Become a Winemaker at Wente Winemakers Studio

Wineries all along the west coast are ready to pour a tasting flight when you walk through the door. What sets one apart from another? An experience that is unique and engaging can totally differentiate a winery. One of the most memorable tasting room experiences I’ve had is a wine blending session at the Wente Winemakers Studio in Livermore Valley Wine Country.

Being based in Seattle, when we plan a trip to California the lure of the familiar wine regions Napa and Sonoma is hard to resist. If only we’d known over the years of our visits to the Golden State that we were missing out on intimate and engaging experiences in other wine regions. Enter Livermore Valley. Just about an hour east of San Francisco in the Tri-Valley Region, I was surprised to find that we were driving past beautiful vineyards on roads with little traffic.

The area is home to Wente Vineyards, the pioneer of California’s number one white grape variety, Chardonnay. Somehow it had escaped me that the majority of California Chardonnay is a Wente Chardonnay clone. I might be living a wine centric life, and yet this 5th generation family winery that is celebrating its 135th anniversary this year has unfortunately eluded me. With multiple tasting rooms, dining options, and event venues, Wente Vineyards is quite an enchanting playground for wine lovers. My time there was spent at the Wente Winemakers Studio. Even within the Winemakers Studio there are several interactive experiences from which to choose including blind tasting, wine aroma discovery, and wine and food pairing. During my visit I tried my hand at the winemaking blending experience.

Not only does the hospitable staff offer a friendly greeting, upon entering the studio wine glasses and notebooks are set up on tables hinting at the tasting experience ahead. Upon being seated, the session begins with an introduction to the history of the winery. Next comes the anticipated tasting of the estate wines and copious notetaking. Although tasting in this setting is more a function to help one determine which wines and how much may be desired in a custom blend, it turns out it is still fun!

Livermore Valley Wine Tasting

The setup of the blending room is remarkable. Barrel heads with spigots line one wall. This is where we pour Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties into beakers in order to create our blend. We then bottle the finished blend, cork it, put a capsule on it, label it, and ultimately take home our personal creation.

Wente Blending

This memorable blending experience at the Wente Winemakers Studio is delightful and the hospitality remarkable. I highly recommend it and look forward to revisiting Livermore Valley. Have you been to the region? If so, head on over to my post on Instagram and share your experience! #LetsTalkAboutWine

Plan Your Visit

Wente Vineyards
Wente Winemakers Studio
Livermore Valley Wine Country
Visit Tri Valley
Black Tie Transportation

Lodi Wine Country’s Best Kept Secrets

Until last fall I had never been to Lodi, California before. I don’t know what I’d been waiting for! The visit opened my eyes to fascinating varieties, quality wines of incredible value, the history of family wineries, and forward thinking sustainable winegrowing practices.

Located in California’s Central Valley, we found it easiest to fly from our home city of Seattle to Sacramento, then hit the road to our destination about 40 miles south of the airport. And so began the journey of my – not so secret – love affair with the Lodi region.

Did you know that Lodi produces more wine grapes than any other region in California, and it’s not all Zinfandel? It’s easy to assume the region is only about Zin. After all, the grape has been declared as the signature variety. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I do enjoy a Zinfandel with my turkey chili. Yet, I was surprised and delighted to learn that Lodi’s Mediterranean climate lends itself to growing a number of other grape varieties. Just check out the Spanish varieties produced at Bokisch Vineyards or the white Rhône varieties crafted by Acquiesce Winery.

In fact, wine geeks might be intrigued to find that Lodi is home to over one hundred grape varieties from Aglianico to Zweigelt. Of course, that doesn’t matter if the resulting wine isn’t good. But the wine is fantastic! Consider that what gets bottled also retails for under $40 in most cases and you’ve got a treasure hunt of the most juicy kind! In fact, one of the greatest value wines must be the Obsession Symphony from Ironstone Vineyards at under $15.

Klinker Brick and Mettler Family Vineyards Owners

Many of the family wineries there are multi-generational operations such as Klinker Brick Winery and Mettler Family Vineyards? Some of the vineyards date back to the 1800’s.

Have you heard of the Lodi Rules, California’s first sustainable winegrowing certification program? It’s based on farming practices that benefit the environment, the community, and the local economy. As Randy Lange of LangeTwins says, “When you think generationally you can’t help but think about sustainability.”

The experience captivated me, unexpectedly opening my eyes to the diverse range of quality wines crafted in this special region. I was so taken by the experience I have written four articles on the subject, and am delighted to be returning to the region. If you want to learn more, find them on Briscoe Bites (and while you’re there check out the great wine reviews by my friend Stacy Briscoe):

If you’ve already begun your own love affair with Lodi wines, give me a shout out on social media with your favorite wineries to visit and most coveted wines to drink. #LetsTalkAboutWine

Lodi Wineries and Resources