Sometimes a winery just names itself and does so perfectly.
Such is the case of Leisure Street Winery in Livermore.
It was in 2019 the winery – the product of Rick and Kelly Volpatti – opened fittingly enough, on Leisure Street and the couple figured it would be the perfect name.
As I have written about wineries for years, it must be the overall experience that makes a winery, not just the wine. Leisure Street offers great wine for sure and a tasting experience that befits the name of the winery.
Rick and Kelly have made Leisure Street the perfect model for having a winery without having to face the time and effort of growing grapes. They buy 100 percent of their grapes, almost all from Livermore and the Plymouth area.
The couple, who boasted an extensive home collection of wine, took their turn at making wine, starting in 2013 with the help of the fun-loving guys at 3 Steves. In 2016, they started selling wine, but it was out of a warehouse.
At one point, they bought a house and some property on Leisure Street off of Tesla in Livermore, and the tasting room followed.
“It took some time to get the power and the plumbing to the tasting room,” explained Rick. “But it’s been much better than the urban site. Once we opened out here our sales grew five times.”
In the short time the tasting room has been opened, the popularity has grown. There is no pretentious attitude, nor a rushed feeling, something that plagues many a winery.
When at Leisure Street, you feel like you belong, from the time you park until the time you leave.
There is a spacious area outside to taste, the inside room, while a comfortable and relaxing place to drink some wine, can get a little crowded when the weather goes south.
“We are looking at possibly a new building,” said Rick. “We’re trying to develop the property into something for everyone. During the winter it can get a little small.”
This all with some marketing, but most visitors coming via word of mouth. Consider this story another shout out!
It is a great experience at Leisure Street, which is essential, but what will keep you coming back is the wine.
I am a red wine guy, but on a hot day, a nice Chardonnay can be perfect. The 2017 Chardonnay from Napa was just that. From there my wife and daughter-in-law really fell for the 2019 Swirly Girl (named after Kelly). The 100 percent Grenache Rose managed to work its way into our take-home wine.
From there it was into the red wines and the portfolio took off.
The 2017 Grenache from the Livermore Valley was a great way to start and was followed by the 2016 My Mia Barbera (named after Rick and Kelly’s daughter) from Amador County.
The wine which comes from Jeff Runquist Wines in Plymouth, has great legs and a wonderful taste.
Next up was the star of the show for me – the 2016 Godfather. The Cooper Barbera from Amador County has twice won Gold for Best of Class in competition. The finish was reminiscent of a good port, leaving that lingering feeling of a nice, relaxing bottle of wine.
We also had a chance to taste 2017 Godfather, and while it was still a solid bottle of wine, it did taste a little on the young side. The 2016 “Vincenzio” (named after their son), is a Cooper Zinfandel and was also enjoyable.
When asked what his favorite bottle of their wine is currently, Rick went to the 2017 Cabernet Franc grown by Herringer Vineyards in Clarksburg. That was followed by some 2015 Syrah, a bottle Rick said was the go-to for BBQ, which it is, as we put it to use that night.
We ended our tasting with the 2014 Mourvedre from Livermore. I am a Rhone-varietal fiend with some of my favorite wines being a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre). Rick and Kelly made a GSM at one point and had Mourvedre left over, so they made 50 cases.
It did not disappoint and now occupies a spot in my collection.
Currently Leisure Street produces 1,500 cases a year, but they may scale back this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the industry down.
The price of the wine is another big selling point, as the most expensive bottle of wine is $45. Most of the wines sell for between $25-40, a downright steal of a bargain as these wines stand up against any I have tasted in the Livermore Valley, many of which will set you back more in the wallet.
The Leisure Wine Club sits between 60-65 members currently, but as word gets out, this will easily double, or triple. Trust me, spend one day on the property and you will be able to tell that the member events must be off the hook.
The current hours for Leisure Street are by appointment Thursday and Friday, then 12-5 on Saturday and Sunday.
It is time to go to Leisure Street, have a great time and drink some great wine!
For more information please go to www.leisurestreetwinery.com.
By Dennis Miller