As someone who loves food memories, it’s exciting to have the chance to meet a fifth generation winegrower, Karl Wente of Wente Vineyards, and hear the history of his family’s vineyard.
Recently, I was invited to breakfast to do exactly that. I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Karl Wente of Wente Vineyards, which is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery.
I met Karl at Verandah, inside the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas. We sat in their garden terrace, overlooking the pool, where we immediately caught the eye of guests at other tables who noticed we were having wine with our breakfast. Well, of course! Why not?
We began chatting with Karl and learning about the history of the Wente Family Estates. With over a century of history, there was so much to learn and I’m eager to share some of the details I found most intriguing….plus my thoughts on the three wines that Karl brought with him.
Can you imagine working in the same business that your ancestors began 130 years ago? That’s the life of Karl and his sister, Christine, as well as several other family members. The Wente Vineyards started 1883 with Carl H. Wente. He was a German immigrant who purchased 48 acres of land in the Livermore Valley and built the winery.
In 1912, Ernest Wente, son of the founder Carl Wente, took an interest in Chardonnay while attending UC Davis. He convinced his father to import cuttings from the vine nursery at the University of Montpelier. This was the start of Wente Vineyards 100 years of involvement with Chardonnay.
I also learned that Wente Vineyards was the first winery in California to varietally label Sauvignon Blanc (in 1934) and also the first one to varietally label Chardonnay (in 1936). As someone born and raised in California, I was quite proud to know all this went down in my home state.
During our breakfast, we had the pleasure of enjoying the Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay 2010, Arroyo Seco, Monterey. This wine had flavors of tropical fruits, such as mango, papaya, and guava. While I sipped it, it seemed like a wine that my husband would definitely enjoy, and while I like the flavor too, it wasn’t my favorite of the tasting. I will tell you what my favorites were though…
Of the three wines we sampled during our breakfast, Murrieta’s Well, The Whip, 2010 Livermore Valley was one that was my top favorite.
With my limited wine experience, it was different than any other wine that I’ve had up to this point. The Whip is a white wine blend that consists of six different grape varietals: Chardonnay, Semillon, Gewurztraminer, Orange Muscat, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. Does that equal a great wine? I would say yes.
One thought I had when enjoying The Whip was that this would be perfect to go with our Thanksgiving dinner. I think most guests would enjoy it and it would pair well with the turkey and all the other side dishes. After our breakfast with Karl, I checked to locate where I could pick up another bottle of The Whip locally, but was disappointed to find that no listings for Las Vegas. Perhaps the wine finder was wrong, but luckily, I can buy a bottle online.
Did I save the best for last? Possibly.
Another wine we enjoyed was Double Decker Pinot Grigio 2010, Monterey. First, I fell in love with the label design. Isn’t it fabulous? I love everything about it. But, I was determined to not be swayed by the great label design. The result? I found another new wine that I enjoy. It gave me that feeling of a perfect, everyday casual wine. Something I could pour at almost any time of the day.
Overall, I do have to say that The Whip was my top favorite, with the Double Decker running a pretty close 2nd place. Both are different from each other, but quite enjoyable and wines I can pair with varies occasions in my own life.
The breakfast was delicious and the wines were even more so. And while I enjoyed my wine, I do have to say my favorite part was learning about the rich history of the Wente family, their wines, and their vineyards. Completely fascinating stuff.
Disclosure: I was invited to this complimentary breakfast with Karl Wente. I was not obligated or required to post about Wente Vineyards.