Karl D. Wente
Chief Winemaker and Fifth Generation Winegrower
Chief Winemaker and Fifth Generation Winegrower Karl D. Wente is responsible for all winemaking at Wente Vineyards. 2016 will be Karl's 17th vintage and the 15th at Wente Vineyards, working with the family’s estate-grown vineyards.
“To me it is a source of pride that my family has been the 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,” says Karl.
Being highly educated and experienced in both winegrowing and winemaking, Karl maintains the traditional hands-on approach of previous generations of Wente family winemakers. In the vineyards he nurtures no less than 33 grape varieties while in the winery he takes great pride in making balanced and thoughtful wines out of each of them. “Continued emphasis on innovative farming and top quality fruit are the keystones of winemaking. Great wines truly do begin in the vineyard. ” Karl says.
Since joining Wente Vineyards in the summer of 2002, Karl has overseen the production of the winery’s estate grown and small lot wines. His passion for artisanal, handcrafted wines has led to the addition of limited release wines, The Nth Degree series, as well as the development of a small lot winemaking facility within the main winery.
“Integrity, excellence, sustainability, and respect are truly the values that we share in my family. Integrity is simple. I can almost hear the words of Ernest Wente: 'you’ve got nothing without your word'. And sustainability has just been a part of our DNA since Carl Wente planted his first vine back in 1883,” says Karl.
Along with his interest in the technical aspects of winemaking, Karl is also an ardent viticulturalist. 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 appellations. “We have a family legacy of innovation and accomplishment,” he says. “It’s a heritage that inspires me and I am honored to be part of this legacy.”
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, then went to 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.
Karl is an avid skier, telemarker and mountain climber, and he loves playing tennis and basketball. He also has a passion for music, playing guitar, composing and performing with his band “The Front Porch.”