Wente Vineyards

Livermore, California, United States




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.

The Livermore Valley, with an east-west valley orientation, lies twenty miles east of the San Francisco Bay. The moderating effects of the Bay and the marine climate of the Pacific Ocean entering through the Golden Gate Gap significantly influence the climate of the region. During the growing season, cool and foggy mornings give way to warm midday temperatures. Then, early afternoon breezes and evening fog lower temperatures again, preserving the fruit’s natural acidity. This climactic cycle is beneficial to wine grapes, which need warmth for healthy growth, maturation, and development, and cool nights and mornings to retain delicate flavors.

Arroyo Seco is a sub-appellation within the Monterey AVA, with topography that begins in the west as a steep, narrow canyon and widens in the east as it nears the edge of the Salinas Valley floor. Arroyo Seco has many meso-climates, including the mouth of the canyon in the west, where red Bordeaux grape varieties flourish, warmed by reflective heat generated from the soil and nearby cliffs. The eastern part of the region is relatively cooler, due to strong Salinas Valley winds, providing ideal conditions for growing white Burgundy grape varieties.

Over a century ago, founder C.H. Wente, imported Chardonnay cuttings from the vine nursery at the University of Montpellier in France. Around the same time, he obtained Chardonnay budwood from the Gier vineyard in Pleasanton and planted them in the Livermore Valley. Over the next 30-40 years, Ernest selected vines that showed favorable traits, and re-planted them to establish the Wente Clone of Chardonnay. Herman and Ernest Wente released the nation’s first varietally labeled Chardonnay, a 1936 vintage. Chardonnay has become the #1 selling wine varietal in the US with almost 100,000 acres planted in California. 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 D. Wente continues the family’s legacy of Chardonnay with four different styles; Morning Fog Chardonnay, Riva Ranch Chardonnay, The Nth Degree Chardonnay and Small Lot Eric’s Chardonnay.