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A Day in the Life of Niki Wente

Niki Wente, Director of Vineyard Operations

For fifth-generation winegrower Niki Wente, life in the vineyards has always been a part of who she is. She grew up surrounded by vines and her family’s rich, nearly century-and-a-half-long history in the Livermore Valley. Today, as the Director of Vineyard Operations at Wente Vineyards, she gets to work alongside her family and carry the torch for future generations, which has always been her dream. Alas, while that’s the long game, it takes a lot of small decisions every day to keep a winery thriving for 141 years (and counting!). Increasingly, those decisions are now being made by talented young women leaders like Niki. Here’s a peak into a day in the life of these “women-powered wines” – Niki Wente edition:

Morning Routine

I don’t set an alarm as my body naturally wakes up by 6 am if not before. I have been very fortunate to wake up with a lot of natural energy. It has been very helpful as my job often requires early morning especially during harvest.

I tend to reach for my phone first thing in the morning to take a quick scan of my schedule and answer emails that are pressing or have a quick answer.

Before waking my daughter at 7 a.m., I prep her breakfast so it’ll be ready when she’s up. My son joins the party soon after if he didn’t already wake up, and I become a chef and hair stylist, prepping both kids for my daughter’s 7:30 a.m. school departure.

Typically, I get a quick bite like an apple with peanut butter, a pastry, or even my daughter’s leftovers.

By 7:45 a.m., I drop my daughter off at school, then head straight to the vineyards!


Average Work Day

I love being outdoors, checking the team’s vineyard progress, and ensuring our vines are happy and healthy. It is my favorite part of my job, and I aim to spend 25% of my time in the vineyard. That isn’t always the case though.

Most of my days are also generally filled with virtual meetings, like starting the day with daily flow, followed by strategic initiatives, vineyard alignment with winemaking, general vineyard management, capital projects, and more.

I spend most of my time in our Livermore office or vineyards, but I visit our Arroyo Seco. Monterey vineyards roughly every other week, depending on the time of year. I sit on three different boards in Monterey County, so I try to time my visits to the board meetings.

I am the queen of leftovers! I usually bring leftovers from the night before for lunch – it saves the time to prep. I always say I eat to live. I don’t care what I eat. As long as I eat something – I’m happy.

We have just finished pruning the vineyards for vintage 2024. Our decisions during the pruning season significantly affect the yields for the following vintages. During this time, we must collaborate with other departments like winemaking, production, and sales to plan the proper demand for future vintages.

By 4:30 p.m., it’s wrap-up time. I pick up my daughter, and we head to my parents’ house as a family. This is always one of my favorite moments, and I cherish it deeply – we would take the dog on a walk through the vineyards. It always makes me feel so grateful to call this my home!


Night Routine

Dinner is a family affair, accompanied by a delicious Wente Vineyard wine. We end the night with movie classics like Cars or Moana before tucking the kids into bed.

Once the kids are asleep, I take a moment to finish off any lingering emails. Finally, it’s time for my own nighttime routine – reading. My recent favorite book was The Women by Kristin Hannah.

This is just a glimpse into my life as the Director of Vineyard Operations at Wente Vineyards and as a busy mom! While it’s a juggling act, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The fresh air, the family time, and the satisfaction of seeing our vineyards thrive – it’s all part of my story, from sunrise to bedtime.

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