RECOMMENDED: Wente Vineyards Estate Grown, 2009 “Sandstone” Merlot, Livermore Valley/San Francisco Bay. 13.5% ABV. $12.99.

APPEARANCE: Almost purple, translucent, clear edges.

NOSE: Dust on nose at first. Blackberry and spice.

TASTE/MOUTHFEEL: Round, balanced, mouth-filling, expanding. Smooth. Fruity. A hint of licorice. Pipe tobacco, toasty oak.

FINISH: Lingering and lovely.

LABEL NOTES: Wente Vineyards, established in 1883, is the country’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery. Our Sandstone Merlot is Estate Grown and sustainably farmed in Livermore Valley. With warm days and cool nights, well-drained rocky soils, and incoming breezes from the San Francisco Bay, it is an ideal region to grow outstanding Merlot. This wine is medium-bodied and smooth, with flavors of plum, raspberry, vanilla, and spice. Enjoy.


Our 2009 Sandstone Merlot exhibits aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry and plum with hints of black tea and toasted oak. A smooth mouthfeel and inviting tannis lead to a long, fruity finish.

VINEYARD: The grapes for our Sandstone Merlot come from a gently sloping formation of hills running along the southeastern corner of the historic Livermore Valley. With warm days, cool nights, well-drained sandstone soils, and incoming breezes from the San Francisco Bay, the Wente family’s hillside vineyard is an ideal place to grow outstanding Merlot.

FERMENTATION: Each vineyard was harvested and fermented separately in upright stainless steel fermenters. Rack and return, which is the process of draining all of the free-run juice off the cap and then returning the free-run juice back over the top of the fermenter, was performed twice daily. This method increases the color and tannin extractions and improves mouthfeel through the integration of oxygen.

AGING: This wine was aged for 16 months in American, French, Eastern European,
and neutral oak.

HISTORY: After learning about winemaking from Charles Krug, C. H. Wente, a first-generation immigrant from Germany, founded his own winery in 1883. Recognizing that the warm days, cool nights and gravelly soils of the Livermore Valley were ideal for growing grapes, he purchased 48 acres and planted vineyards. In 1918, C. H. Wente’s sons Ernest and Herman joined the business, with Ernest managing the vineyards and Herman acting as winemaker. The company was later passed on to Ernest’s only son Karl, and in 1977, Karl’s young son Eric took the helm. Continuing the legacy, the winery is managed today by the Fourth Generation of the Wente family, Eric, Philip, Carolyn, and the Fifth Generation, Christine and Karl. The winery has grown to include over 2,000 acres of vineyards in the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay and 800 acres in Arroyo Seco, Monterey.

SUSTAINABILITY: In 2010, as a testimony to what has been a long-held tenet of the country’s oldest continuously owned and operated family winery, Wente Family Estates received certification for its sustainability with respect to vineyard, winery and company practices with the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing designation. CCSW certification includes a third-party verification of a winery’s adherence to a process of continuous improvement in its adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices. It is the first statewide program available to both wineries and vineyards. (For more information on Wente’s sustainability program, visit

AWARDS: Gold Medal, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, January 2012


Sample received for review.

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2 Responses to RECOMMENDED: Wente Vineyards Estate Grown, 2009 “Sandstone” Merlot, Livermore Valley/San Francisco Bay. 13.5% ABV. $12.99.

  1. richard g. smith says:

    My wife and I had this at a restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida.
    We were both very impressed and the bartender let me copy the label.
    I have tried to purchase this at ABC liquor store and they claim they are not allowed to stock it.
    To make sure you know exactly the wine I am speaking about: Wente Sandstone 2009 Estate Grown Merlot Livermore Valley San Francisco Bay
    We live in zip code 32137. Is there a store within 40 miles that we can purchase it?

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