While on-board the QM2, we had the opportunity to imbibe in wines with the Cunard label, which made me curious about where they came from. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Wente Vineyards was the wine company that provided these private label wines. I decided to get in touch with Nicole Quandt, Marketing Directing at Wente Vienyards at Wente Family Estates, and she shared a little about how Wente Vineyards has created a niche in the cruise industry.
But first, a little background on Wente Vineyards: this winery, located in Livermore, California, holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating, family-owned winery in California, and the estate is a registered historical landmark. The winery was established by Carl Wente in 1883 on 47 acres of land. Having received training in wines while working for Charles Krug of Napa Valley, Wente purchased a few vineyards of land with excellent soil. In 1935, his sons Ernest and Herman introduced California’s first varietal wine label, Sauvignon Blanc. They were also the first to varietally label chardonnay. Today, Karl Wente is the Winemaker.
In 2006, Cunard started looking for some California wines to appeal to the U.S. passengers boarding Cunard ships. Wente Vineyeards invested a lot of time and effort into being one of the top contenders in Cunard’s search and was selected to celebrate the launch of the Queen Mary 2. The wines were introduced in 2007 and now are served on all three of the Cunard Queens (QM2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria.) Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were the original varietals but in 2010, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio were added. With careful study, you will find Wente Vineyard wines on many other ship lines as well. Some of their wines go back to 2004 with a commemorative wine series linked to Holland America’s “Sommelier Package” and tied to the line’s long tradition of culinary excellence. They are carried by the ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises in their new collection of 11 Wine Series voyages. So the next time you go on a cruise, check out the private label and the chances are Wente Vineyards may very well have produced it.
This estate-grown and sustainably-farmed Cabernet Sauvignon comes from specially selected vineyards in California, where undulating terrain, meandering arroyos, well-drained rocky soils, and unique mesoclimates create the most desirable settings with exposures ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon of distinct character, depth, and intensity.
This estate-grown and sustainably-farmed Chardonnay comes from specially selected vineyards in California. The grapes were harvested at the optimum level of maturity, then gently pressed and fermented in a combination of new and used oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. The fermentation was kept cold to ensure a slow process that retains the natural fruitiness of the grapes.