Concannon Tasting Room Review
Address: 4590 Tesla Road Livermore,California 94550.
Phone Number: 800-258-9866
Tasting Hours: 11:30-4:30
Region: Livermore Valley AVA, California
Reviewer: Sherrie Perkovich
Review Date: 9/2/2015
Reviewer: Sherrie Perkovich
Concannon Vineyard & Winery is located in charming Livermore Valley, and is actually closer to downtown San Francisco than most of the Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries. In Livermore there is a real down-to-earth quality and true generational feeling you might not get while in other California wine tasting regions. Guests will not feel like guests, they will almost feel like old friends, or in some instances, family.
There is a rich history of wine making in Livermore that can be dated back as far as the 1760s, when Spanish missionaries first planted wine grapes to provide wine for church services, much like the wine regions to the north. Robert Livermore planted the first commercial vines in the 1840s. Back then three main families planted vines and became winemakers: James Concannon, Charles Wetmore and Carl H. Wente. They each saw the areas potential and likeness to rocky French soils and founded their wineries in the early 1880s.
Even though The Wine Group purchased Concannon in 2002, the Concannon Family is still very much a part of the winery and day-to-day operations. Patriarch Jim Concannon never misses a beat, and recalls stories of his youth growing up on the farm and learning to make wine starting at age six. His son, John Concannon, after spending much of his career in medical device sales, has come back to the winery and is at his fathers side directing marketing, sales and PR. The Concannon Family has a rich Irish San Francisco heritage that they keep alive today paying tribute to their forefathers and European roots. Theyve even crafted an Irish Whiskey that they age in their Petite Sirah barrels.
Founding family members Jim and his son John Concannon are extremely down-to-earth and a joy to talk to and drink wine with. If you are extremely lucky, youll be able to meet them during a visit to the winery. This winery is a must on your Livermore Valley stop.
The Winery:  The property is warm and inviting. A $30 million revitalization project was completed a few years back resulting in the creation of a fresh look to their labels and the state of the art Underdog Wine Bar. As you walk through the property, youll notice very elegant, yet rustic, redwood in everything from the walls to the decor. Back in the day, redwood trees were used for large wine barrels, and Concannon utilized many of these towering containers. During their renovation, they recycled and incorporated these old redwood barrels into the building structures and furniture. Dont forget to look down on occasion while walking around the grounds of the winery. When you do, youll spy a little luck o the Irish in the form of horseshoe prints embedded into the stone walkways. It is their way of bringing a bit of the old country to Livermore.
Concannon Winery is Certified California Sustainable. This means that they actively practice sustainable vineyard management, endorsed by the California Wine Institute, which includes things like energy usage, environmental concerns, conservation of resources, organic farming, and socially equitable business practices (to name a few of the 227 criteria). If you think about organic wines and biodynamic wines, those would be subsets of the larger sustainability picture.
The Wines:  You will have the opportunity to choose from a long list of wines for your tasting experience. Tasting fees range from $10 to $150 per person. A tasting under the Arbor is their top-of-the-line VIP experience, and can be arranged with advance notice. Fees start at $150 and include wine, wine glasses and linens. The cost of the wine runs from $15 to $65. Tours are also available daily, but you must make reservations in advance. The fee for the tour begins at $20 per person (and includes your tasting). Concannon also offers an Art of Blending tasting where guests receive a blending tutorial, tasting and a specially labeled bottle of a reserve wine. The cost for this experience is $70 per person. Check out the Concannon tours and tasting section of their website for full details on all tasting and tour options.
Concannon produces a large variety of wines from light and crisp white wines, to robust reds and even dessert wine. Here are a few tasting suggestions: Conservancy Crimson & Clover, Reserve Viognier, Reserve Assemblage Red Wine, Selected Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon & Conservancy Cabernet Sauvignon, Limited Release Tempranillo and of course, Captain Joes Reserve Petite Sirah.
Concannon is known for their Petite Sirah wine. Petit Sirah is a grape with an identity problem, and patriarch Jim Concannon gave me an education on this luscious and bold grape. Petit Sirah is actually a grape called Durif. Its just that Petit Sirah sure sounded a lot better at the time. In 1961, Jim Concannon, his brother Joe, and their then sales contact in Southern California, Denny Caldwell, upon his urging, decided not to use the grape only for blending as it is customarily used, but kept a barrel separate and bottled it as its own varietal. In 1964, Concannon released Americas first Petit Sirah. It became an instant hit, started flying off Dennys shelves, and has been Jims favorite wine ever since. As a result, it was no longer just the secret ingredient in hearty red blends.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many of the Livermore Valley wineries are not open Monday through Thursday.