Terroir describes the combination of site, soil, climate, geology, vines and the people who work to bring out the best in the fruit —together, these create a remarkable alchemy influencing and revealing itself in the quality of the wines. When the unique expression of terroir is captured in the bottle, we say that the wine has a “sense of place” original to that site and region.
In the early 1880s, our founder, James Concannon began searching for climate and soil, that special place, which would enable him to produce wines rivaling the finest of France. At that time, the future of California wine was uncertain and most believed it was doomed to failure; however, James and a small group of courageous wine pioneers were convinced that California could become as great a wine region as Bordeaux.
Recognizing our terroir as strikingly similar to the renowned Médoc in Bordeaux, he founded Concannon in 1883 and called Livermore Valley “The Grand Laboratory” where they would prove that a California wine industry would succeed. Then at the 1889 Paris International Exposition, the Livermore Valley stunned the world when Charles Wetmore won Grand Prix ― besting the best of Bordeaux! James and these early pioneers had launched California wine onto the world wine map, provided California the confidence needed for building its first successful wine industry, and blazed the trail for California’s winegrowing achievements of today.
After 134 continuous vintages from these same estate vineyards, Concannon is committed to the careful stewardship of the exceptional terroir for continuing the Concannon family’s legacy of crafting beautiful, nuanced wines with a vibrant sense of place.
CONCANNON ESTATE SOIL
A Taste of Place The Livermore Valley is famous for its gravelly, sandy loam soils, strikingly similar to the Médoc in Bordeaux. The austere, gravelly and rocky top soil causes excellent drainage and low water retention which encourage roots to delve deep into rich subsoils to find nourishment. Struggling vines concentrate on putting flavor in the grapes instead of growing leaves—ideal for developing exquisite, flavorful and balanced fruit which gives the wines of our region much of their personality and character.
THE CONCANNON DIFFERENCE In all the Livermore Valley, Concannon Vineyard has the most consistent 150 acres of gravel—to pea gravel—to small rock gravel which makes the Concannon estate unique for consistency and uniformity. This means that all the vines perform equally, and every berry ripens together. This is of enormous value to winemakers. What defines a classic vintage is that every berry has uniformity which makes for outstanding, premium wines.
The Livermore Valley has a beautiful, Mediterranean climate of dry, sunny summers and wet winters ― perfect for optimal winegrowing. The valley’s east-west orientation allows coastal fog and marine breezes to come in from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay which cool the valley’s warm air. This results in a unique 40 degree temperature swing between days and nights, creating ideal conditions for producing fully-ripened, balanced fruit and a long growing season.
“The combination of bright light, heat, and strong winds, followed by nighttime cooling, plus the valley’s shallow soil, is reminiscent of parts of southern France.” -The Wine Bible, 2nd Edition, by Karen MacNeil
Surrounded by coastal range mountains and foothills, the Livermore Valley is fifteen miles long (east to west) and 10 miles wide (north to south). This east-west orientation is unique among all northern California winegrowing regions.
In 1982, the Livermore Valley became one of the first U.S. appellations as designated by the U.S. government. This was granted based upon the valley’s unique, gravel-based soils as well as the marine winds drawn into the valley from the San Francisco Bay. The Livermore Valley appellation is part of the San Francisco Bay appellation, both of which are within the larger Central Coast appellation.