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6 Things To Do in SF Bay Area: Ruby Hill Winemaker Shares

There are countless things to do in the Bay Area. But to escape the typical tourist destinations, you’ll have to head 35 miles of San Francisco to the Tri-Valley where one of California’s oldest wine regions – Livermore Valley – played a pivotal role in shaping California’s wine industry. Who knew, huh?

Now over 50 award-winning wineries call Livermore Valley Wine Country home, including Ruby Hill Winery, which emerged in 1883 when its founder planted the first vineyards into a red clay knoll that gave its name. The winery’s director of winemaking, Jesse Plautz, has taken up the mantle by continuing Ruby Hill’s and Rubino Estate Wineries’ wine styles and blends.

Jesse shares his favorite places to eat and activities in the Tri-Valley:

POSADA – The fettuccine that Eduardo Posada makes is fantastic. It’s a small family restaurant with really friendly owners, great food and a comfortable atmosphere.  Definitely a favorite in the area. 988 Murrieta Blvd, Livermore, CA

The Korean chicken wings are amazing at THE LAST WORD.  Very good mixed drinks, nice selection of snacks and some good mains as well. 2470 First Street, Livermore, CA

SAUCED BBQ & SPIRITS – Can’t beat some good barbecue. I get the rednexican nachos with burnt ends quite often. 2300 First St #120, Livermore, CA

Bocce at CAMPO DI BOCCE is always a great time. Fairly popular past time in Livermore Valley in general, and they have professional tier courts, as well as good drinks and food while you play. 175 Vineyard Ave, Livermore, CA 94550

Spirits tasting at SUTHERLAND DISTILLING.  Very small, boutique local distiller who is doing some great things. Very friendly owner and a perfect example of a truly local business doing interesting things. 3189 Independence Dr, Livermore, CA 94551

I’m a huge fan of the outdoors, so there are a number of parks and paths around that you shouldn’t miss – from Pleasanton Ridge to Del Valle Regional Park and many others. One of the biggest appeals of the Tri-Valley to me is the importance of green space.

Need ideas for wines to taste? Try Ruby Hill Sparkling Wine, 2014 Reserve Chardonnay (93 points from Wine Enthusiast) and 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (double gold medal from the SF Chronicle Wine Competition).

Fun facts about Ruby Hill Winery:

  • Ruby Hill started making wine around the same time as Wente and Concannon.
  • During prohibition, Ruby Hill continued to operate by making wine for sacramental purposes. Ernest Ferraro, who ran Ruby Hill, was rumored to be a bootlegger!
  • The original Ruby Hill Winery property was purchased by Computerland in 1982 for a corporate campus.  The sale was blocked by Friends of the Vineyard,  a local non-profit which protects vineyard lands from development.