Monday, August 25, 2008

Wente Vineyards in Livermore

The day started off with overcast and the typical Bay Area morning fog. But by noon the skies had cleared and it was a beautiful blue sunny day, the perfect weather for a trip out to the Livermore Wine Country.

Founded in 1883 by C. H. Wente, the Wente Vineyards is now managed by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. The winery and tasting room is on Tesla Road along side many of the Livermore Valley wineries. But they also have tucked away back in the hills a beautiful Golf Course and restaurant at the Wente Vineyards Event Center & Vineyard Tasting Room

While many of Wente’s wines are of the large production type, which may be found at your local grocery store, they also produce many higher-end wines from small production lots which may only be purchased directly from the winery such as the “Small Lot” and “Nth Degree” series. These are the wines which are worth exploring!

Wente offers three different groups of tastings or “flights,” two of which are $5 and the third is $10. On Saturday I tasted the “Harvest Flight” ($5) at the event center.

The first wine in the line up was the 2007 Riva Ranch Chardonnay ($19.95). This white wine is a little heavy on the oak. The oak flavor in a wine (if any) should be a nuance to the wine and not a dominating characteristic. Otherwise this wine had a nice complexity, crisp acidity, some mango, peach and apricot flavors and a rich buttery feel that continues to linger after the heavy wood has faded.

The second wine of the flight was the 2006 Grenache ($34.95). This wine is light ruby in color with a hint of cranberry on the nose, cheery on the front of the palate followed by a little cedar, mild earth tones and a mild spicy cinnamon and “heat” in the follow through. Overall a nice wine but a little too steep in the pocket book.

The third in the line up was the 2005 Charles Wetmore Cabernet Reserve Sauvignon ($24.95). The wine is a light claret in color with mild oak and vanilla on the nose. This lighter styled Cabernet has soft tannins accented with Bing cherries and mild blackberries. This cab was “okay” but it really isn’t my style.

The fourth wine was the 2006 Syrah ($34.95), which reminded me why I prefer a Petite Syrah. It had a dry chalky feel which might be fine if I was drinking this with food, but on its own I didn’t care for it.

The final tasting of the day was the 2006 Cabernet Franc ($34.95) which surprisingly my favorite in this flight. I usually do not care for an unblended Cab Franc but this one was really nice! On the nose it has strong bell pepper, green olive and Portobello mushroom aromas. On the palate, it has a rich fresh feel as I detected a little thin mint chocolate. While the price tag may be a little steep, this one is worth taking home!

To see more pictures of Wente Vineyards, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

To visit or for more information:

Wente Vineyards
5050 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550
Phone: 1-925-456-2400