While Wente is a bit of the 800 Gorilla in the room, Murrieta's well is quite the opposite. While enjoying commercial success with The Whip and The Spur, their focus is on estate grown fruit and small batches of wines, many blends, using varieties that might not find a home at Wente proper. Purchased by the Wente family in the 1930s, the estate is the former home of Louis Mal, one of Livermore’s vinous pioneers. It was Mal who was responsible for the early development of Livermore’s wine industry. Along with pioneers such as Carl Wente, they begin the test, trials and experiments that continue to this day. Murrieta's Well is a winery much in this tradition. The wines are intriguing, challenging at times, being produced with many varieties that may be unfamiliar, and certainly are unfamiliar in this terroir. It’s a medium sized winery that is producing wine with one eye towards Livermore’s future. They also produce a Livermore Zinfandel that was gorgeous, so not all is new and funky here!
My finale stop: Page Mill. Small, handcrafting wines, and still in the throes of growing pains; Page Mill is the archetype for wineries that move the needle. You need quite a few of them, but wineries like this, that produce wines as reflective of the owners and winemakers as of the terroir, are what attract attention. Both to themselves as well as to the region. Just take a taste of the estate Petite Sirah and you’ll see why Petite Sirah has a future in livermore. Heck the Concannon’s knew that 50 years ago when the began bottling a varietally labelled Petite from their vineyards here.
But it takes more than a single example to make a name for itself. It takes a chorus and Page Mill’s voice is one of the beautiful elements of that chorus. Adding a bit of rusticity to Wente’s polish. Countering Murrieta's experiments with examples of varieties tried and true. It’s a small part of the bigger picture. As I’ve already said, that big picture is taking shape today. It looks like Livermore is on the cusp of a breakthrough of sorts. We won’t know until we have the benefit of hindsight of course, but hindsight can only come with experience. So get out there and live a little more. Experience Livermore for yourself! I would love to hear your stories of Livermore so feel free to leave me a comment and share your thoughts on the matter.