Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay
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.
Though the region is influenced predominantly by this cool marine cycle, the bowl shaped Livermore Valley is over twenty miles in length and has numerous microclimates and varied soil types. The winery’s Estate vineyards are located on sloping hillsides, on ancient stony riverbeds, along fertile valley floors and at the base of steep sandstone cliffs. The microclimate of each of these locations is particularly suited to specific grape varieties. The morning fog that lingers over the valley floor makes it a superb location for Chardonnay, while warmer temperatures in the region’s hillside vineyards allow varietals such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to develop to full maturity. “The incredible diversity of our vineyards allows us to cultivate wines with unique characteristics that tell the story of where they came from, says Fourth Generation Winegrower Phil Wente.
Arroyo Seco, Monterey
Karl L. Wente, grandson of the winery’s founder and grandfather of present winemaker Karl D. Wente, pioneered winegrowing in Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco district when he planted vineyards in the region in 1962. Like other winemakers to follow, he was impressed by the climate of the Arroyo Seco river region, the availability of excellent water, and the well-drained, rocky soils. The foresight of his decision is evidenced by the sustained production of critically acclaimed wines from the area.
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. The soil in the Arroyo Seco area is primarily elder loam, underlain by river stones deposited over thousands of years by the Arroyo Seco River. These “Greenfield Potatoes,” as they are known, are an integral part of the soil because they store and release heat and promote excellent drainage, keeping the vines’ vegetative growth and fruit production in balance.
Arroyo Seco, Monterey is a cooler region with an extended growing season, making it more favorable for cool-climate varietals. Soils replete with shale and limestone deposits provide excellent drainage and minerals that impart significant flavor components to the vines. These factors also result in smaller, more intense berries and concentrated flavors. Among the varieties planted are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Riesling.