It is famed for having some of the best vines in the Southern Hemisphere, and producing wines that are very familiar to consumers.
Wente Vineyards has begun its 125th harvest by picking a 13-acre block of Sauvignon Blanc vines in its Ruby Hills vineyard.
It’s the same vineyard that yielded the fruit for a Cresta Blanca Sauternes that won the Grand Prix in the 1889 Paris International Exposition, a landmark event that put California wines on the international map. The Wente family bought 300 acres of the Cresta Blanca property in 1981.
Wente Vineyards also produced the state’s first varietal-labeled Sauvignon Blanc in 1933.
According to the East Bay Business Journal, the company expects to harvest a total of 13,000 tons statewide this year, about the same volume as the 2007 harvest and slightly larger than 2006’s yield.
Wente Vineyards owns about 3,000 acres in two appellations within the larger Central Coast appellation: Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay and Arroyo Seco, Monterey. Its best-selling varietals are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The vineyards escaped perceptible damage from record frosts and wildfires, Karl Wente, a fifth-generation winemaker, said. There was minimal frost damage for the first time in eight seasons, but the tips of the vine shoots grew through it and there was no impact to yield or quality, he said.
Smoke from nearly 2,000 wildfires that had burned more than 887,000 acres through July did not impact the harvest and dissipated quickly, he said.
“The same weather patterns that bring the fog in from the bay also serve to clear the air of smoke; thus there was imperceptible impact from the smoke,” Wente said.