Create. Reveal. Evolve.

Wente Family Estates Named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine

7 November, 2011

Livermore, CA  - Carolyn Wente, CEO and Fourth Generation Winegrower of America’s oldest continuously owned and operated winery, is pleased to announce that her family business has received the 2011 American Winery of the Year award from Wine Enthusiast magazine. Wente Family Estates is comprised of Wente Vineyards, Murrieta’s Well and Tamás Estates as well as entwine, a partnership between The Food Network and Wente Vineyards. Known as the Wine Star Awards for the last 11 years, the magazine honors international wine personalities who have had great influence on the world of wine.

Wente Family Estates joins an esteemed group of winners this year including Restaurateur of the Year Michael Mina, Winemaker of the Year Bob Cabral of Williams Selyem, and Georg & Maximillian Riedel as Generations of Innovation, among others.   Upon learning of the news, CEO Carolyn Wente stated, “This is really such a wonderful acknowledgement and recognition for the five generations of my family who have remained committed to the wine business.   We all love what we do and my two brothers Eric and Phil and my niece and nephew Christine and Karl are individually helping to build our company into a strong, relevant and quality driven winery in the 21st century.  We have built on the foundation laid by my great grandfather, Carl Wente, who came to this country as an immigrant in the late 19th century, to the Livermore Valley in 1883.”

This award comes at an auspicious time for the winery as 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of Chardonnay coming to America.  In 1912, Ernest Wente, son of founder Carl Wente, brought Chardonnay cuttings from Montpelier, France to California.  His plantings and experimentation with the Chardonnay clone began a chapter in California wine history that continues today.  Post Prohibition, Chardonnay plantings encompassed roughly 100 acres in California, and today nearly 100,000 acres are planted to Chardonnay and it is the top selling varietal in the country.   Over 75% of the Chardonnay planted in California is derived from the Wente clone, making the Wente family integral in the development of wine culture for Americans.

As one of the top 30 wine companies in America several years running, Wente Family Estates has established itself as a unique company given that it is family-owned, and all of its fruit is estate grown and sustainably farmed.   Due to the vision of CEO Carolyn Wente, the winery was also among the first to develop a wine country destination program when 25 years ago, Carolyn launched both an onsite fine dining restaurant, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, as well as the renowned Concerts at Wente Vineyards.   In 1998, the winery opened the Course at Wente Vineyards on property, an 18-hole championship course designed by Greg Norman. Blazing a trail that many would follow, Wente Vineyards made wine country more than just a casual stop by a tasting room to an entire wine country experience.

In 2008, on the occasion of their 125th anniversary, the Culinary Institute of America inducted Wente Vineyards’ founder Carl Heinrich Wente into the “Vintners Hall of Fame” as a “Pioneer.”  In 2010, the winery was named both Winery of the Year by the California Travel Industry Association and received the Lifetime Achievement award at the 2010 California State Fair. Several generations of sustainability efforts were also recognized when Wente Family Estates became among the first wineries to attain Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing status for its business and winemaking practices in 2010. Also in 2010, the Course at Wente Vineyards became a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by the Audubon International Program, recognized for its commitment to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property as part of its holistic sustainability mandate.

With the Winery of the Year Award, Wente Family Estates is recognized in good company in the Winery of the Year category with previous recipients J. Lohr, Trinchero Family Estates and Concannon.  The winners will be announced in the December 15th issue of Wine Enthusiast and a private ceremony honoring the awardees will be held at the New York Public Library on January 30, 2012.

About Wente Vineyards
Founded in 1883, Wente Vineyards is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery. Today, Wente Vineyards is led by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. More than 128 years of committed stewardship to the land led to the development in the 1990s of Wente Vineyards’ Farming for the Future program, a system of sustainable viticultural practices designed to produce the best quality wines with the least environmental impact. This philosophy extends to all aspects of winery operations, where energy efficiency, waste reduction, recycling and social responsibility are all integral to the culture.

Located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards is recognized as one of California’s premier wine country destinations, featuring wine tasting, fine dining and championship golf. For more information, visit

About The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards is an accurate reflection of the entire Wente Vineyards experience: estate grown, family owned, sustainable.  When guests visit The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, it is almost as if they have been invited into the Wente family dining room.  Featuring ingredient-driven California Wine Country cuisine, recently appointed Executive Chef Matt Greco offers seasonal dishes sourced from the Vineyard’s magnificent herb and vegetable garden.  With a wine list of 400 West Coast wines, The Restaurant provides guests with numerous wine pairing options for each dish.  The Restaurant serves lunch and dinner, with brunch service on Sunday. The telephone number for reservations and information is (925) 456-2450 or online at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards is located at 5050 Arroyo Road in Livermore Valley, CA.

About The Concerts at Wente Vineyards
Fine wine and food, complemented by gracious, personal service, are the hallmarks of the Wente Vineyards concert experience.  Concerts are held at the beautiful Wente Vineyards Restaurant and Event Center, located at 5050 Arroyo Road, in a picturesque valley a few miles south of the town of Livermore.   Seating is in a terraced amphitheater surrounded by gardens, hillsides and tile-roofed winery buildings recreated in the style of old California.   Patrons can choose either a four-course dinner in the award-winning The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, followed by reserved, stage-front seating, or a buffet-style dinner at tables of ten on the lawn.  The intimate nature and the limited number of tickets sold guarantee that every seat offers guests an outstanding entertainment experience.

About The Course at Wente Vineyards
The Course at Wente Vineyards opened in July 1998.  Designed by golfing great Greg Norman, the 18-hole championship course is a picturesque 7,181-yard, par-72, upscale, daily-fee golf course tucked away in the scenic, rural Livermore Valley, 50 minutes east of San Francisco.  With three distinct topographies - native woodlands, mature vineyard and rolling hills of natural grasslands - The Course at Wente Vineyards offers extraordinary visual panoramas and a diversity of play unmatched in the Bay Area.   Additionally in early 2010 and then again in 2011, the Course received the prestigious Audubon Certification in recognition of maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas throughout the course.  For tee times call 925-456-2425 or visit online at The Course is located at 5040 Arroyo Road in Livermore, CA.

About Murrieta’s Well
Murrieta’s Well is a Livermore Valley wine estate defined by its distinctive blended wines, stunning location, and a rich heritage that began in California’s Gold Rush era. In 1990, Fourth Generation Winemaker Philip Wente and Winemaker Sergio Traverso merged old and new winemaking styles, reviving the historic winery originally established by Livermore Pioneer Louis Mel.  Set in the heart of the Livermore Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), Murrieta’s Well is located 40 miles east of San Francisco. The site is located on a natural water source at the base of the Arroyo Mocho where the legendary gold rush era bandito Joaquin Murrieta is known to have frequented the artesian well in front the winery. It is for him that the winery is named.

About Tamás Estates
Founded in 1984, Tamás Estates is part of the Wente Family Estates portfolio, sharing in the family's 128-year commitment to fine winemaking and land stewardship. Sourced from the Wente family’s estate vineyards in the Central Coast appellation, the wines of Tamás Estates are food friendly, delicious and offered at price points that allow for everyday enjoyment. The core portfolio includes Pinot Grigio, Zinfandel and Double Decker Red with wine club only offerings as well.

For more information, interviews and imagery please contact Charles Communications Associates at 415|701-9463 or Kimberly Charles at

#   #   #