Information for this column was contributed by members of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association.

Each month, Livermore Valley wine country highlights a grape varietal grown in our region. September's featured varietal is rosé. Made from many different red grape varietals, rosé has a color similar to a red wine, but just enough to turn it a shade of pink. The red berry flavors of rosé are especially refreshing on cool autumn evenings and hot summer days. This wine style ranges in flavor from delicate, refined and dry to bright and sweet with a hint of creaminess.

"Rosé is special because of how it is made," says Karl Wente, a fifth-generation winemaker at Wente Vineyards. "Just a bit of skin contact time allows a small amount color to be extracted from the skin of the grapes to deliver the beautiful rose color."

According to Brent Amos, a winemaker at Las Positas Vineyards, "Rosé can be made from pretty much any red varietal, with each one having its own unique flavor profile and aromas. I generally tend to prefer rosé that is a blend of a few varietals, as this results in a more complex and interesting wine.

"At Las Positas, we decided to make our rosé in an off-dry style, meaning it has a little residual sugar. We wanted it to be a fun, refreshing wine to be enjoyed immediately and without pretension. It is the perfect wine for a picnic or to enjoy by the pool."

Salome Taylor, the general manager at Retzlaff Estate Winery, remembers that her mother-in-law, Gloria Retzlaff Taylor, had the idea to make rosé one year when the winery had an unusually abundant harvest of red wine grapes. "Rather than make and bottle cabernet, merlot and our famous blend, Gloria and Bob, her husband and winemaker, decided to make a rosé instead. They named it Isabelle's Blush after their granddaughter. Our rosé has a lovely rose petal pink color and hints of strawberry in the aroma accompanied by flavors of watermelon -- it's fruity but not sweet."

When tasting rosé, "look for flavors of strawberries, cherries, rose petal, rhubarb, raspberry and a touch of spice. It should be light-bodied, a pretty light red or pink, clear and bright, with a satisfying crisp finish, says Meredith Miles, winemaker at Fenestra Winery. "Rosé is especially good with ham, roast turkey or rich fish like salmon. It can easily stand up to grilled meats and vegetables and soft cheeses like triple cream brie."

Visitors will find rosé at these Livermore Valley wineries: Bodegas Aguirre Winery, Concannon Vineyard, Dante Robere Vineyards, el Sol, Fenestra Winery, Las Positas Vineyards, Les Chenes Estate Vineyards, Little Valley Winery, Longevity Wines, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Occasio Winery, Page Mill Winery, Retzlaff Estate Winery, Stony Ridge Winery, The Singing Winemaker, Thomas Coyne Winery, Wente Vineyards and White Crane Winery. To learn more, visit www.LVwine.org or www.discovercaliforniawines.com.

Wine Country Events

  • First Friday -- 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Nottingham Cellars, 2245 S. Vasco Road, Unit C in Livermore; www.nottinghamcellars.com. Enjoy wines sold by the glass and live music from local artist Chris Lebel.

  • James Vincent Retrospective Tasting -- 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 19 at McGrail Vineyards and Winery, 5600 Greenville Road in Livermore; www.mcgrailvineyards.com. Cost is $60. Take a journey through the past five years of McGrail's James Vincent Cabernet with samples from 2005-2009. Each wine will have a cheese paired. This small lot cabernet sauvignon is aged for almost three years in 100 percent new French oak and is the top of the winery's cabernet line. Reservations are required.

    Infobox1