If there are two things the world of wine-making needs more of, it’s putting sustainability first and having strong women leadership. That’s exactly why we can’t get enough of California’s Wente Family Estates, winner of the 2022 Green Medal Leader Award (an honour that recognizes vineyards excelling in environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable practices) and owned and managed by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family, who continue the pursuit of excellent wine using knowledge passed down from their ancestors.
As the oldest continuously operating vineyard in the U.S., Wente has been focused on its eco-friendly mission before it was ever the “cool” thing to do. In 2010, Wente Family Estates was among the first wineries to receive the Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery designation, and one of the only wineries to certify every aspect of its business.
Women have also had a crucial voice and seat at the Wente table for decades, and today the brand is being shaped by three formidable women – two of them fifth generation winegrowers. Senior Viticulture and Vineyard Manager Niki Wente oversees the estate’s roughly 3,000 acres throughout the Central Coast of California. She makes critical decisions in the farming plans for over 200 blocks of varietals, leading her team towards improved efficiencies with a specific focus on vine health, fruit quality and sustainable vineyard practices. Aly Wente, Vice-President of Marketing and Customer Experience, is responsible for the overall marketing for Wente, along with developing unforgettable on-site experiences at the Wente Vineyards Tasting Lounge and The Grill at Wente Vineyards. And Elizabeth Kester has been making wines with Wente Vineyards since 2010. As Director of Winemaking, she drives innovation in the winery and implements the latest technologies to craft world-class wines. Her goal is to create delicious wines that express varietal typicity and honour the terroir where the grapes are grown.
While the Wente family is proud to be recognized as “California’s First Family of Chardonnay,” (the citrus-y and toasty Morning Fog Chardonnay, for example, is exceptional), the trio is responsible for other spectacular varietals, like the characterful and peppery Wetmore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cab Sauv aged for 18 months in French Oak. We’ll take another glass, please.