Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and winemaking in the Livermore Valley region. This column information was contributed by the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

The Italian game of bocce is fun for people of all ages. Pair it with wine country hospitality and a glass of local vino for the adults, and you have a relaxing, memorable afternoon. Livermore Valley is home to several wineries with bocce ball courts open to the public.

Garré Winery on Tesla Road has the longest history of pairing bocce with wine in the valley.

"Our regulation-size bocce courts are filled with crushed granite in the Italian tradition," says Gina Molinaro-Cardera, vice president of Garré Winery. "The courts add to our old-world Italian hospitality, and the opportunity to have good times and create memories with family and friends that Garré strives to offer all our guests."

A fun compliment to the beautiful new Bella Rosa Event Center at Garré, the two outdoor bocce courts are located next to the tasting room and can accommodate up to 20 people. Customers who purchase tastings or bottles of wine can play for free (first-come, first-served), unless the courts are reserved. The courts are available for private party rentals (fee required) and will be open Friday evenings with food service when the new Garré Cafe in the Vineyards opens later this summer. Details at www.garrewinery.com.


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The synthetic grass courts at McGrail Vineyards and Winery on Greenville Road are the newest spot to play bocce in Livermore Valley. The courts opened June 1 and will soon host tournaments and other fun events.

"You can't beat the view," says tasting room manager Shannon McGrail. "Our courts are situated with views of Greenville Road's rolling hills, Mount Diablo and the gorgeous Livermore Valley."

McGrail's bocce courts are available noon to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday for groups of two to eight people. There is a $10-per-person fee (wine club members must purchase wine to play), and reservations are recommended at www.mcgrailvineyards.com.

The crushed rock bocce court at BoaVentura de Caires Winery on Tesla Road is open whenever the tasting room is open, which is always the first weekend of each month and other random weekends. Check the event calendar on the winery website, www.boaventuravineyard.com, for the schedule. No purchase or reservations are required to play -- it's first-come, first-serve.

"We've had the bocce court since our winery opened to the public in 2005," says owner Monique Caires. "It's outdoors and open to the elements. It has its own groves and bumps, which makes it unique."

For help planning your wine tasting trip to Livermore Valley's wine country, please visit www.LVwine.org.

Wine Country Events

  • Wine and Music with Clark Smith -- 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday at Wente Estate Vineyards, 5565 Tesla Road in Livermore; www.LVwine.org. Cost is $50. Prepare to be amazed with the newest wine pairing -- music! Winemaker, professor and author Clark Smith will show how harmonizing wine and music can be a perfect pairing and help you tap into memorable peak experiences. Smith will be joined by fellow musician and winemaker Karl Wente as they open your eyes to how your wine preference can be strongly influenced by music. Stay for a private concert to savor the music and wine.

  • From Vine to Glass: Through the Eyes of the Winemaker -- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at McGrail Vineyards and Winery, 5600 Greenville Road in Livermore; www.LVwine.org. Cost is $45. Winemaker Mark Clarin will lead you on a tour from the vineyard to the crush pad and into the barrel room for an educational tour and tasting. Sip award-winning cabernets and learn the process involved in creating these fine wines. You will taste through five wines walk through our vineyard (wear comfy shoes) and end up at a seated tasting in the barrel room (wear layers).