LIVERMORE, Calif. (April 27, 2022) – Wente Family Estates, the country’s longest, continuously family-owned and operated winery, is proud to announce it is the proud recipient of the Wine Institute’s Eighth Annual Sustainable Winegrowing California Green Medal Leader Award. This important accolade is given to the winery that “excels in the three “Es” of sustainability — Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable practices.” The Green Medal Leader Award recognizes Wente Family Estates’ leadership in sustainable practices that span both its vineyards and winery as well as the estate’s socially responsible initiatives that benefit is employees and greater community.
“On behalf of Wente Family Estates, we are honored to be presented with this award from the Wine Institute,” said Niki Wente, Fifth Generation Winegrower and Director of Vineyard Operations. “It’s no coincidence that – five generations later – our family remains stewards of the same land that my great, great grandfather first planted. The investment we’ve made in our Livermore Valley community goes back just as far. We know firsthand that the key to our estate’s longevity is our family’s multigenerational tradition of pushing the envelope in defining and redefining how sustainability is practiced and measured. Today, we congratulate our entire dedicated team for their commitment to this critical mission.”
Sustainably farmed since its 1883 founding, Wente Family Estates has remained committed to upholding founder Carl H. Wente’s belief that sustainability is not only good for the environment and community, but that it produces the best wine possible. The Wente family maintains that the attention to detail required to be sustainable enhances wine quality while making multi-generational ownership economically feasible.
Today, Wente Family Estates is a certified sustainable vineyard and winery from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CCSW). Fewer than ten percent of wineries hold both the vineyard and winery certifications, and Wente Family Estates is proud to be counted among them. The certification is verified annually by a third party on over sixty vineyards and forty-one winery prerequisites. Year after year, the wineries under its umbrella must demonstrate continuous improvements and implement action plans for the following year’s initiatives, going well beyond what is required to maintain the certification each year.
Wente Family Estates’ sustainability efforts instill the importance of green initiatives and environmental justice. These are ongoing to minimize waste, reduce their carbon footprint, and protect the environment. The company implements regenerative farming practices to build and maintain healthy soils and keep carbon in the ground. Wente Family Estates sustainably manages roughly 1,600 acres of open-range land not planted to vine, cultivating native grasses and other beneficial flowering species to maintain an ecological balance where pests are naturally controlled.
Under Niki Wente’s direction, the team practices a no-till system to not disturb the soil and lessen tractor emissions. Cover crops are planted to the specific block and soil type to promote biodiversity, beneficial insects, improve microbiological life and soil structure. Sheep graze the vineyard weeds in the winter to eliminate the use of tractors and chemicals, while integrated pest management (including a full-time falconer during harvest season) is implemented to control vineyard pests without chemicals throughout the year.
In the winery, a BlueMorph UV light system replaces the typically chemical-and water-heavy rinse cycle during winery sanitation, saving roughly 150,000 gallons of water per year. All water used in the production facility is reused to drip-irrigate the vineyards (and only when needed thanks to flow meters and evapotranspiration sensors that enable precise allocation). Investment in a STARS (Selective Tartrate Removal System) Filtration unit reduces energy load during the cold stabilization process in the winery. This saves 90% of energy compared to traditional methods (and vastly improves conditions for workers, who no longer must work in frigid temperatures).
The Green Medal Leader Award comes on the heels of an important packaging refresh for Wente Vineyards, the flagship winery under the Wente Family Estates umbrella, that puts its Sustainable Vineyard and Winery certification center-stage on all front labels while transitioning to lighter, more carbon-neutral glass for its bottles. This lighter-weight glass reduces fuel usage for transport, thus decreasing carbon emissions from the supplier to the consumer. To further increase energy efficiencies, a new bottling line is currently being installed and will be in operation by early 2023.
Wente Family Estates’ sustainability commitment also includes employee and community wellbeing. Beyond the vineyard and winery, the company is committed to positively impacting its communities and team members. Wente Family Estates employees 151 full-time employees and 53 part-time employees. The overall average tenure is ten years for full-time staff, a record that speaks to the company’s fair practices and in which its family leadership takes great pride.
In 2018, Wente Vineyards launched a groundbreaking initiative called Make Time, aimed at inspiring its workforce and customers to unplug from digital devices and redirect more time toward loved ones and personal development. All full-time employees receive additional paid hours to “make time” as well as paid volunteer hours to put towards influential community organizations.
In its efforts to support the local community, Wente Family Estates established the Wente Foundation for Arts Education, with the mission to raise money for art education programs in the Livermore Valley and Bay Area. In December 2021, it crossed a milestone threshold, donating over $1,150,000 to arts education programs since its inception in 2012.
Finally, Wente Vineyards recently unveiled a website refresh that includes a new page highlighting a complete list of the estate’s ongoing sustainability practices – updated regularly with the most current improvements and initiatives to help make their efforts more transparent to the consumer.
“Our work doesn’t end with this recognition,” said Niki Wente. “With the fifth generation of Wente winegrowers increasingly moving into leadership positions within the company, we are really only just getting started.”
The Green Medal Leader Award is in an elite class of recognition and is given to the vineyard or winery that excels in the three “E’s” of sustainability. The Wine Institute issued awards in four categories this year: Leader, Environment, Community and Business. Learn about the 2022 winners and their efforts in sustainability at www.greenmedal.org.
More information about the Wine Institute and Eighth Annual California Green Medal Awards can be found at www.greenmedal.org.
About Wente Family Estates:
Founded in 1883, Wente Family Estates has been celebrated for its industry-wide contributions to innovation as the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in the country, now owned and managed by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family, with women leading the charge from grape to glass. The winery draws from certified sustainable estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay, and Arroyo Seco, Monterey appellations to create an outstanding array of fine wines distributed in all 50 states and over 70 countries worldwide. In 2010, it joined the top 10% of California wineries that meet all three tiers within the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing codes and designation for both their estate vineyards and winery. The Wente Family Estates portfolio includes Wente Vineyards, Murrieta’s Well, Angel’s Ink, Ravel & Stitch, Hayes Ranch and Kalyana.
Located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards – the flagship Wente Family Estates brand – is recognized as one of California’s premier wine country destinations. The winery is additionally known for its leadership role in sustainable employment practices, including its longstanding mission to inspire employees and guests to make time for personal and professional development. This mission is realized through Wente Family Estates’ family stewardship, outstanding wines, and wine country experiences. For more information, visit wentevineyards.com.