The Livermore Valley has long been a premier wine region. Beginning in the 19th century, vintners recognized the region’s climate and soils as highly suitable for wine-grape cultivation. By the turn of the century, the Valley was home to more than 5,000 acres of vineyards and over 50 wineries. Pioneering wine families had succeeded fabulously in cultivating high-quality wine operations. With award-winning wines and a fertile agricultural base, the Livermore Valley’s success was akin to that of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys to the north.
However, the next era in the Valley’s winemaking history ushered in an unfortunate sequence of grape surpluses, root louse and Prohibition. By 1933, only 12 wineries remained, and by the late 1960’s the Valley’s viticulture production had dwindled to only 1,500 vine-planted acres and six wineries.
The following decade saw a California wine renaissance that bypassed Livermore. With the rapid growth in Bay Area population, economy, and increasingly strong development pressures, both the Valley’s remaining agricultural lands and its potential to revitalize agriculture were threatened.
In response, the South Livermore Valley Steering Committee was formed in 1987 and by 1993 had created a comprehensive South Livermore Valley Area Plan (Plan) to provide strong economic incentives and equitable development regulations to promote investment in viticulture and ensure that development limits be placed on agricultural lands.
Following the County’s adoption of the Plan, the South Livermore Valley Agricultural Land Trust was established in 1994 as a 501(c) (3) non-profit, public benefit corporation to preserve and protect important agricultural and open space lands. The Land Trust’s original purpose was to permanently protect and steward a minimum of 5,000 acres of land within the Plan.
The land trust began as a seven member board with five members being appointed by local governments and vineyard advocacy groups. The original five members elected two other members as Directors-at-large. In 2002, the board added two additional at-large-directors for a total of nine directors. During this period, the land trust staff grew to a full-time Executive Director, Stewardship Director and Office Administrator.
In early 2003, a strategic planning process was initiated and the land trust board recognized the need to have a greater conservation presence in the region. The South Livermore Valley Agricultural Land Trust became the Tri-Valley Conservancy with an expanded geographic area covering the cities of Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and the Sunol area.