Fifth Generation Winegrower Karl D. Wente represents a new breed of winemaker. Well-versed in the chemistry and biology of winemaking and vineyard management, he maintains the traditional hands-on approach of previous generations of Wente family winemakers. “Successful winemaking remains a blend of insight and experience,” says Karl. “Consequently, there’s no substitute for time spent in the vineyards and winery.”
During the summer of 2002, Karl joined Wente Vineyards as a winemaker to oversee the production of the winery’s Estate Grown and small lot wines. His passion for artisinal, hand-crafted wines has led to the addition of limited release wines, The Nth Degree, and the development of a small lot winemaking facility within the main winery. Along with his interest in the technical aspects of winemaking, Karl is also an ardent viticulturalist. “We understand that continued emphasis on innovative farming and top quality fruit is key. Great wines truly do begin in the vineyard,” he says.
Today, Karl is responsible for all winemaking at Wente Vineyards. And, thanks to the efforts of the previous generations, he enjoys the benefits of state-of-the-art winemaking facilities and nearly 3,000 acres of vineyard in two premier coastal appellations. “We have a family legacy of innovation and accomplishment,” he says. “It’s a heritage that I’m honored to be a part of.”
Karl grew up working at Wente Vineyards and he chose to gain experience at other wineries, starting with The Peter Michael Winery in Sonoma. That was followed by a stint at Brown Brothers winery in northern Victoria, Australia, where Karl gained southern hemisphere experience before returning home to Wente Vineyards.
Karl graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Chemical Engineering, graduate school at the University of California at Davis, where he earned two Masters degrees: one in horticulture (viticulture) and one in food science (enology). Studying winemaking and viticulture at U. C. Davis is another family tradition. Karl’s father and uncle studied there, as did his great-grandfather in 1909, a year after the school was founded.
As an avid athlete and musician, Karl enjoys coaching high-school basketball, practicing yoga, and has a passion for playing guitar and composing music.