Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and winemaking in the Livermore Valley region. This column was contributed by Michelle Nuccitelli Rios, the director of Rios-Lovell Estate Winery.

Winery name: Rios-Lovell Estate Winery

Owner: Max Rios

About Us: My husband, Max Rios, purchased the property that is now Rios-Lovell Estate Winery back in 1976. Max raised cattle at the time and simply needed more property for his cow operation. Before the winery, Max was in law enforcement, working at San Quentin as a correctional officer and as a patrolman with the Oakland Police Department.

Today, Rios-Lovell grows 12 varieties of grapes spread out on about 64 acres of estate vineyards and produces approximately 30 different wines. We are heavily into reds and in the last four years have expanded into ports.

Our picturesque grounds feature an event center, concert center, tasting room, picnic grounds, gazebo and gift area surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and an outdoor Tuscan-style village. Rios-Lovell Winery's unique charm makes it the ideal place for everything from tantalizing your palette to hosting your special event.

Our wines: Grown, produced and bottled on site, Rios-Lovell wines have won many domestic and international awards. We produce more than 5,000 cases of wine each year and have two labels: Rios Reserve Estate and Rios-Lovell Estate Winery. We feature many varietals of grapes including merlot, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, Barbera, petite syrah, Sangiovese, zinfandel, cabernet franc, syrah, viognier and mourvedre.

Our best-selling wine is our Signature Meritage Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend. It is an award winner every time it is entered into a competition. Our least expensive wine is our Champagne at $15, and the most expensive is our 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon at $36 a bottle.

Holiday specials: During Holidays in the Vineyards, Livermore Valley's Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 wine country open house, Rios-Lovell Winery will offer award-winning ports for $20 per bottle and a 10 percent discount on our wines. We also will have hors d'oeuvres, local gift vendors and a limited quantity of our library wines: 2008 cabernet sauvignon and 2007 zinfandel.

Hours and tasting fee: Our tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. We charge a $5 fee for tasting.

Where is the winery? We are located at 6500 Tesla Road. Livermore, CA 94550, 925-443-0434, www.rioslovellwinery.com.

wine country events

  • Holidays in the Vineyards -- noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 1-2. Join us for an annual wine country tradition! Wineries across the region will showcase their tasting rooms with arts and craft vendors, special wines, festive activities, Santa visits, carolers, and more. More than 40 Livermore Valley Wineries will take part. Cost: free admission, tasting fees vary by winery. Visit www.LVwine.org.

  • Artist Reception -- 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 9. Join Wente Vineyards for a reception showcasing oil paintings by James Rebello. Artwork will be on display in the Estate Winery Tasting Room through December. For more information call 925-456-2305. Cost: free. Wente Vineyards Estate Winery & Tasting Room, 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore, CA, 94550 or visit www.wentevineyards.com.