HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Wente Vineyards Estate Grown, 2009 “Southern Hills” Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley/San Francisco Bay. 13.5% ABV. $12.99.

Of the four wines the two of us tasted with two friends recently, this was our favorite of the night. (This was the only Wente we had that evening, by the way.)

It was ruby with pink edges, surprisingly clear and translucent for a Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, we wondered if it’s a blend. (In the U.S., a wine can be labeled as a varietal as long as it has 75% or more of that varietal in it.)

With pleasant scents and tastes of oak, cedar, wild violets, rich cherry, a kiss of cinnamon, and a lingering finish, this smooth wine was a pleasure to drink. For one taster, it even brought an emotional response: “Remember when you were a girl and went out to pick flowers in the springtime?”

The Wente group is doing a terrific job. No wonder they were named the 2011 American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine! And, 2012 is the 100-year anniversary of the Wente family bringing Chardonnay to the U.S. from Montpelier, France.

LABEL NOTES: Wente Vineyards, established in 1883, is the country’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery. Our Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon is Estate Grown and sustainably farmed in the southern region of the Livermore Valley, where undulating terrain, meandering Arroyos, well-drained rocky soils and unique mesoclimates produce ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon with distinct character, depth and intensity. This beautifully balanced wine has lush berry flavors, soft tannins, subtle oak undertones and a hint of spice. Enjoy.


This Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits flavors of cherry, dark plum and a hint of coffee. Rich, yet approachable tannins provide a long, smooth finish.

VINEYARD: In the 19th century, California wine pioneer Charles Wetmore imported Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from Bordeaux to plant in his Livermore Valley vineyards. The descendants of these vines were selected by University of California at Davis to become a part of their Foundation nursery and are known as clones 7 and 8. Today, the Wente family farms approximately 400 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards using these two clones with appropriately selected root stocks. With their undulating terrain, meandering Arroyos, well-drained rocky soils, and unique mesoclimates, the Southern Hills vineyards are located in the most desirable settings with exposures ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon of distinct character, depth and intensity.

FERMENTATION: This wine was fermented in stainless steel tank and pumped over twice daily.

AGING: Aged for 14 months in a combination of American, French, Eastern European, and neutral oak.

HISTORY and SUSTAINABILITY: Refer to the review below (Wente 2009 Sandstone Merlot).

Reserve Class Champion, Gold Medal, January 2012
90 points, Natalie MacLean, October 2011
88 points, The Globe & Mail, Canada, October 2011
Gold Medal, Columbus Food & Wine Affair Wine Competition, September 2011
4 stars, Winecurrent.com, Canada, November 2011

WEB: http://www.wentevineyards.com/

Sample received for review.

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4 Responses to HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Wente Vineyards Estate Grown, 2009 “Southern Hills” Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley/San Francisco Bay. 13.5% ABV. $12.99.

  1. Gordon Townsend says:

    Wente Southern Hills was a real treat for my wife and I. We had a few people over last week so we picked up a few bottles to give it a try….well we had to go back and get more. We truly enjoyed and will continue to have it on hand.

  2. Bill says:

    Just enjoyed a 375 ml bottle with my wife on Virgin America Airlines. Superb value!

  3. Timothy Tirre says:

    Had a bottle on hand looking at it since 2009 and just cracked it today 1/24/2021. Its outstanding…..

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