Where is Benziger Family Winery and why should you visit: Benziger Family Winery is located in Sonoma’s charming Glen Ellen, just a few minutes away from the fabulous Glen Ellen Star Restaurant and is one of the most gorgeous wineries I’ve ever visited. It’s located adjacent to Jack London State Historic Park, another must see in Sonoma!
What sets Benziger apart from other wineries: Benziger Family Wines is like no other winery not only because of the winery’s beautiful setting and incredible wines but because they also are a Biodynamic Winery. That means that on their Benziger Winery premisesthey farm biodynamically. Also, all the Vineyards they source grapes from are Certified Sustainable, Organic or Biodynamic.
Benziger Winery Certified Biodynamic: All six of the Benziger estate vineyards are Demeter-certified Biodynamic. Biodynamics is the highest level of organic farming. Developed in the 1920’s, Biodynamics views the vineyard as a single organism. With this approach, eliminating synthetic chemicals is just the beginning. Biodynamics goes further, encouraging biodiversity, a closed nutrient system, the use of homeopathic teas and a close personal connection to the land. Benziger Family Winery began transitioning their home ranch on Sonoma Mountain in the mid-nineties.
The owl boxes attract the local Barn Owl which helps to keep the gopher population down, which in-turn helps to protect their very deep, 25ft plus root zone, protected.
What are some of the practices of Biodynamic farming: Instead of bagged fertilizer, weed killer and pesticides biodynamic wineries rely on composting, natural predator-prey relationships, cover crops, and the animals that live on their estate to keep their vineyard healthy and balanced. Some of the animals found at Benziger includeinclude Scottish Highland Cattle, chickens, sheep and bees. They also have bat and bluebird habitats in addition to the Barn Owls.
What does Benziger being certified sustainable mean: Created with the help of environmental experts and Stellar Certification Services, their third-party certified-sustainable vineyard program is one of the most comprehensive in the country. The program, which emphasizes environmentally sound growing methods, such as biodiversity, soil revitalization and Integrated Pest Management (IPM), shows growers how to cultivate grapes with more character, flavors and aromas with the goal of making better, genuinely distinctive wines.
The gorgeous garden centrally located within the Benziger Family Vineyard. Within this garden, known as the Insectory, you’ll see a wide range of different plants and flowers all in place to attract native predatory insects, wild and honey bees and various bird species including the very important Blue Bird. Each one of the various elements within the ecosystem is critical for the biodynamic farming.
Enjoying a taste of the Paradiso de Maria, Benziger Estate Sauvignon Blanc.. This is one of the most picturesque spots that I’ve enjoyed a Wine Tasting at with garden views overlooking the beautiful flowers and wildlife.
The man made ponds and wetlands used to recycle all the grey water coming off the property so that it can be used again to water the gardens and grounds.
The Wine & Cheese pairing I experienced in the cave
Some of the elements used in the biodynamic farming. The horn is what is used to create the potion (replacing synthetic commercial fertilizer) which is filled with manure collected from their herd of Scottish Highland cattle, mixed with ground quartz and buried in the earth for six months time to then be used in replace of synthetic commercial fertilizer. Fun Fact, one horn of manure equates to a 25lb bag of synthetic commercial fertilizer. The farmer needs one horn per acre.
Cheers to the fabulous Benziger Family Winery. It was a true pleasure visiting and experiencing your beautiful winery while learning about your biodynamic farming as well as tasting your incredible wines. I can’t wait to return and experience Benziger again in the near future!