The Wente Vineyards winery sits in the heart of Livermore, California, about 50 miles east of San Francisco. The five-generation long family-owned estate winery utilizes sustainable growing practices to produce consistent, focused wines. They're well worth seeking out at your local wine store.
One claim that Wente Vineyards shares with no one is the fact it is California's oldest, continuously owned and operated family winery. That means that no ubiquitous soft drink conglomerate bought them in the 1980s. Instead, it means that the Wente Vineyards is making wine with the fourth and fifth-generation of Wentes running the complete show. Collaboratively they manage vineyard, winery, and business operations. The proud Wente name is on their label and nobody else owns it or is responsible for it. The winery started with 46 acres in 1883 and with time has expanded to 2,000 acres in the AVA's of Livermore Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, with an additional 700 acres in Arroyo Seco of Monterey.
The Wente Wines
Wente offers multiple varietals within three designations:
These are easy-quaffing and budget-accessible wines produced from selected estate vineyards from Wente's Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco region. These varietals include the usual suspects.
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Cabernet Sauvignon
A step up from the Vineyard Selection, the Reserve wines are from the winery's best single vineyards that reflect the character of both varietal and terroir.
- Charles Wetmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
- Crane Ridge Reserve Merlot
- Riva Ranch Reserve Chardonnay
- Reliz Creek Pinot Noir
- Smith Bench Reserve Zinfandel
The Nth Degree
Wente's winemaker, Karl, a fifth generation Wente, personally handcrafts small lots of special release wines that are scarce and only available through the winery's wine club. The Nth Degree wines are a throwback to earlier artisan-style production. From the vine to the barrel, this artisan-style involves meticulous hands-on work from the Livermore Valley vineyards to the winery, melding the ancient craft with modern technology to make unique wines with distinction. Small lots means that meticulous care by vineyard workers limits the grape clusters for the best quality and fruit concentration. Wines are produced in a separate area of the winery under careful management to ensure these special wines stand apart.
- The Nth Degree Chardonnay
- The Nth Degree Syrah
- The Nth Degree Merlot
- The Nth Degree Cabernet Sauvignon
Sustainable Agriculture Practice
Wente practices sustainable agriculture in their vineyard and operations. In principle, this practice seeks to preserve and protect their vineyards' environment. To do this, Wente recycles cover crops for use as fertilizer and nutrients as a renewable resource in the vineyards. They also encourage bio-diversity to help minimize the use of pesticides or herbicides only when necessary, and they work to conserve water runoff and control erosion. Their aim is to ensure that future Wente generations will also have a chance to continue in the family's winemaking legacy.
Wente Vineyards welcomes visitors. Along with the typical winery wine tasting experience, Wente Vineyards also features a championship golf course designed by Greg Norman and a restaurant. The winery also hosts outdoor concerts, and serves as an ideal location for weddings and special events.
The next time you are in the Bay Area, take a side trip to Livermore and visit Wente Vineyards. With good food, good wine, and a lovely atmosphere, you'll be glad you did.