Thursday - Wente Family Estates, Livermore

Tour, tasting & lunch

Founded more than 125 years ago in Livermore. Wente Family Estates is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family owned winery established in 1883. Today the winery is run by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente Family who own 3000 acres in the historic Livermore Valley and a further 1000 acres in Monterey, therefore all of their wines are made solely from estate grown fruit.

Our visit was hosted by Christine Wente, fifth generation of the family, whose brother, Karl, is one of the winemakers. We were taken on a very in depth tour of the winery with Christine and two of the current winemakers which made for a very detailed and informative experience. We enjoyed tasting from barrel in the cellars and tasting the characteristic differences between the two regions where they farm grapes.

Two of the winemakers at Wente Family Estates
The tour was then followed by a power tasting (by this I mean very quick tasting, hence the brief tasting notes) of just some of their range;

Pinot Grigio Double Decker 2011
Citrus style characteristics. Not loads going on, but since when has Pinot Grigio had a big personality?!

Sauvignon Blanc Louis Mel 2010
Very clean, ripe fruit, balanced and with softness yet citrus fresh at the same time. The softness I assume comes from the little bit of Semillon that is added to the blend.

Chardonnay Morning Fog 2010
50% barrel, 50% stainless steel fermentation followed by 6 months in oak. Lovely rich texture, balanced, some exotic fruit.

Chardonnay Riva Ranch 2010
From the Arroyo Seco area of Monterey, named after Ralph Riva, who was one of the vineyard managers who had worked for the family for 30 years.  More tropical fruit, more luscious and beautifully balanced with depth. Possibly my favourite wine here!

Chardonnay The Nth Degree
The name for this range of wines is given because they show off the best of the winery and everything is done to the nth degree; intense farming, hand sorting, hand harvest, best barrels money can buy, lees stirring by hand and limited production. The wines have the Karl Wente (winemaker) signature on the labels too which shows how rightly proud they are of the range. Much richer and more complex.

Zinfandel Double Decker 2011
Light hearted, playful and bright. Raspberry nose, very jammy and juicy but fresh. Fun and approachable.

Red Blend Double Decker 2010
A blend of Cabernet, Petit Syrah and Barbera. It’s got some peppery structure and it’s really easy drinking but I couldn’t help thinking it was a little clumsy on the palate.

Merlot 2009
Violet, floral note, cherries, plums, medium body.

Pinot Noir Reuz Creek 2009
From Arroyo Seco, Monterery. Good concentration of flavour.

Cabernet Sauvignon Wente 2009
Balanced, soft and supple. Maybe a little too warm, but still a good BBQ style wine.

Zinfandel Beyer Ranch 2009
Good fruit characteristics and cracked black pepper adding complexity

Cabernet Sauvignon Charles Wetmore 2009
Aromas of leather, pencil shavings and iron. Rich and big.

Merlot Nth Degree 2008
Great intensity of rich plum fruit.

Cabernet Sauvignon Nth Degree 2009
Mocha, chocolatey nose, layered, complex.

We also tasted some wines from Murrietta’s Well (owned by the Wente Family);
The beautiful tasting room at Murrietta's Well

The Whip 2010
Really intricate, interesting blend. Pretty and aromatic, generous yet fresh and refreshing. It’s got some great Alsatian characteristics. The kind of wine you struggle not to fall in love with!

The Spur 2009
A Bordeaux style blend that’s wonderfully supple.


Touriga Los Tesoros 2010
Deep purple colour, fruit cake, cinnamon and clove aromas. Brooding, deep, dark and mysterious. ‘Los Tesoros’ translates to ‘the treasures’ which is a stamp of the limited release of this wine.

I wish we had more time here as Wente Family Estates is about much more than simply great wine. Wente can provide the whole entertainment experience including outside concerts headlined by well known acts, championship golf with a course designed by Greg Norman, and fine dining at their on site restaurant (which we did experience for lunch!) A really great bunch of down to earth people and great wines – thank you to all.

  • Comments: 0 (see below)

Posted on 04/07/2012
by Danielle
in categories:
California 2012,


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