December 5, 2023 | POSTED IN

Reflecting on Change: Navigating New Paths at Tri-Valley Uncorked

A decorative picture of John Kinney in the vineyard

Livermore Valley, a region steeped in viticultural history, has long celebrated the art of winemaking. This tradition of recognition and festivity dates back to 1889, when the first local celebration of award-winning wines was held in Livermore to honor the winners of the Paris Exposition. This historic event not only marked the valley’s emergence on the global wine stage but also set a precedent for communal celebrations of viticultural excellence. In this vein, the Tri-Valley Conservancy’s annual Uncorked event remains a modern embodiment of this spirit – one that we have enjoyed participating in through the years.

However, a recent shift in Uncorked’s format has forced us to step back from this year’s event. For many years, Tri-Valley Uncorked has served as a platform for local winemakers to showcase their craft, fostering a sense of community reminiscent of the 1889 celebration. We have participated since the event’s inception and have been an integral part of this tradition. The event’s essence has always transcended competition, emphasizing the camaraderie and collective pride of Livermore Valley’s vintners.

This year’s alteration in the event’s structure – shifting focus to only honor winners of the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition – marks a departure from this long-standing tradition of inclusivity. This change is not just a procedural modification but a deviation from the ethos that has been part of Livermore Valley’s wine celebrations since the late 19th century.

Requiring entry into the San Francisco Chronicle Competition eliminates us, and perhaps others, from contributing to this year’s fundraising activity. This is because we haven’t entered the Chronicle Competition for several years.

The timing of the San Francisco Chronicle competition, which requires entries in November, clashes with our bottling schedule. Moreover, the stipulation for wines to be publicly available by February excludes our most special wines, like our Heritage and limited production wines, which aren’t sold to the public. Even our popular wines like our Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc can’t be entered because they will still be in bottle shock by the time of the Chronicle Competition.

This change in the spirit of Uncorked is emblematic of the evolving nature of wine industry traditions. While our winery respects the legacy of Livermore Valley’s winemaking and the historical significance of collective celebrations, we find ourselves at a crossroads, choosing to honor our winemaking philosophy over participating in an event that no longer aligns with our values and practices.

While our wines may not grace the tasting tables this year, our spirit remains deeply intertwined with the event and the broader Livermore Valley wine community. We stand in solidarity with fellow vintners and wine enthusiasts, encouraging everyone to join in celebrating the rich tapestry of local wines, even as we observe from the sidelines.

Our hope is anchored in the future – a future where inclusivity and diversity in winemaking are once again at the forefront of events like Uncorked. We look forward to a time when the Tri-Valley Conservancy revisits and broadens its inclusion criteria, allowing for a wider spectrum of winemakers to participate. This change would not only honor the rich heritage that began with the 1889 celebration but also ensure that the full range and uniqueness of Livermore Valley’s wines are showcased and celebrated.

In this moment of transition, we remain committed to our craft and to the community that has supported us throughout the years. We eagerly anticipate the day when we can once again join hands with our fellow vintners in a celebration that truly reflects the vibrant diversity and creative spirit of Livermore Valley’s winemaking legacy.