Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and winemaking in the Livermore Valley region. This column was contributed by Donna Flavetta, owner of Elliston Vineyards.

Winery name: Elliston Vineyards

About us: Elliston Vineyards is located on the historic Elliston estate in Sunol. The estate was built in 1890 by Henry Hiram Ellis, a former San Francisco police chief. Historians agree that vineyards were planted and wine was made at that time. The 17-room, three-story, neo-Romanesque mansion has graceful stone arches and 32-inch thick walls made of blue sandstone that was quarried in nearby Niles Canyon. My parents, Ramona and Amy Awtrey, bought the estate in 1969 and carefully restored and furnished it with period pieces. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places.

They started Elliston Vineyards in 1982, converting the original carriage house into a winery and replanting the three-acre estate vineyard with chardonnay. When my parents retired in 1992, I took over with the help of my two boys, Mark and David.

Our wines: Our winemaker is my son, Mark Piche, who tries as much as possible to source our grapes from the Livermore Valley. The wines that these grapes produce are excellent. Elliston Vineyards offers champagne, pinot blanc, pinot gris, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, pinot noir and merlot.

Our champagne has become very popular through the many weddings we host and for its price of $14 a bottle. The cabernet franc is our most expensive wine at $22 per bottle.


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Special features: Elliston is a beautiful special event facility, and we host many weddings, social and business lunches and dinners. The lush grounds tucked into the quiet Sunol Canyon feature native landscape, manicured lawns and a latticed redwood arbor alongside the sandstone mansion.

Among the oak trees is our 2,000-square-foot Terrace Room that can accommodate up to 125 guests for a wedding reception. The secluded deck shaded by the hills of the Pleasanton Ridge surrounds the Terrace Room for additional outdoor dining. Both areas combined can accommodate up to 225 guests.

We also host special events such as our Mansion Winetaster Dinners.

Hours and tasting fee: Wine tasting at Elliston is complimentary. Our hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Where is the winery? We are at 463 Kilkare Road in Sunol.

How to reach us: Our phone number is 925-862-2377, and our web address is www.elliston.com. Visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/Elliston.vineyards

wine country events

  • Sunset Sip & Shop -- Sixteen Livermore Valley wineries will pour their wines for the Sunset Sip & Shop at the new Livermore Premium Outlets. Priced at just $16 each, tickets to this popular event include 16 one-ounce pours and a logo wine glass. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.LVwine.org. The cost is $16, and the event is from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 16 at 2774 Paragon Outlets Drive, Livermore, CA 94551.

  • Amor de Les Chenes -- Come in and enjoy our new release -- 2010 deux rouge, a cab/syrah cuvee -- with the one you love. we are pairing our deux rouge with a cup of chocolate souffle drizzled with syrah sauce. The Cost is $5 for the event from noon to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 16-17 at Les Chenes Estate Vineyards, www.leschenesvine.com, 5562 Victoria Lane, Livermore, CA 94550.