Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and wine making in the Livermore Valley region. This column was contributed by Carol Howell, co-founder of Bent Creek Winery.

Winery name: Bent Creek Winery

Owners: Pat and Tom Heineman and Carol and Rich Howell

About us: Bent Creek Winery is the result of four friends' interest in wines, wine growing and wine making.

When Pat and Tom Heineman, purchased property in Livermore in 1980, opening a winery was not in their plans. They wanted to own land "out in the country" and chose the location for its beauty and serenity.

Pat and I met as fellow elementary school principals in Livermore's school district, where her husband, Tom, was the director of curriculum and technology. My husband, Rich, was a physicist at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. The four of us share many common interests including the enjoyment of good wine.

In 1997, Pat and Tom planted a Syrah vineyard on their land. After tasting wine made by other wine makers from the fruit of this thriving vineyard, the four of us considered opening a small winery. We took enology classes at UC Davis together, and established Bent Creek Winery in 2002.


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Our winery is nestled in the rolling hills southeast of Livermore. With the backdrop of an oak-dotted ridge and surrounded by vineyards, the winery commands spectacular views of the valley. Bent Creek Winery visitors enjoy quality, handcrafted wines in a serene setting that seems miles away from the pressures of civilization.

Our wines: The four of us work together on every aspect of wine production, from caring for the vines, to pressing the grapes, to greeting visitors in the tasting room. Our goal is to craft small lots of complex wine primarily from the grapes grown in the Heineman's vineyard and other Livermore Valley vineyards.

Bent Creek wines have won awards at local, state and international wine competitions. We offer a variety of prize-winning ports and red and white wines.

Wine cost: Currently, our least expensive wine is our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($15), a light, bright wine bursting with crisp, fresh citrus flavor. Our most expensive is our 2009 Petite Sirah ($28). The winner of a gold medal at the Orange County Wine Competition, it is a bold wine with a fine balance of rich, dark fruit bolstered with black pepper.

Hours & tasting fee: Our tasting room is open noon to 4:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday, and other times by appointment.

There is a $5 per person tasting fee, payable on arrival, for groups of six or more. When a group member buys Bent Creek wine, his/her tasting fee is refunded. We can accommodate groups of up to 12 on our patio and groups of up to 30 in the pavilion next to our tasting room. Groups may be seated at tables for a private wine tasting.

Where is the winery? We are at 5455 Greenville Road. Livermore.

Reach us: Online at www.bentcreekwinery.com; call 925-455-6320 or e-mail winery@bentcreekwinery.com to schedule a special tasting or event

wine country events

  • Winter Wonderland and Wine Tasting -- Noon-5:30 p.m. Jan. 19, Las Positas Vineyards & Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery, 3053 Marina Ave. and 1828 Wetmore Road, Livermore. Cost $10. Enjoy a winter wonderland event with fine wine and food at both wineries. www.rmwinery.com or www.laspositasvineyards.com

  • White Crane Charity Crab Feed -- 6-10 p.m. Jan. 26, Veterans Memorial Building, 522 S. L Street, Livermore. Cost: $45.95. White Crane Winery's 10th annual charity crab feed benefits children with autism. Beer and wine bar, auciton, dancing, live music by Papas Garage. Reservations required: www.whitecranewinery.com.