The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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20 / the tasting panel / february 2014 THE VOICE OF FIVE GENERATIONS T his month showcases a truly bizarre tradition. Every February 2nd, people around the country wait in anticipation of the weather predictions of a furry woodchuck. Folklore has it that if the groundhog sees its shadow, we can expect six more weeks of winter; if not, then it's an early spring. Groundhog Day has spurred festivals, celebrations and a particularly funny movie. While it all seems rather silly, the tradition has its origins in the reality that weather plays a big part in our daily lives. Just ask those that have dealt with a rather harsh winter recently. This is espe- cially true when it comes to farming and viticulture. We are truly blessedwith our location in the Livermore Valley in California. With rare exceptions, our climate from year-to-year is perfect for growing grapes that make great wine. The Livermore Valley lies seven miles east of San Francisco Bay. The moderating effects of the Bay and the marine climate of the Paciic Ocean entering through the Golden Gate Gap, along with the east-west orientation of the valley, signiicantly inluence the climate of the region. During the growing season, cool and foggy mornings give way to warm mid-day temperatures. Then early afternoon breezes and evening fog lower temperatures again, preserving the fruit's natural acidity. This climac- tic cycle is beneicial to wine grapes, which need warmth for healthy growth, maturation, and development and cool nights and mornings to retain delicate lavors. After 130 vintages, we now rely more on our many years of experience and modern technology to help us predict weather patterns and changes in climate, rather than a cute, furry rodent. "California's coastal valleys and their Mediterranean climate are rare and unique; less than one percent of the world's land mass has this inluence," says Fourth Generation Winegrower Philip Wente. "From too cool to ripen grapes to just warm enough to ripen late season reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, the Livermore Valley possesses this entire range, which allows us to perfectly site our grape varieties in estate vineyards across this range and achieve full maturation. The cool ocean breezes and morning fog have provided a con- sistent resource for Wente Vineyards to grow quality grapes for 131 years." So, regardless of whatever Punxsutawney Phil may predict for us this year, we're not worried. We've had 130 harvests to get used to the weather. —The Wente Family Groundhog Day

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