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|Location||Livermore, California, USA|
|Appellation||Livermore Valley AVA|
|Formerly||Wente Brothers Vineyard|
|Other labels||The Nth Degree
|Key people||Karl D. Wente, Winemaker|
|Known for||Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon|
|Varietals||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling|
Wente Vineyards is a winery in Livermore, California and holds the distinction of being "the oldest continuously operating, family-owned winery in California." The Wente Estate is registered as California Historical Landmark #957.
Founded in 1883, Wente Vineyards is the oldest continuously-operated, family-owned winery in the country; owned and managed by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. The winery draws from nearly 3,000 acres of Estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay and Arroyo Seco, Monterey appellations to create an outstanding portfolio of fine wines. Wente Vineyards is distributed in all 50 states and in over 70 countries worldwide. In 2010, Wente Vineyards was among the first wineries to receive the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing designation, and one of the only wineries to certify every aspect of its business. In 2011, Wente Family Estates was named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast and a top 30 wine company by Wine Business Monthly. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Wente family bringing Chardonnay cuttings to California. Today, a majority of all California Chardonnays derive from the Wente clone.
Located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards is recognized as one of California’s premier wine country destinations. The property features wine tasting, world-class concerts, award-winning fine dining and championship golf. For more information, visit www.wentevineyards.com.
The Wente family’s connection with Chardonnay began with second generation Winegrower Ernest Wente, while he was a student at the University of California at Davis. In 1912, with the help of UC Davis employee Leon Bonnet, Ernest persuaded his father and winery founder Carl Wente, to import cuttings from the vine nursery at the University of Montpellier in France. Around the same time, Ernest Wente also sourced budwood from the Gier Vineyard in Pleasanton. He planted the two sources in his family’s Livermore Valley vineyard and over the next 30-40 years, selected vines that showed favorable traits, and re-planted them to establish the Wente Clone of Chardonnay2.
Starting in the 1940’s and throughout the 1950’s, the Wente clone began to spread across the state to other wineries, most notably Stony Hill, Louis Martini and Hanzell. The Martini family’s Stanly Lane vineyard became the source for UC Davis trials in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, where Dr. Harold Olmo identified several selections that produced better yields and a more even crop. These were eventually taken to Foundation Plant Services (FPS) at UC Davis and heat-treated, becoming known as “heat treated Wente clones,” which consisted of clones FPS 04, 05, 06 and 083.
The Wente clone of Chardonnay lends its parentage to several other clones of Chardonnay that have been certified by FPS: FPS 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 67, 72, 79, 80, 97 and Hyde. The most famous and widely distributed of all the clones that derived from the Wente plantings, FPS 04, eventually became the most widely planted Chardonnay selection in California4.
In 1976, the Judgment of Paris featured a 1973 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena that consisted largely of the Wente clone of Chardonnay. When that wine bested some of France’s most prestigious whites in a blind tasting, California Chardonnay plantings grew exponentially from 2700 acres in 1970 to 11,000 acres in 1980 to 45,000 acres in 1985.
Currently, there are almost 100,000 acres of Chardonnay planted in California and it has become the number one selling wine varietal in the US6. With much of that Chardonnay originating from the original Wente clone, the family has certainly earned the title as “California’s First Family of Chardonnay™”.
Today, Fifth Generation Winemaker Karl Wente carries on the family tradition of crafting Chardonnay with four different styles of wine; the lush Riva Ranch Chardonnay from Arroyo Seco, Monterey, the bright and crisp Morning Fog Chardonnay, the decadent and elegant Nth Degree Chardonnay and the Chablis-like Small Lot Eric’s Chardonnay.
Wente Family Estates consists of Wente Vineyards, Double Decker, TAMÁS Estates, Murrieta’s Well, entwine and Hayes Ranch wineries; owned and operated by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. Wente Family Estates’ wines are sold in all 50 states and in over 70 countries worldwide. In 2010, the company received certification for its sustainability efforts with the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing designation. In 2011, Wente Family Estates was awarded American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. All of the wines within the Wente Family Estates portfolio are handcrafted by Fifth Generation Winemaker Karl D. Wente.
Located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards is recognized as one of California’s premier wine country destinations. The property features wine tasting, world-class concerts, award-winning fine dining and championship golf.
- "Wente Bros. Winery". Office of Historical Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-03-30.