“Let me tell you a story,” Carolyn Wente said. And as the fourth generation and CEO of Wente Vineyards, California’s oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery, she had many stories to tell. So did her nephew, fifth-generation Karl Wente, winemaker and senior vice president of winemaking. Their story began in 1883 when Carl H. Wente planted a few acres of grapes in Livermore Valley. Today, Wente owns 3,000 acres of vineyards in Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay and Arroyo Seco in Monterey and produces 600,000 cases of wine annually, about 25 percent of them sold overseas, in 50 countries.
Over the years, Wente garnered a host of accomplishments. One is the Wente Chardonnay clone. Developed by the Wentes from Burgundy and California sources, it is the most planted Chardonnay clone in the state and has produced many award-winning wines. Wente was also the first to label California wines for the grape variety used to make the wine rather than for European regions. And Wente still offers some of the state’s best bargains — remarkable wines at affordable prices.
Take Morning Fog Chardonnay 2012 ($15). A rich, flavorful wine with a silky texture and sprightly acidity, it evokes layers of fruit with a hint of vanilla from its oak aging and offers a medium-long aftertaste. Riva Ranch Chardonnay 2012 ($19–22), from Wente’s Arroyo Seco vineyard, is round, ripe and beguiling. It shows excellent balance, rich fruitiness, good acidity and a touch of vanilla.
With vineyards in different climatic regions, Wente can produce grapes that command a variety of growing conditions. Arroyo Seco’s long, cool growing season, for example, is a welcoming setting for Pinot Noir, as demonstrated in Wente’s Reliz Creek 2010 ($22). It shows Pinot Noir’s traditional softer color and an aroma that blends cherries and berries, a medium body and an intriguing finish.
Merlot 2008 ($65) from The Nth Degree, Wente’s limited-production wines, is vibrant with a combination of fruits and toast in its flavors; a touch of tannin; and a long, satisfying finish.
Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($16–20), with 17 percent Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah, combines hints of currants, tea and spice to make a subtle, medium-bodied, focused and enviably priced wine.
With more young Wentes in the waiting, the winery can easily hit its 200th birthday.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.
One of Palm Desert, California’s, signature hotel properties recently finalized its biggest-ever redesign. The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is home to 884 guestrooms and nearly 250,000 square feet of event space. Every facet of the property has been redesigned ahead of the property’s grand re-opening in January.