For the Love of the Journey
Chapter One The Beginning
Our story began in 1883, when German immigrant, C.H. Wente made the voyage to America with the dream of creating a better life. After studying winemaking under Charles Krug in Napa Valley, he immediately knew he had discovered a passion and focus amongst the vineyards. He soon met and married Barbara Trautwein, and they moved to the Livermore Valley to pursue his new career. Unlike others of the time who started wine businesses as a hobby, C.H. Wente made his pursuit a lifelong commitment. His original 47 acres quickly grew to 200 acres before the constraints of Prohibition hit. To his seven children he was a father who emphasized hard work, but as he would say, “Work made life sweet.”
Chapter Two Pursuit of Quality
After repeal, C.H.’s sons, Ernest and Herman Wente, took over the business and began prominently featuring the family’s name on the label - Wente Bros. Ernest was the farmer, who focused on improving quality by importing rootstock and implementing better vineyard management techniques and winemaking practices. His work with the Wente Chardonnay clone would earn the family the title of California’s First Family of Chardonnay. His brother Herman was the businessman with a vision of reviving America’s love of wine that most people had forgotten during Prohibition. He spent much of his time educating the public and promoting the quality of the wines that were produced in California. A direct result of his efforts was the formation of The Wine Institute, an organization focused on improving the overall perception of California wines.
Chapter Three A Tale of Two Regions
When third generation winegrower Karl L. Wente was of age, he quickly took charge of the winery, working alongside his father and uncle. Uncertain of the future effects of urbanization in the Livermore Valley, and knowing he needed to sustain the family’s winegrowing legacy, he looked for other regions that could grow high quality wine grapes. In 1963, he discovered Arroyo Seco in Monterey, a rugged region with long, cool growing seasons, loamy soils, and close proximity to quality water. The area clearly had great potential, but no matter how promising it was, establishing a new wine region is always an arduous process. Nevertheless, he made the decision to purchase 300 acres of apricot orchards from Alfred Riva and eventually replanted the property to vines. The site is now home to our Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Chapter Four Generations Learning from Generations
Although they didn’t know it when they were bumping around in the bed of a pickup truck, rolling through the vineyards and fields of the lush, quiet Livermore Valley, Fourth Generation Wentes, Eric, Philip and Carolyn, were learning everything they needed to know about the vineyards. “My grandfather (Ernest) and Dad (Karl) were always picking my brothers and me up and driving around the vineyard,” says Carolyn Wente, now CEO of Wente Vineyards. “They would tell us about the vineyards, the vines, the pests, the soil, everything. While we were learning, it was always fun.” This is a large part of what defines the Wente family legacy - generation after generation, they taught each other and benefited from the experiences of their predecessors. They built a place in the wine world by learning and cultivating what came before them. Today, Wente Vineyards is the oldest, continuously-operated, family-owned winery in America and the family continues to work together to reinforce the winery’s position as an international leader in wine and wine country experiences.
These vineyards are our legacy to our children - the fifth generation of the Wente family and beyond - and we make every effort to preserve what nature has so generously provided.Philip Wente, Fourth Generation Winegrower
Chapter Five Continuation of the Journey
For Fifth Generation Winemaker Karl D. Wente, the unassuming grapevine is mesmerizing. “I get told every day by a non-human how I’m doing in life,” he says “and that can keep you pretty humble.” He now pays homage to his family legacy by crafting a great portfolio of wines that are 100% Estate Grown and Certified Sustainable. “To me, I’m proud that my family has been committed to the soil and climate of Livermore Valley for five generations and Arroyo Seco since the 1960's, and that we have always had a philosophy of delivering thoughtfully balanced, food-friendly wine, with a sense of place.”