The SOMM Journal

October / November 2015

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Page 90 of 132

90 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2015 Wente Vineyards is the oldest continu- ously operating family-owned winery in the nation—a fact that is clearly a point of pride with Karl Wente, the company's Senior Vice President of Winemaking and one of the fifth-generation Wentes running the Livermore winery, which is a registered California Historical Landmark. But Wente, while clearly proud of his family's 132-year tradition in vineyard management and winemaking, is equally eager to talk about the cutting-edge tech- nology and forward-thinking sustainability practices that put his winery at the fore- front of the industry. "I live by the mantra that good art- ists borrow and great artists steal," said Wente, who joined his family's company in 2002 after earning Master's degrees in viticulture and enology from U.C. Davis. "I want to steal all of the best ideas and prac- tices, old and new, to make me the most effective wine farmer and winemaker in the world." Systemic Sustainability In 2010, Wente Family Estates received a certification from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, a desig- nation that has been renewed every year since then. "Sustainability has been a huge part of my family's history here and it's what we're all about," Wente said. "If you take care of the soil, it leads to good, healthy grape vines." The Wentes also eschew monoculture. "We've had cattle, alfalfa, hay Wente Vineyards 2012 Southern Hills Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon. In the 19th century, California wine pioneer Charles Wetmore imported Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from Bordeaux to plant in his Livermore Valley vineyards. The descendants of these vines were selected by University of California at Davis to become a part of their Foundation nursery and are known as clones 7 and 8. Today, the Wente family farms approximately 400 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards using these two clones with appropriately selected root stocks. "I think the knowledge of the land is crucial—having the right grapevines planted in the right spots and know- ing how to take care of them."

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