Yes, Benziger certainly has the acres and acres of rolling green hills that wineries in Sonoma are known for, but they were also groundbreakers when it came to “green” wine-making tactics. The winery is famous for becoming the first in the area to be named Demeter-certified Biodynamic, the highest level of organic farming. To get there, the family-owned affair rotates crops, balances vines with olive trees, creates eco-systems that control insects instead of killing them with pesticides, and recycles a whopping two million gallons of water a year through ponds. No wonder Tiffany and I had an extra pep in our step! After an amazing kick-off at Robert Mondavi, we loved the gorgeous ride out to Benziger — and then when we got there, we were rewarded with sun and lengthy tour outdoors in all of that pesticide-free fresh air.
Having spent so many years in the southwest, I am a sucker for agave plants. It’s amazing to me how many types there are — and how tall they get. Then of course, they bloom only once!
Springtime! There were colorful flowers in bloom everywhere we looked.
Our guide? Kathy Benziger, the youngest of the seven siblings whose parents, Bruno and Helen, helped brother Mike buy the vineyard in 1981. We indulged in an outdoor mini- wine-tasting and, glass of chardonnay in hand, we jumped in a golf cart and took off to tour the grounds.
The grounds did not disappoint! While we toured, Kathy told us what it was like to be the youngest of such a tight-knit family of winos. She was still in high school when the family left New York for wine country. Did I mention that her six older siblings were all boys?
The grand finale? A peek into Benziger’s famous barrel caves — finished in 2000, they keep the aging wine at 67 degrees year-round, naturally.
Estate tour with private tasting: $40. (Three times a day, reservations recommended.)
Tram tour with tasting: $30 (On the half hour, reservations recommended.) 707.935.4527
Contact info: 707-935-4527, Benziger
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