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Carolyn Wente Honored as 2023 American Wine Legend

Wente Vineyards, America’s longest, continuously operated family-owned winery, is proud to announce Carolyn Wente, Chairman of the Board and Fourth Generation Winegrower, was selected by Wine Enthusiast as the 2023 American Wine Legend.  She will be honored at the annual Wine Star Awards to be held February 5, 2024, in Miami. This prestigious award is a fitting capstone to Carolyn’s forty-two-year career in the wine industry and to Wente Vineyards’ 140th anniversary year in business.  Carolyn is honored to be the first woman named American Wine Legend and is humbled to be included in this legendary peer group.

“I am truly appreciative to receive this award,” said Wente.  “Our winery’s longevity cannot be credited to any single person, and just as we stand on the shoulders of the generations who came before, I also share credit with my two brothers, Eric and Phil, without whom Wente Vineyards would not be where it is today.   It has been quite a journey working alongside my family to sustainably expand our vineyards, continue to push the envelope on wine quality, pioneer wine country experiences to introduce and educate consumers to the joys of wine, food and wine country lifestyle.  I am proud of what we have achieved and continue to achieve as the fifth generation takes the helm.”

While the Wine Star Awards ceremony is an annual event, the American Wine Legend honor has only been awarded a handful of times since 2000.  Carolyn Wente is widely recognized for helping to bring the wines of the Central Coast and California to global prominence.  A past “Winery CEO of the Year” recipient from North Bay Business Journal, Wente has also been named “Woman of the Year Award” from the California State Assembly, among “20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry” from Vineyard and Winery Management and in 2020, she won the Grande Dame Award from Les Dames d’Escoffier International.  Just this year, Wente was a 2023 Global Honoree for Your Hour, Her Power™, from Dress for Success Worldwide.

Wente sits on the Executive Leadership Board for the School of Viticulture and Enology at University of California, Davis, as well as the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.  She is a tireless advocate for women in the wine business and played an integral role in advancing the American wine industry for decades.  In recognition of her accomplishments, Wente is being honored by Wine Enthusiast “for her lifelong leadership as a woman in a male-dominated industry, for her faith in a family business and cool head during difficult times,” said Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast senior tasting editor and reviewer for Sonoma and Napa wines. “We are proud to honor Carolyn Wente as an American Wine Legend.”

Carolyn joined her family’s Livermore Valley winery business in 1980 after graduating Stanford University and then working as a Financial Analyst at Crocker National Bank.  She started in sales and marketing, helping expand the Wente portfolio of wines.  She wrote the Livermore Valley, Arroyo Seco and San Francisco Bay appellations and contributed to the Central Coast appellation in an effort to distinguish these unique viticultural areas.  At the same time, she developed and led Wente Vineyards’ lifestyle businesses and was instrumental in creating the Wente family’s experiential brand, essentially creating the prototype for modern day wine country hospitality experiences.  Carolyn became President in 1995 and the family’s first female CEO in 2008.  Her vision brought Wente Vineyards worldwide renown, attracting visitors from around the globe and inspiring countless wineries to follow her model.  Today, Carolyn mentors fifth generation family members and company executives to uphold her legacy of strong leadership while continuing the global growth of the Wente Family Estates wine portfolio.

About Wente Vineyards:

Founded in 1883, Wente Vineyards celebrates its 14th year in 2023. The estate 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. In April 2022, the winery won the Wine Institute’s California Green Medal Leader Award. This award is given to one winery each year and recognizing leadership in sustainable practices that span both its vineyards and winery as well as the estate’s socially responsible initiatives that benefit its employees and greater community.

Located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards – Wente Family Estates’ flagship estate label – is recognized as one of California’s premier wine country destinations, featuring wine tasting, food and wine experiences, outdoor wine & music events, unparalleled wedding venues and The Course at Wente Vineyards, an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Greg Norman. For more information, visit wentevineyards.com.

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