Tom Heineman always dreamed of owning land, and he bought 12 acres in Livermore CA with his wife Pat in 1981 with the intention of growing grapes for local wineries. They took UC Davis winemaking classes and planted the Bent Creek Vineyard. After several years of selling their grapes to Livermore wineries, Tom and Pat decided to open a winery with Rich and Carol Howell, their friends. At UC Davis, the two couples researched oenology and started making wine from Bent Creek grapes. They opened Bent Creek Winery together in 2002. They soon became award-winning wine producers.
From caring for the vines, harvesting the grapes, to hosting visitors in the tasting room, the owners of Bent Creek work together on every aspect of wine production. With 6,000 vines planted, between eight and nine of the initial 12 acres are currently in development. About 3,500 cases of wine per year are produced by the winery.
In the well-drained soils, warm days, and cool nights that characterize the terroir of Livermore Valley, Bent Creek's vineyard thrives. Depending on the terroir where it grows, the flavors that are tasted in wine made from a specific grape variety will vary according to the synergy of climate, soil type, topography, sun exposure, and drainage, and the expression of the terroir will change depending on which grape variety is growing in it.
Bent Creek has a wide range of award-winning wines that are handmade with the utmost attention to performance. They're currently offering a pre-selected flight with a $15 tasting fee for some of our favorites (non-Club members).
It was science that brought Rich Howell to Livermore in 1972, but he switched to one of the other staples of the city after his long career with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: wine. For the physicist-turned-winemaker given his previous hobby making hard cider in Michigan, it was a natural progression.
It was quick,"It was easy for me to go to a cider mill [in Michigan],"for me to go to a cider mill [in Michigan]. "In California, what's the good thing to use? Well it's grapes ... Livermore is a wonderful place to get grapes."
Winemaking isn't just Rich's priority. Sensei Rich also teaches classes at Yoshin Jitsu Kai, a local martial arts academy, where he has been the head instructor since 1995, remaining true to his mantra of keeping active in retirement.
The preference of our winemaker is to create wines that have complex flavor layers, such as mineral, spice, earth, floral, and fruit. You can find that the Cuda Ridge wines have balanced tannins, oak, acid and alcohol, in addition to balanced flavors. In the winemaking process, there are several steps that allow us to achieve this equilibrium in their wines. Harvesting is one of the most critical steps. Their winemaker selects the harvest date and the picking decisions are based more on taste. Their winemaker prefers to pick on the earlier side, so the flavors of the fruit do not overpower the wine's flavor profile. They are also able to preserve the natural acids in the fruit by picking early and to create wines with lower alcohol. They source the fruit from 8-9 of the best premium vineyards, exclusively from the Livermore Valley, and since their first harvest in 2007, their winemaker has had strong working ties with these growers.
Livermore, California has so many amazing vineyards to see. Here’s a brief list you should check out on your next visit:
The Steven Kent Winery
Page Mill Winery
Wood Family Vineyards
Nottingham Cellars - Livermore Winery and Wine Tasting
Ruby Hill Winery
Cuda Ridge Winery
Bent Creek Winery
Rubino Estates Winery
Charles R Vineyards
All of these wonderful vineyards are located just a short distance from our location in Dublin, California on Village Parkway.