03 July, 2014

The Winemakers Studio by Wente Vineyards

Wente Vineyards is a family-owned winery in Livermore, CA known for their Chardonnay. They are also one of the oldest continuously-run wineries in the state of CA. and this year they are celebrating their 130th vintage. Wente is kind of like a Disneyland for wine-loving adults with a world-class restaurant, golf course and summer concert series. And in May they opened a new educational center called the Winemakers Studio where they are offering classes and interactive experiences to educate the consumer palate. The Brix Chicks got a sneak preview and here is what we found:

A Feast for the Senses
When you walk into the studio you notice flasks and perfume bottles where you can spritz various aromas to help you learn to identify some common ones such as melon, raspberry, butter, and chocolate. There are swatches of fabrics to exemplify different textures you will find in the palate of the wine (ie; silk for Pinot Noir, velvet for Cabernet Sauvignon) all perfect for us kinesthetic learners! Wine videos are being played throughout the studio and you can also use the iPads which have apps especially created to help you learn about wine.

The Tap Room
Here is where you taste and buy their artisan wine line on tap which includes the Artisan white blend 2013, the Artisan Red 2012, Pinot Noir Clones 2012, and the outstanding Azul-Verde 2012 which is a blend of Cab Franc and Malbec. After you taste you can buy a growler and pick a wine to take home. You can reuse the growler every time you return. They also have a cheese-pairing course for each wine which I highly recommend. They show you how the flavors of the wine and the cheeses really work together.

Wine Aroma Seminar
This class really tests your olfactory abilities. You are presented with 10 glasses filled with water and an oil carrying a concentrated aroma such as grass, melon, toast, cherry, etc. You swirl and sniff and try to figure out what exactly you are smelling. As a wine-tasting veteran this was much harder than I thought it would be and I was stumped by a few of these concentrated aromas. Wente also makes a kit in which you can buy the aromas and have your own class. This was a good learning-experience for me.

Wine-blending Experience
Here you can be a winemaker for an hour and make your own blend of Bourdeaux varieties from the Wente Estate. There were barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon from 4 different vineyards, one Malbec, one Merlot, one Cab Franc and one Petit Verdot. The wine-ambassador guides you through the process as you taste each wine and experiment by blending wines from your favorite lots and finding the right aromas and flavors for your palate. You then bottle it, cork it, seal it with foil and label it.

The Xandria 2012 Cuvee. Well, it is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon from the Silva Vineyard and the Smith Vineyard blended with Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. I would love to age my wine but don't think I can wait that long to drink it!

Overall I found this to be a highly educational yet hedonistic experience. The wines were delicious and the wine-educators were knowledgeable and fun. Thank you to Wente Vineyards for creating a unique wine country experience perfect for the wine veteran and for the wine newbie.

Wente's new interactive wine education studio is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays and by appointment at Wente Vineyards, 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore. Experiences range from wine tasting to blending seminars, sensory evaluation and food and wine pairings. $10-$125. For more information, visit www.wentewinemakers.com.

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