Carolyn Wente on today’s wine industry

Carolyn Wente, Chief Excecutive Officer and Fourth Generation Winegrower from the famed Wente Family Estates in California explains the importance of staying top of mind and relevant in today’s changing wine industry and in particular not being afraid to take on new challenges… 


In 2014, we opened the one-of-a-kind Winemakers Studio to educate consumers  on all things relating to winemaking. We also announced earlier lats year the launch of our single vineyard 2012 Riva Ranch Pinot Noir. It joins the Riva Ranch Chardonnay in the single vineyard wine series – only the second wine to come from this single vineyard among the family’s portfolio of wines.

Located at the mouth of Arroyo Seco River Canyon, the Riva Vineyard was Arroyo Seco’s first vineyard planting in 1963, is a special place to the Wente family. And we just celebrated our third annual National Chardonnay Day at Wente Vineyards with a great tasting of our Chardonnay portfolio with media and consumers from the Bay area.


1. In the past decade you have opened a number of high-profile peripheral activities around the vineyard, including the now famed golf course and your restaurant and visitor’s center. Please tell us more about how these play in growing brand awareness … 

When I joined the family business in the early 1980’s, the family was recognised for its leadership in viticulture, oenology and the world of wine business. But my brothers and I knew there was more to accomplish. We wanted to provide quality experiences that would exceed our guests’ expectations.
The opening of the Wente Vineyards Restaurant and Visitors Center in 1986 was our first step in the realisation of their dream fro a new appreciation of wine as part of culture in Amercia. I have been very passionate about opening a restaurant wad was thrilled when my dream become reality. The restaurant at Wente Vineyards has become a culinary destination continously rated among the top 10 restaurants in the East Bay by a number of leading publications. In the summer of 1986, the Concerts at Wente Vineyards followed, featuring world-renowned artists such as James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Shryl Crow, and Diana Krall. Now each summer, over  10 000 San Francisco Bay area concert goers come to Wente Vineyards to enjoy spectacular evenings of wine, food and world-class entertainment.

In 1998, the Wente family created an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Australian golfing great Greg Norman, which is beautifully located in the midst of the vineyards.
And in 2014, we opened The Winemakers Studio as I mentioned before. I like to think that it proves we are committed to become a consumer destination and leader in the Livermore Valley.


2. Please tell us a little more about the activities of the The California Wine Institute which you now preside. 

We are please to see the growing interest in wines from California. Buyers are now looking to extend their California sections by looking at multiple regions and appelletions instead of having only one California brand. The Wine Institute’s Pavilion which was present at Vinexpo Bordeaux in 2015 enables buyers to explore the range of styles, prices and regions that California has to offer.


Carolyn Wente, CEO of Wente Family Estates is one of the driving forces behind the expansion and growth of Wente Family Estates’ portfolio of wines. She was also instrumental in the development of the Wente Family’s lifestyle business, which has brought Wente Vineyards worldwide renown and attracted visitors from all over the world. Today, Carolyn Wente works with fourth and fifth generation family members and company excecutives to continue the growth of the Wente Family Estates and their portfolio of wines. So far reaching are Carolyn’s accomplishments that she was chosen as one of the honorees for the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World in  2002 in an event sponsored by JP Morgan Private Banking, Baccarat, Hermès, among other leading luxury brands, receiving her award in Paris in April of that year.