About the Wente Foundation for Arts Education
Family owned and operated, Wente Family Estates has been producing sustainable, estate grown wine since 1883. Since 1986, the winery has hosted The Concerts at Wente Vineyards, bringing world-class musicians to the Livermore Valley. For decades, Wente Family Estates has supported many local organizations, with an emphasis on arts and education. The Wente Foundation for Arts Education, established in 2012, is a natural extension of our commitment to the arts and our community.
In April 2014, the Wente Foundation for Arts Education invited education leaders from throughout the Tri-Valley, including the Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents from all four school districts and the leaders of the education foundations in all four districts, to discuss opportunities to enhance arts education in the region. This group of education leaders formed the Tri-Valley Arts Education Initiative. We are using this model of regional collaboration to share our resources in order to create programs that benefit all students in the region. This group has completed an inventory of its existing arts education programs as well as an assessment of its arts education needs, which guides our grant-making process.
We believe that music, visual arts and performing arts are an essential part of a comprehensive education. Numerous studies demonstrate that the arts not only positively influence children’s cognitive and social development, but the arts also help students engage with school and prepare for their future careers.
Christine Wente, President
Christine helped establish the Wente Foundation in 2012, and she now manages the day-to-day operations of the foundation, including fundraising, grants and communications. In 2000, Christine Wente became the first member of the fifth generation to join the family business, bringing new perspectives to the country’s longest continuously operated family-owned winery. She is an active spokesperson for the company, and a member of the Board of Directors. From 2000 to 2007, Christine focused on selling and marketing her family’s wines in the United States and international markets. As Senior Vice President of Hospitality from 2008 through 2010, Christine oversaw the operations and marketing of the family’s thriving lifestyle business. Before joining her family’s business, Christine worked in sales and marketing for E & J Gallo Winery. She is currently on the board of the Wine Institute and the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Foundation, planning the Livermore Valley Wine Auction to raise money for local children’s charities. She received her BA from Princeton University and her MBA from Stanford University. Christine lives in the East Bay with her husband, son and daughter.
Suzi Potts, Board Member
Suzi is the Senior Vice President, Head of People at Wente Family Estates. In 2018, Suzi Potts joined Wente Family States as the Vice President of Human Resources. Prior to joining Wente Family Estates, Suzi’s career in the wine and spirits industry began at Southern Wine & Spirits. Suzi joined Southern Wine & Spirits in Northern California and was an individual contributor attracting talent and building college recruitment strategies. Over Suzi’s path at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, she grew into strategic talent management roles coupled with talent acquisition and diversity and inclusion Ultimately, she landed in the West Region’s “Center of Excellence,” where she oversaw this discipline for the West. Suzi completed her undergraduate degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Speech Communication with a Minor in Debate. Suzi completed a certificate in Human Resources Management at U.C. Berkeley and she received her Master’s Degree in Counseling, Psychology and Education at Santa Clara University. This past year, Suzi finished her educational journey by securing her Doctorate in Industrial Psychology at Capella University. She lives in Pleasanton and is excited to be on the WFAE board to advance the mission of arts education programs in the Livermore Valley and beyond.
Aly Wente, Board Member
Fifth Generation Winegrower, Aly Wente, supports her family’s business in the role of Director of Marketing. In this position, Aly oversees the marketing organization and growth for the total Wente Family Estates portfolio of brands. Aly also oversees the digital and ecommerce, customer experience, and wine club management teams. Aly joined Wente Family Estates in July of 2019 as the Senior Brand Manager of Wente Vineyards. In this position Aly played an important leadership role in developing and executing strategic marketing plans and activities that support long-term and short-term goals for the Wente Vineyards brand. Prior to joining the family business Aly held brand marketing roles at Constellation Brands, where she led strategy and development of a portfolio of their luxury brands. Aly is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from which she received her Bachelor of Science in Journalism in 2013.
Jordan Wente, Board Member
Jordan Wente joined her family’s winery in 2015. Before joining Wente Vineyards, she served as the Chief Operations Officer for the Californians Dedicated to Education (CDE) Foundation. Formed in July 2011, the CDE Foundation’s mission is to improve public school education in California by supporting the implementation of policy goals identified in A Blueprint for Great Schools that improve health and education outcomes for students. Jordan managed the day-to-day operations and initiatives of the Foundation and worked in collaboration with the board of directors to implement and shape the strategic goals of the organization. With Jordan’s leadership, in two short years the CDE Foundation developed into a thriving organization that raised over $2.5 million for initiatives mutually supported by State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) Tom Torlakson and the State Board of Education (SBE). Jordan holds a Masters in Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University and Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with an emphasis in international relations from The University of Colorado Bolder. She currently resides in Livermore with her husband, daughter, and two sons and she is an avid painter.
Karl Wente, Board Member
Fifth Generation Winegrower and Winemaker Karl Wente is responsible for all winemaking at Wente Family Estates. Since joining the business in 2002, Karl has overseen the production of the winery’s Estate Grown and Small Lot wines. His passion for artisanal, handcrafted wines has led to the addition of limited release wines, The Nth Degree series, as well as the development of a small lot winemaking facility within the main winery. Karl grew up working at Wente Family Estates and chose to gain experience at other wineries, the Peter Michael Winery in Napa and Brown Brothers winery in Victoria, Australia. Karl graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Chemical Engineering and graduate school at the University of California at Davis, where he earned two Masters degrees: one in viticulture and one in enology. He also plays and performs with his band, The Front Porch, and is proud to create The Art of Giving, a delicious red blend that supports the mission of The Wente Foundation for Arts Education.
Niki Wente, Board Member
Niki Wente studied Viticulture and Enology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After graduation in 2014, she worked in San Francisco and then in the North Coast wine region before joining the family business in 2017. She now manages the vineyards for Wente Family Estates in both the Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco, Monterey. As the Viticulture Supervisor, Niki works to promote healthy soils and happy vines while running a sustainable operation. In 2017 she made her very first wine, a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc from Arroyo Seco. She is the newest member of the Alameda County Recourse Conservation District Board of Directors, giving her a deeper connection to the county and farmers within the county. Growing up, Niki sang in the local choir as well as playing the violin, clarinet and the piano. Now, she enjoys singing with the car radio, and occasionally joining her cousin Karl and sister Aly for some front porch music.