Eric Wente, Chairman of the Board of Wente Family Estates, announces next generation leadership transition effective April 1, 2021.
March 3, 2021 Livermore, CA – Wente Family Estates announced today a new alignment for the company’s senior leadership at America’s longest continuously owned and operated family winery, celebrating 138 years of history in 2021. Eric Wente will be transitioning to Chairman Emeritus as the next step in his 43 years of service supporting the five-generation family business where he has held roles including winemaker and head of production, to leadership roles as President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of Wente Family Estates. “I have worked tirelessly for the success of our multi-generational family business, which included succession planning. Even with the global and local challenges we all are facing, it reaffirms the work we have done and our vision for the future by making a change from fourth generation leaders to fifth generation. I am confident in the capabilities of this new leadership team to realize our vision as we navigate and shape our business in the new paradigm that emerges from the impact of Covid.”
Succeeding Eric as Chair will be Carolyn Wente. Carolyn joined the company in 1980 working side by side with her two brothers, Eric and Philip (Vice Chairman). Carolyn started in sales and marketing where she developed and led Wente Vineyards’ lifestyle businesses as well as grew the Wente Family Estates portfolio of brands over the past 40 years. She became President in 1995 and the family’s first female CEO in 2008. In Carolyn’s 13 years as acting CEO, she provided a steady vision for the business, with a focus on wholesale success, customer experience, continuous improvement of systems and operational flow, and a culture of innovation. “I am excited to support and guide this management transition to the fifth generation of Wente Family Estate executives. They are a team of extremely knowledgeable, experienced, and committed leaders who will achieve our strategic vision and mission. Personally, I look forward to this new stage of stewardship in my career and providing continuity with our internal team and external partners to enable success.”
Tyson Overton will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer. Tyson joined Wente Family Estates in 2014 to lead its sales organization and most recently has been serving as the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, leading the charge on scaling Wente Family Estates’ share of the market. Tyson has proven to be an accomplished leader. Following consecutive years of growth in revenue, volume and share in the company’s wholesale business, he supported the team through a challenging, unprecedented year in 2020 and led them to over-deliver on company profit targets, driving success for the total organization. As CEO, Tyson will be part of the Senior Leadership Team comprised of family and key executives in HR, Sales, Operations, Finance, Marketing, and I.T, He is the second, non -family member to help lead the company at an important junction in its growth and strategy.
Tyson’s wine industry background includes ten years at E. & J. Gallo Winery where he held various sales and marketing roles focused on both domestic and export markets. He has also worked outside the industry as Vice President of Marketing at UnitedHealthcare and more recently in his capacity as Vice President International at 5.11 Tactical where he led expansion of the International Division. He has worked closely with Carolyn Wente since joining the company and has been a key executive in the Senior Leadership Team. “Tyson embodies the company’s core values of respect, integrity, sustainability and excellence,” adds Carolyn. “He is a highly effective leader with a strong track record of achievement in the wine industry and is well respected. I look forward to seeing Tyson leading the team to take Wente Family Estates to new heights.”
“I’m excited about the momentum we are carrying forward across our brands and businesses at Wente Family Estates, and I’m equally enthusiastic about where we are heading as an organization. It is an honor for me to support our continued success as a team and carry on the family vision,” said Overton. Today eight members of the fourth and fifth generations manage and operate the company with diverse responsibilities, led by Carolyn Wente. Together, the family team is striving to position Wente Family Estates as the most respected family-owned winery in the world. Family leadership is comprised of 4th generation winegrowers; Chairman of the Board Carolyn Wente, Chairman of the Board Emeritus Eric Wente, Vice Chairman Phil Wente; Fifth Generation Winegrowers COO and Chief Winemaker Karl D. Wente, President of Wente Foundation for Arts Education Christine Wente, Director of Marketing Aly Wente, Viticulture Manager Niki Wente, and Project Manager for Winegrowing Operations Jordan Wente.
About Wente Family Estates
Wente Family Estates was established by Carl H. Wente who came to California as an immigrant 138 years ago. The company portfolio includes Wente Vineyards, Murrieta’s Well, Hayes Ranch, Ravel & Stitch, entwine, Angels Ink, Unsullied, and Double Decker brands. The winery draws from certified sustainable estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay, and Arroyo Seco, Monterey appellations to create an outstanding array of fine wines distributed in all 50 states and over 70 countries worldwide. In 2010, it joined the top 5% of California wineries that meet all three tiers within the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing codes & designation. In 2011, Wente Family Estates was named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Wente family bringing Chardonnay cuttings to California from France. Today, the Wente clones of Chardonnay are the most widely planted in California.
Wente Family Estates is among the top 30 wineries in the United States from the standpoint of production and distribution. The winery has a brisk domestic business and a significant share of the export wine market, where the wines have enjoyed international acclaim for decades. Wente Family Estates is also a leading export company, selling wines to 75 countries globally.
Located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards is recognized as one of California’s premier wine country destinations. In 2018, the winery took a leadership role in its longstanding mission to inspire employees and guests to make time for what really matters, as realized through Wente Vineyards’ best practices, outstanding wines, and wine country experiences. For more information, visit www.wentevineyards.com.