Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley

A Book Review

The Wine Seekers’ Guide to Livermore Valley, by my friend Tom Wilmer, was not written for the wine snob. The book is aimed at those of us who don’t understand the intricacies of the grape. He says the wine tasting experience has more to do with the social interactions and having a fun time, rather than the subjective, critical tasting experience. Therefore, this is truly my kind of guide– one with clear and helpful information in an easy to read format.

The book serves as the first exclusive guide to this little-known wine region located in northern California about a half-hour from San Francisco in the East Bay. Tom introduces more than forty wineries, the owners and winemakers, and their superb wines. The paperback makes it easy to plan a tour as it provides a map of the region, directions, operating hours, and contact information for each winery. As a seasoned travel writer (travel editor of Las Vegas Magazine from 1998 through 2003 and Central Coast Magazine from 2003 through 2008) Tom has also included recommendations on where to stay and a detailed restaurant guide plus bookstores, theater, festivals and parks. Now, all I need is time to visit each one.

Greenville Road in the Livermore Valley
Greenville Road in the Livermore Valley

For those with a curiosity about wine and the wine making world, you’ll find his tales fascinating. He focuses on the winemakers’ passions, backgrounds and nuances of particular styles of winemaking, rather than criticizing and rating the wines. That’s not surprising as the author has been interviewing folks for his radio show “Audiolog – The Travel Show” on NPR public radio affiliates KCBX, KSBX and KNBX for 21 years. I felt I was being taken on a personal tour and gaining secret insider information.

Tom is a true storyteller so this book reads like a series of vignettes rather than facts and figures. I also love guide books with photos and this book contains a plethora of excellent color prints which truly add to the enjoyment. 

Now, don’t just take my word for it.  President Emeritus of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association, Don Jackson said, “Highly regarded author Tom Wilmer’s most recent book on the Livermore Valley Appellation gives this important-but long overlooked- vintners region an informative showcase. Emphatic accolades for his concise and informative descriptions of the regions best wineries which will surely be helpful and inviting for the true wine connoisseur AND the novice oenophile. Tom’s inclusion of the best hotels and restaurants in the area are wonderful additions to the book and help capture the essence of the good life in this delightful destination.”

Steven Kent Winery
Steven Kent Winery

Renowned travel author, Christopher Baker writes, “This fantastic book is a total winner. Tom Wilmer has done a superb job profiling this unsung wine district a short distance east of San Francisco. Wilmer has a fine way with words – the book is a joy to read, with the author’s richly engaging text leavened with warm and gracious comments and a discerning eye for intriguing historical, cultural, and other detail. Highly recommended. “

Steve Ferree, of said,” While Napa is proud of winning the judgment of Paris in 1976 (and the basis of the movie “Bottle Shock”); Livermore Valley was winning awards at the Paris Exposition almost 100 years earlier in 1889!  Many of the earliest wineries in California were in Livermore and still exist today, including Wente and Concannon.  The Wente Chardonnay clone is the foundation for Chardonnay throughout California.”

Georgia Hesse, local authority and Founding Travel Editor, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle said, “Mon Dieu! Does the world need another wine book?  Believe it or not, it needs this one… Wind with Wilmer along tranquil trails or sit in the sun sipping a little something at a sidewalk café. Whatever delights are available throughout Livermore Valley, you’ll find your way to them in these pages.”

So follow a historical trail and let your nose lead the way. Pick up a copy of the award winning Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley, plan a trip and get tasting.

2011 Best Guide Book-3rd place” Outdoor Writers Association of California

Photos compliments of Tom Wilmer and The Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley.   

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Available at