Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wine Tasting in Livermore Valley - Wente Vineyards Estate Winery

The Livermore Valley, east of San Francisco, may not have the popularity of Napa Valley or it may lack the rustic appeal of Sonoma County but the Livermore Valley has history. The valley is definitely worth exploring and that's what Mijo and I did one weekend.

We dropped by Wente Vineyard Estate Winery, the oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery in Northern California. We enjoyed sampling the wines and learning about the history.

The grapes are still dormant this time of the year so the landscape in the Livermore Valley wine country looks brown and twiggy. The sun was out but it was a crisp 55 degrees Farenheit that afternoon. Mijo and I crossed the bay to this part of East Bay to check out the newly opened outlet stores in Pleasanton. To maximize our time there, we decided to pay two wineries a visit. One of them is Wente Vineyard.

Wente Vineyards - Dormant vines

Just to give you a little trivia, the Livermore Valley put California on the World Wine Map by winning America’s First Gold Medal for Wine in the 1889 Paris Exposition. The valley was also the first in California to label Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc as varietals.

Wente Vineyards - Tasting room

There are two Wente locations. The Wente Vineyards  on Arroyo Road and the Wente Vineyards and Estate Winery on Tesla Road. The former is where they have a restaurant and where summer concerts are held and the latter is the older and original location. We went to the Estate winery not just sample wines but also to experience what it is like to go to a winery with lots of history in California. In fact, this year is the winery's 130th anniversarry. Hanging on the tasting room walls are posters and pictures of the generations after generations of Wente wine makers.

Wente Vineyards - Inside the tasting room

Wente Vineyards Estate Winery's tasting room was packed when we got there a little after noon considering their tasting bar is bigger than most tasting rooms we've been to. I had to squeeze myself in to the bar so that one of the pourers can notice us. Jerry, our friendly and knowledgeable pourer, gave us the day's tasting menu. The menu consisted of two sets of tastings - a Legacy flight and a Harvest flight. We were told the wines in the Harvest flight are only available in the tasting rooms. Of course, that is what we chose.

Wente Vineyards - Winegrowing tradition

For the Harvest flight, I was surprised not to see any wines from their Heritage collections. However, I was happy to see their Nth Degree brand because I have not sampled this Wente brand before. I was told that these wines are limited production wines and they reflect the distinctive terroir of the Wente family’s Estate Vineyards. Just hearing that phrase made me want to start sampling wine right away. :)

Wente Vineyards - Red wine blend

Here's what they include in the Harvest flight: 2011 The Nth Degree Chardonnay, 2011 Grenache, 2011 Serenity (red wine blend), 2010 The Nth Degree Merlot and the 2010 The Nth Degree Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chardonnay and the merlot were delicious so were the Serenity and the cab. Having a full body is one characteristic of all these wines. It is probably because of the hot warm valley summers they have there.

Wente Vineyards - Bar

We had to narrow down our choices so Mijo and I decided to get one each. I chose the tasty Serenity and Mijo chose the cab.

Wente Vineyards - Wine Tasting

For our first Livermore Valley winery, we totally had a wonderful experience and tasted some of the most delicious wines.

Thanks Jerry our pourer and Wente!  And happy 130th anniversarry!


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