LIVERMORE, Calif. (May 10, 2022) – Wente Family Estates, America’s longest, continuously family owned and operated winery, announced the promotion of fifth generation winegrower, Niki Wente, to Director of Vineyard Operations, where she will be responsible for the creation, implementation, and oversight of all farming operations and vineyard development projects under the Wente Family Estates portfolio umbrella.
Niki will continue to oversee farming operations for the Wente Family Estates portfolio’s roughly 3,000 acres of land, making critical decisions in the farming plans for over 200 blocks – in both the Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco – leading the team towards improved efficiencies, with a specific focus on vine health, fruit quality, and sustainable vineyard practices. In her expanded role, Niki will take an even more strategic position conceptualizing and advocating for aggressive sustainability initiatives, that transcend even those that recently earned Wente Family Estates its prestigious Green Medal Leader Award from The Wine Institute in April 2022.
“I’m honored to accept my new role as Director of Vineyard Operations,” said Niki. “It means so much to follow in the footsteps of the trailblazers who came before me, who have helped maintain the health of this land and made my job today possible. Our mantra has always been ‘If you take care of the soil the soil will take care of you.’ My family has been committed to sustainability since 1883, when my great-great-great-grandfather made it his mission to have a business that lasted generations. In my new role, I’m especially committed to continuing that legacy while pushing my team to find new avenues of sustainability with every year that passes so we can remain leaders in our field. I am excited about what the future holds.”
With certified sustainable vineyards through the Certified Sustainable California Winegrowing (CCSW) Alliance, Niki and her team focus on carbon sequestration, water conservation, naturally integrated pest management, minimizing chemical inputs, and reducing emissions.
In the short term, Niki is currently focused on finalizing Wente Family Estate’s first greenhouse gas audit. Once the results are in, she plans to oversee an intensive internal audit across the entire organization to gain input and insights from every employee on how the organization can achieve greater sustainability in every department. Niki’s goal is to empower employees to develop their own sustainability initiatives, eschewing the more traditional top-down managerial approach. She believes it always resonates better when her colleagues can be a strategic part of the solution.
Niki’s longer-term vision is to explore how automation might also empower her veteran vineyard staff to better apply the skills and knowledge they have accrued over the years, especially as labor becomes scarcer. “Some of our vineyard workers have been here for over 30 years,” Niki said. “They have so much valuable experience that could be far better leveraged if we could automate their more routine – yet critical – tasks like driving tractors. We’re excited about green alternatives that involve a more automated approach to farming.”
Niki Wente joined the Wente Family Estates Vineyard Operations team in early 2017. She follows in the footsteps of her father, Phil Wente, who managed the vineyard land before her. During her teenage years, Niki shadowed Jackie Mancuso, Wente Vineyard’s leader of vineyard operations at that time. Having a female role model in the world of viticulture, in addition to the influence of her father, deeply heightened her growing interest in the field.
Niki graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Wine & Viticulture. Prior to joining her family’s company, she worked in Grower Relations at Huneeus Vintners, sourcing fruit from over 30 California growers for Flowers Vineyard and Winery, Faust, Illumination, and Quintessa. She also worked on biodynamic estate viticulture projects for Quintessa and Faust.
Niki will continue to report directly into Karl Wente, Chief Operating Officer “Niki has played a significant role in taking us into the next phase of our sustainable business model while leading the entire vineyard organization. Now, Director of Vineyard Operations, we’re excited to see what Niki can achieve,” says Wente.
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.