What makes a great wine? Is it the grapes? The love and care that goes into creating the wine? The aging of the wine? Every winery and vineyard has their own ideas about what makes a wine great, and Benziger Family Winery is no different. However, this winery puts as much thought and care into crafting their wine as they do tending their farm and their business, making sure the product and the process are as green and sustainable as possible. The result? A truly great selection of wines, naturally!
How does one end up operating a winery that is Biodynamic, organic and sustainable? It didn't happen all at once for the Benziger family, who have been running the winery as a family business for almost thirty years. In the beginning, they scouted out the best areas in Sonoma County to grow grapes, and began farming the land like most of their neighbors did: by spraying for pests and weeds and to increase the amount of crops they grew. After a while, it became obvious that something was missing. The wine was decent, but each year of farming on the land caused it to become drier, with less yield. Instead of blaming the grapes or the weather, or any number of other possible causes, the family took a close look at their farming practices and realized that instead of working with nature, their current practices were working against it. It was then that they started on their path to the winery they operate today...one where the wines are as amazing as the land the grapes were grown on.
The turning point was when the Benziger family discovered Biodynamic farming, which is essentially farming that uses nature as a way to improve the farming process, from having the right flowers to attract the insects that were formerly viewed as pests, to having animals who would help keep the land in check. Suddenly, the land began to look better and wines began to taste better. Soon, the winery was operating according to a sustainability plan to ensure that the winery ran in the best, most organic way possible, and then they became certified Biodynamic. Even though the Benzigers didn't set out to run a green winery, through the process of learning which practices produced the best wines, they learned that what works best for the Earth also worked best for their family and their product.
Each certification the Benziger Family Winery holds helps bring a more distinctive, better tasting, more eco-conscious bottle to wine lovers everywhere. The Benziger vineyards are certified sustainable through Stellar Certification Services, are certified organic through Stellar or through California Certified Organic Farmers. All four of the Benziger estate vineyards are Demeter-certified Biodynamic as well. What does each certification mean for people who are interested in purchasing great wine?
Certified Sustainable: The Benziger Winery operates a Certified Sustainable vineyard program that helps growers learn sustainable methods to show them that these practices can increase the quality of the wine they produce, and requires participating growers to follow the program requirements every year in order to maintain their participation.
Certified Organic: Growing organic grapes means there are no synthetic chemicals used on the crops, and that the farm's soil and pest control is managed naturally. The end result is a better grape, and a better wine.
Certified Biodynamic: Biodynamic farming takes organic to a whole new level. Harmful chemicals and practices are eliminated, and more natural, nature-focused methods are used to grow crops and manage the farm. Working with the land results in a wine that is a better reflection of nature, with a unique flavor and aroma that truly helps to set it above the rest of the pack.
Visitors to Sonoma Valley have the chance to see a sustainable, organic, and Biodynamic vineyard up close, as the winery offers several tour and tasting options for visitors, including a tram tour and a behind-the-scenes partners tour with seated wine tasting. The winery offers their wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot and Carbernet Sauvignon, for purchase at their winery, online and through membership in their wine clubs, which gives you access to the Benziger Family wines even if you live across the country. Try a Benziger wine and taste the difference an organic, sustainably grown, Biodynamically-farmed wine makes.