If you’re looking for a delicious and unique wine tasting experience check out Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California wine country.
Move over Napa Valley, Livermore Valley is the place to experience California wine country. Despite feeling off the beaten path for California’s wine scene, the region is actually the birthplace of California wine. Wente Vineyards opened in 1883, making it the country’s oldest, continuously operated, family owned winery.
Wente #MakeTime Campaign
This summer Wente Vineyards announced their #MakeTime initiative. Their goal is to increase awareness around unnecessary screen time and get people to put down their devices. They want to foster human connection and encourage people to do something that they love with the people they care about most instead of scrolling endlessly through their social media feed.
This video Wente created to celebrate the launch of the campaign is really beautiful. Hearing the amount of personal time these people could spend in front of a screen was really jarring. The scary thing is I’m sure my own number would be much higher.
Visiting Wente Vineyards in Livermore
As a part of my own commitment to #MakeTime, I set up a visit to Wente Vineyards to try their amazing wines and also eat at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. A day of food + wine was the perfect way to relax and unplug. Luckily my friend Cynthia was also in need of a technology detox so we made it a girl’s day.
Wente has estate grown vineyards in the Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco, Monterey. They make something for everyone, from Chardonnay to Sparkling Wine, and with a variety of price points.
The Wente family is involved with all aspects of wine production. Don’t think they have it easy though. Any Wente that goes into the family business has to go to school and work their way up the ladder – just like everyone else! The #MakeTime philosophy has fueled the generations of families in everything they do. When Karl Wente, 5th generation winemaker and winegrower, is not tending to the family business, he makes time for music as a guitarist in his band.
A Focus on Sustainable Farming
I love that Wente is focusing on sustainability. They use recycled organic soil for their grapes and reduce water through drip irrigation. On-site weather stations help guide water use. They are even experimenting with combinations of natural oils such as clove, black pepper and cinnamon to control pests. Birds of prey and air cannons also help to manage larger pests in a natural way.
Even the vegetables for the Restaurant at Wente are farmed in a sustainable way – but more on that later.
There’s a cork tree on the property near The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. Take a minute to touch the bark – it’s so squishy. Cork is actually a precious resource and becoming more limited. Wente has a cork recycling program on the property.
Wine Tasting at Wente Vineyards
We started our afternoon at Wente Vineyards with a tasting. Wente has two tasting rooms – one is the Estate Tasting Room on Tesla road and the Vineyard Tasting Room is on Arroyo Road.
We started with some bubbly – the best way to start every occasion! Wente Brut is made in the traditional Methode Champenoise (Champagne Method).
The tasting was super educational and went through everything from stages of wine production to curating premium vines.
As we moved through each wine in our tasting, I learned about their production and the characteristics that make them unique.
nth Degree Wines
The Nth Degree Wines are part of the Wente Vineyards portfolio, showing the best of the best, regardless of vintage or variety. The vines are carefully pruned and receive multiple passes so the grapes have more space to grow and then harvested by hand. Obviously because I have exceptional taste, they were also my favorite wines. 🙂 I really, really loved the Nth Degree Pinot Noir. It was so complex with notes of sweet cherry but still a little tart. I’m actually working on a very special recipe that pairs with it to share right here on A Side of Sweet.
Aroma Class at Wente Vineyards
Wente Vineyards has a variety of classes and experiences, from a Blending Class where you create your own bottle of wine to a Food and Wine Pairing class. We took an Aroma Class with Suzanne, which was a unique experience!
As you can see, there was an entire table filled with different aromas for us to sniff and appreciate individually. The idea was to make us better at appreciating the unique aromas of wine. It definitely worked! It was fun to isolate each smell and close my eyes and then think about the wines we were tasting. This was definitely one of the more unique experiences I’ve had at a winery.
Wine Caves at Wente Vineyards
Wente has the only wine caves in the Livermore wine region. The caves are a natural way to keep wine a consistent temperature even in the summer. It was certainly a welcome respite from the 90-degree weather during our visit. On Sundays they feature a wine and cheese tasting in the caves. If you have a large group you can also book a private tasting in the caves.
The Garden at Wente Vineyards
If you visit Wente Vineyards, you absolutely must book a tour of their incredible organic garden. The master gardener is Diane Dovholuk. She began her career as a server at The Restaurant thirty years ago and has slowly created her masterpiece of a garden over the past two decades. With the help of a few college interns and assistants, Diane plants, weeds, composts and harvests a bounty of produce from every inch of the garden. Her next project is starting an orchard.
Diane was a gracious and knowledgeable host who will definitely talk your ear off (in a good way!). I could have listened to her talk about her adventures creating the garden and the summer’s schedule of produce for hours. Events are hosted in the gardens all year round, from Garden Clubs to workshops. If you can fit a tour of the garden into your visit you are in for such a treat! You can see availability at wentevineyards.com/events.
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
After our tour of the garden, my stomach was growling with excitement because we were about to try all of Diane’s hard work thanks to the culinary magic of Chef Mike Ward at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards.
Talk about a picture perfect partnership! The dishes were beautiful and delicious.
When I asked Chef Ward about his inspiration, he said he has worked all over but there is “really nowhere like California.” He takes inspiration from the melting pot of California with our diverse cultures and access to food and flavors from all over the world.
In addition to the hyperlocal vegetables picked just feet away, Wente also has Wagyu beef from steers that are raised on the property. 100 head of cattle provide grass management and soil fertilization for the property, all while consuming two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon per day. Chef Mike swears it helps the meat marbleize better and makes it tender.
It might just work! Our steak was absolutely mouthwatering – perfectly cooked, juicy and tender.
I didn’t think I could eat another bite, but then they brought out the dessert menu.
Our meal was truly a five-star dining experience with exceptional service, food and, of course, Wente wine.
5565 Tesla Road
Livermore, CA 94550
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
Thanks so much to Wente Vineyards for sponsoring this post and reminding me to #MakeTime for the people and things that matter. All opinions are my own. Thanks so much for supporting the sponsors that help me bring you beautiful content!
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