Especially in America, even twenty-five years is a good stretch for a winery. So special congratulations are definitely in order to Wente Vineyards as it celebrates more than a hundred years longer than that. The 125th anniversary celebration is taking place throughout 2008, but in May things really heat up. Numerous events are slated to commemorate Wente’s status as the country’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery.
The Wente family is now in its fourth and fifth generation of management, and it’s worth noting that recently the vineyard, its wines, and all of the ancillary offerings from the Livermore winery have reached its stride. Drawing on decades of experience and family-honored tradition, Wente has achieved a deft mix of traditional and leading-edge winemaking practices, to coax ever-improving wines from its 3,000 acres of sustainably farmed estate vineyards. The winery has also nearly single-handedly put Livermore on the winemaking map.
Fittingly, the Wente 125 celebration gets underway in earnest the weekend of May 3 and 4, when the Livermore Valley Wine Festival takes place in downtown Livermore. Wente will be host of the festival’s “lifestyle pavilion” in which guests can enjoy tastings, attend seminars, and peruse educational information about the growth of the wine region and Wente’s role in it. The same weekend, Wente will hold its 125th Anniversary Weekend Jazz Celebration at the winery’s onsite restaurant. All of the planned festivities not only acknowledge the milestone anniversary, they point out the significant role Wente has had in shaping modern day California Wine Country. For instance, Wente was among the first to offer a restaurant–making the food and wine connection–and among the first to create a live music concert series–making the inextricable connection between wine and the good life (today, one of Northern California’s best golf courses is also here).
So while the winery has indeed come a long way since CH Wente emigrated from Germany and planted 47 acres in the East Bay, really they are still holding true to Wente family values more than a century later.