Senior Vineyard and Viticulture Manager
Niki Wente joined the Wente Family Estates Vineyard Operations team in early 2017, following in the footsteps of her father, Phil Wente, who managed the vineyard land before her. For Niki, a “desk job” was never particularly appealing. A precocious student who excelled in math and science, she was significantly high-energy as a youngster and always preferred to be outdoors. During her teenage years, Niki had the opportunity to shadow Jackie Mancuso, Wente Vineyard’s leader of vineyard operations at that time. Having a female role model in the world of viticulture, in addition to the influence of her father, greatly heightened her growing interest in the field. At just 14 years old, the self-determined Niki decided to study viticulture, with her sights set on Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Niki graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Wine & Viticulture. During her time at school, Niki spent her summers as an intern in various wine-related roles, including Viticulture and Marketing with Wente Vineyards and Cellar Operations with Edna Valley Vineyards. Immediately following her graduation, Niki worked as a Viticulture harvest intern. Following harvest, she pursued an opportunity in San Francisco in technology, only to realize her desire to return to viticulture. She joined the Huneeus Vitners’ Viticulture team, working in Grower Relations and sourcing fruit from over 30 growers in the North Coast region from Cazadero, CA to American Canyon, CA. Here, Niki supported grape supply needs across all brands, including Flowers Vineyard and Winery, Faust, Illumination, and Quintessa. She also worked on viticulture projects on the luxury brands Quintessa’s and Faust’s estate vineyards, supporting the mission of exceptional quality and vine longevity through Biodynamic farming practices.
In her current role at Wente Family Estates, Niki oversees farming operations for roughly 3,000 acres of land. She makes critical decisions in the farming plans for over 200 blocks – in both the Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco, leading the team towards improved efficiencies, with a specific focus on vine health, fruit quality, and sustainable vineyard practices. With certified sustainable vineyards through the Certified Sustainable California Winegrowing (CCSW) Alliance, Niki and her team focus on carbon sequestration, water conservation, naturally integrated pest management, minimizing chemical inputs, and reducing emissions.
Niki presently serves on the Board of Directors for four different organizations, including The Alameda County Resource Conservation District (ACRCD), where she is currently serving as the Treasurer. She contributes to natural resource conservation, wildlife, habitat preservation, and agricultural enhancements in partnership with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Niki also serves on two regional winegrowing association boards: the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association and the Arroyo Seco Winegrowers Association. These organizations focus on the enrichment and prosperity of their specific American Viticultural Areas (AVA). Additionally, Niki is on the Wente Foundation for Arts Education board, the charitable arm of Wente Family Estates, which focuses on raising funds for programs that provide arts education to underserved children in the San Francisco East Bay area.
Niki resides in the Livermore Valley with her husband, Nick, and their dog, Riley.