Benziger is located in Glen Ellen, a one stop-sign village in Sonoma County 20 minutes from town of Sonoma. Our tour guide, Betsy, was prompt for our 10am appointment and our party of four boarded a biodiesel tram (large golf cart) for an exclusive 1 ½ hour tour of the property (farm, ranch and vineyards).
Benziger Family Winery
Glen Ellen, Sonoma County
85 acres – 30 cares ranch and gardens, 42 acres vineyards
Benziger produces approximately 130,000 cases annually but takes great pride in their practice of biodynamic farming. Started in 1980’s by the Benziger family from Bronx NY, Benziger Winery became one of the first USA wineries to receive biodynamic certification in 2001. Today wineries promote their practice of sustainability but there is little accountability without certification from a reputable organization. There are few wineries who are organic certified and even fewer who are biodynamic certified.
Cow manure is organic and replaces industrial fertilizers.
Grazing sheep replace machines for weed control.
This begs the question “why would a winery become biodynamic?” Organic farming relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost and pest control, and utilizes “natural” (no synthetic petrochemicals) fertilizers and pesticides. BIODYNAMIC is the highest form of organic farming and is a “closed” system that does not allow external inputs. For example, the fertilizer is manure of resident farm animals and the pesticides are “friendly insects” bred on the farm. Biodynamic farming uses the celestial calendar to schedule events. Critics say it’s foolishness to stuff cow horns with manure and plant the horns in the vineyard during a full moon! (This does stretch one’s imagination.)
Gardens attract “good” insects to keep “bad” insects under control.
Biodynamic certification does not allow herbicides or fungicides.
The Benziger family believes this holistic approach to a healthy balanced environment in and around the vineyard creates a strong taste of TERROIR (French word for land or soil), an Old World characteristic in their wines.
Closed ecosystem enables wastewater ponds to recycle water to estate
Water is pumped from ponds for drip-watering vineyards.
The wines below are a sampling of the many Benziger wines.
Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2011 ($17)
Aromas of black olive and savory, dark fruit. Flavors of black currant, cherry and juicy plum.
Benziger Chardonnay Sonoma County 2012 ($15)
Flavors include ripe peach and pear with hint of vanilla. Barrel aging contributes subtle, toasty oak notes.
Benziger Merlot Sonoma County 2011 ($17)
Hand-picked Merlot from Alexander Valley and Carneros. Aromas of dark fruit and spice with black raspberry and ripe plum flavors.
Estate grown classic Bordeaux blend primarily Cabernet Sauvignon. First certified-Biodynamic wine from Sonoma County and one of the first from North America. Fresh aromas and flavors of blueberry and other black fruit, dark chocolate and coffee.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…
What age group of consumers buys the most organic products and why?
- Boomers (over 50 years old)
- Mid–lifers (30 to 50 years old)
- Yuppies (20 to 30 years old)