Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Benziger Family Winery

An aerial view of Benziger Family Winery

Profile: In a valley 800 feet above sea level, you'll find Mike Benziger's Sonoma Mountain Estate, an 85-acre ranch. Thirty of these acres comprise gardens, woodlands, wetlands and wildlife sanctuaries, including the all-important insectuaries, which help control vine diseases without the use of pesticides. Over forty acres are planted with wine grapes. Some of the grapes are grown according to Biodynamic practices, and the land is a Demeter Certified Biodynamic Farm, taking into account ecological, spiritual and energetic principles in order to create a self-sufficient ecosystem that yields the highest possible quality of naturally grown grapes. Mike Benziger's preoccupation with the natural state of things extends beyond wine; his ride of choice happens to be the ecologically-friendly Toyota Prius — that is, when he's not riding his bicycle.

For a true feel for the Benziger estate, several 45-minute tours of the vineyards, gardens and wildlife sanctuaries, as well as the underground estate caves and the Glen Ellen tasting room, are offered daily. For tour information, contact the winery at 888-490-2739.

Varietal/Style: Red blend
Origin: Sonoma, CA
Vintage: 2002
Winemaker: Mike Benziger
Rating: 14/20
Retail Price: $75

Tasting Notes:
Tribute is the second vintage, and one of the winery's prized biodynamic wines, from earth-minded Mike Benziger. A near-perfect summer and excellent harvesting season allowed the 2002 harvest to flourish, making this latest release an admirable sequel to the 2001 vintage, which was one of the first Demeter-certified biodynamic wines in the country. Benziger Winery, one of the few organic wineries in California, created this Bordeaux blend from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, which combine to form a rich, velvety wine with dark flavors of blackberry, cassis and coffee. High quality tannins and a firm structure also give this wine a great potential for aging. Unfiltered and unfined, the Tribute packs a heavy amount of alcohol (14.5 per cent), so pair it with game or a rich, marbled steak. (Date tasted: 11/18/05)

Other Benziger wines we have tasted:
2002 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2004 Pinot Noir
2005 Sauvignon Blanc
2006 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc
2006 Shone Farm Sauvignon Blanc
2008 Merlot
2008 Puma Springs Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay
2009 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
2010 Carneros Chardonnay
2010 Pinot Noir
2011 Sauvignon Blanc

1883 London Ranch Rd.
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
[email protected]

Other Wineries


(Updated: 09/23/13 BH)

Sip on GAYOT's picks of the best small-production craft beers.

Sip straight or mix up a margarita with GAYOT's picks of the best tequilas under $100.