livermore, planted the first commercial vines in the 1840’s. Pioneer winemakers James Concannon, C.H. Wente, and Charles Wetmore founded their wineries in the early1880’s. Charles Wetmore entered his Cresta Blanca Sauterne in the 1889 Paris International Exposition bringing home a gold medal and the competition’s highest award, the Grand Prix. Today the Livermore Valley is home to over 40 wineries, with Wente Vineyards being the oldest continuously family owned and operated winery in California. 

Pioneer winemaker James Concannon’s great grandson, Tom Concannon and his wife Teri Tith

On Sunday we had a wine tasting and potluck at the Calhoun family party barn, so it was only natural that the majority of wines we tasted were from the wineries here in the Livermore Valley. Twenty-four bottles of wine turned up for the tasting. The majority of the 24 bottles were Cabernet Sauvingnon. Of the bottles that were not Cab, four of the bottles were white wines and four of the bottles were port. 

Although the wine tasting and voting were very informal, my biggest faux pas of the day, however, was not supplying red wine glasses and spit buckets for the tasting. Here I thought I was doing great because I had upgraded from the plastic cups we normally drink out of in the party barn to wine glasses, but I was still mocked all day for my faux pas. I had to remind those mocking me that they were sitting around a ping pong table in a party barn tasting the wine, so they shouldn’t expect much. There were a couple of guests that showed up with their own red wine glasses because they had previously experienced the plastic and apparently did not want to endure it again.

Another descendent of Livermore Valley pioneers, Pete Fallon, showed up with his own red wine glass

The Livermore wineries with wines in the tasting were Nottingham, El Sol, Page Mill, Wente, Steven Kent, Fenestra, Darcie Kent, and Mitchell Katz. One very good wine from out of the Livermore area was ‘Loco’ Tempranillo 2007 from Four Vines of Paso Robles, California. The favorite white wine of the day was a Cupcake Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay.

There was a tie for first place, which went to El Sol’s 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvingnon and to Page Mill’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvingnon. Second place went to Steven Kent’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvingnon.  The port that seemed to be the favorite as it was gone by the end of the day, was Bon Vie port from Mitchell Katz with the grapes grown by my brother-in-law. I’m not sure it’s even available for retail sale–my husband and I usually receive a bottle of it as a Christmas gift.

Tied for first place, El Sol 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Page Mill Winery’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Even though I had to hear the good natured complaints all day about the lack of red wine glasses, I had a wonderful time and am now set up with spit buckets for the next wine tasting. Not sure I’ll have those red wine glasses though.


Eat, drink, and be merry!