Golf courses and vineyards can be found near each other in remarkable locations the world over, but few eighteens are actually located inside a vineyard. That’s part of the appeal of Greg Norman’s design at Wente Vineyards in California’s Livermore Valley, forty-five minutes east of San Francisco. The course winds through the winery’s two thousand acres of estate vineyards, prompting the observation that you haven’t really hit one sideways until your ball ends up in a field of cabernet grapes.
Wente is California’s oldest continuously run family winery, founded by C. H. Wente in 1883. Five generations later, Karl Wente now makes the wines, and he has formally put his stamp on family tradition by debuting his Nth Degree label, the top bottlings in the company’s broad portfolio. The star of that range is the 2004 Nth Degree Cabernet Sauvignon ($60, wentevineyards.com), a luscious, blackberry-rich wine with a velvety texture. Made entirely from the fairway-laced vineyards, this cabernet would logically taste best when sipped at the Wente Grill after a round, looking out over the eighteenth green and the estate. But honestly, it’s an impressive bottle no matter where the cork gets pulled.