George Wisner’s grandfather was a Hanson who owned the current vineyard and the adjoining section (640 acres) over 100 years ago. George’s father died young and George inherited the land from his grandfather when he was 18. The piece next door, now owned by the Tarentinos, was left to his uncle, and the properties across Tesla were left to his aunts. George became the first Sheriff in the county stationed at Livermore. He planted the vineyard with my father-in-law in the 1940s, and supplied fine-quality Grey Riesling and Semillon grapes to Wente. I believe that would make the Wisners the Wente’s oldest supplier of grapes.
The current iteration of the vineyard started from a conversation I had with George at a family gathering and some later lunches. He was about 85 at the time, but still had a passion for the family land and he wanted to replant the vineyard that had recently succumbed to Phylloxera. The well on the property was inadequate for grape production, as it has too high a concentration of boron. What was needed was a supply of higher-quality irrigation water, and it just so happened that one of my projects at Wente was to bring a pipeline 3 miles up-valley for just that purpose. It took a while to organize and construct, and George was almost 90 when he realized the dream of a quality irrigation source at the property. He didn’t quite make it to the planting of the vineyard, which is why we have memorialized him in the vineyard’s name. I am sure he would be happy and proud to see the vineyard once again producing high quality fruit.
I planted the current vineyard with George’s daughters and son-in-law (Georgia, Nancy, and Roy Couch) in 1995-96. We used a semi-close alley spacing and varied the in-row spacing to suit the rootstock clone combos that I picked to match the soil. Currently planted are Cabernet Sauvignon 337 and 15 and Chardonnay clone 4. The vineyard is managed at the highest level to maximize quality and includes shoot, leaf and cluster thinning and minimizes chemical inputs to a bare minimum. We feel the vineyard reflects the wonderful terroir of the Livermore Valley quite nicely.