Benovia Winery - A Sonoma Wine Country Jewel
September 15, 2013
Sonoma County has so many gems but clearly one of the sparkling
jewels in its tiara is Benovia Winery. Benovia's main property is
located just a little west and north of Santa Rosa where the winery
and visitor's center sit in the middle of lush vineyards in the
Russian River Valley Appellation (RRV AVA).
Benovia is the love child of Joe Anderson and his wife Mary and
wine-making partner Mike Sullivan. They are passionate about what
they are about and that passion is reflected by everyone associated
with the winery.
Like the wineries name, a derivation of Mary and Joe's father's
first names (Ben and Novian), Benovia is a family of passionate
people bound together by the excitement and love for what they are
Joe purchased his first vineyard, Cohn Vineyard, near Healdsburg
in the Russian River Valley in 2003. Cohn was planted in 1970 and
produces wonderfully intense fruit. For the first few years, Joe
and Mary were growers providing Pinot Noir grapes to now iconic
powerhouse Kosta Browne
Winery. In 2005, they bought another vineyard with a winery on it
in Santa Rosa. Joe needed a winemaker to grow the business and in
the process of finding one, he found something more, a partner with
a passion for Chardonnay.
Mike Sullivan, a native of the Russian River area, honed his
skills at Hartford Family Winery for eight years as winemaker. What
he achieves at Benovia are wines that express their vintage, their
terroir and, of course, their individual nature rather than trying
to achieve the specific characteristics of a named varietal. By
doing this he hopes (and succeeds) in producing unique luxury wines
with amazing textures and flavor profiles.
In 2008, the partners purchased a beautiful 58 acre property
which surrounds their 2005 purchase in Santa Rosa. They named the
vineyard, Martaella, by combining the first names of their mother's
(Martha and Eleanor).
Shortly after purchasing the property they planted 42 acres of
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. What makes Martaella Vineyard special is
the high density vine planting technique employed by Benovia. This
results in over 2,000 vines per acre, which is significantly higher
than most California vineyards. Counter-intuitively, root density
increases with vine density (rather than competing) and thus uses
irrigation water more efficiently and thereby uses less water. It
also requires special equipment to fit in between these tight rows
(4-5' apart). Benovia acquires their specialized equipment from
Benovia sources grapes from their own estate properties in the
RRV, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Mountain as well as
from growers there and the Anderson Valley. All these locations
possess prime terroir for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel.
As a smaller winery, between 5-7k cases annually, they are
focused on the production of their luxury wines. Regular tasting
hours are not maintained so you'll have to make an appointment.
They are available virtually any day by phoning in advance at
707-526-4441 or by e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you really want to make it a wine country experience check out
their Vineyard Hideaway Cottage in the middle of Martaella Vineyard
which is available for rent.
Make it a priority to experience these special wines and get a
sense of why their tagline, "People Producing California Wines With
Passion" is so perfect. Review the List to see why Benovia has such