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St. George Spirits. PC Alex Zyuzikov

Leaders in their Field: Spotlighting Notable Stories

In this installment we highlight a few of our clients who are leading the way in their areas of the wine and spirits industry. Deserving of the spotlight, these champions are leaders in their respective regions and categories, for their innovative methods, and for their long history in excelling at what they do. Let’s raise a glass to these inspiring stories!

Barton & Guestier – A fixture in French winemaking for three centuries

Leaders not only in Bordeaux, but across France, the Barton & Guestier name is known to millions worldwide. With almost three centuries of experience in winemaking, it is the oldest winehouse of Bordeaux and producer of the first French wines that reached American soil. The brand’s comprehensive portfolio includes a variety of wines from the main French winegrowing regions of Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhône Valley, Languedoc, Gascony, and Corsica. Thomas Barton left his native Ireland and emigrated to Bordeaux when he was 30 years old and founded his shipping company in 1725. In 1802, his grandson, Hugh Barton, teamed up with his friend Daniel Guestier, a French shipowner, and Barton & Guestier was born. American president Thomas Jefferson was one of the customers of the company.

Today, the B&G winemaking team works hand in hand with almost 200 wine grower partners to produce the most authentic wines. This close collaboration allows the growers to take advantage of the team’s expertise while nurturing mutual respect and a partnership mentality. Laurent Prada, Chief Winemaker, notes that it is “this strong relationship with our partners [that] greatly helps us create a range of “true to type” French wines which also offer the “cachet” of appealing to the US palate.”

Taste this history through the Barton & Guestier AOC Bordeaux Rouge Cuvée Rambaud and AOC Bordeaux Blanc Petite Nancy, SRP $14.99 for each.

Hear Laurent Prada talk about another B&G’s wine, the Bistro Sauvignon Blanc.

Biltmore Winery – Pioneering North Carolina winemaking and across America

Biltmore Winery is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N.C. on the grounds of an 8,000-acre estate owned by the descendants of Biltmore’s original founder, George W. Vanderbilt. The ~50 acres of vineyards sit at an altitude between 2,100 and 2,500 feet and are planted to grapes that have proven to do well in the state’s sometimes unpredictable climate. These are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and some Viognier and Petit Manseng.

Biltmore Winery opened in 1985 and Current Vice President and Head Winemaker Sharon Fenchak joined the Biltmore Wine team in 1999. Today she leads this storied portfolio into the future, maintaining strong partnerships with growers around the U.S. Recognizing that North Carolina is best suited to certain styles, Biltmore has established relationships with growers in other areas of the country to be able to offer a wider selection of the finest varietals and vintages. Regardless of where the grapes are grown, Sharon oversees every step of the winemaking process. In some cases. these wines bear the American Appellation, indicating that the fruit is grown on the west coast but the wine is finished and bottled at Biltmore Winery in Asheville, North Carolina.

Taste Biltmore’s expertise in North Carolina through the Biltmore Reserve Rosé, SRP $25

Here more from Sharon about Biltmore Winery and their sourcing program.

 

Graham Beck – Cap Classique Champions

Graham Beck is THE leader in Cap Classique wines in the United States, representing 95% of the category. This iconic brand of bottle fermented sparkling wines from South Africa is lauded among the world’s best values. It has been affectionately dubbed the “President’s Choice” – the Brut Non-Vintage was served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 as well as President Barack Obama’s election night victory party in Chicago in 2008. The internal slogan, “the Graham Beck Way” refers not only to a meticulous attention to the details of grape growing and winemaking, but also to the value it places in putting people and the planet first.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of these beautiful wines, first produced in South Africa in 1971. Graham Beck has been on the forefront of Cap Classique production, leading a pioneering journey to innovate and constantly elevate the craft, consistently producing bottle fermented sparkling wines which rank among the best in the world. Join Cellarmaster Pieter Ferreira and Winemaker Pierre de Klerk as they celebrate 50 golden years of Cap Classique on August 31 with conversation and tasting. Please contact Lauren Liebler at Benson Marketing Group (liebler@bensonmarketing.com) to RSVP and receive samples.

Taste ‘the Graham Beck Way’ through the Blanc de Blancs 2015, SRP $30

Listen to Pieter Ferreira give a master class on Graham Beck.

Hahn Family Wines – Defining the SLH for 40 years

A quarter century ago, Nicky Hahn had the foresight to rally his neighbors and spearhead the process of creating a defined appellation that could gain recognition from wine lovers and wine professionals alike. In 1991, Santa Lucia Highlands was granted AVA status. Today, Hahn Family Wines vineyards equal more than 650 acres in the SLH, one of the largest shares of planted vines in the region. Hahn Family Wines’ SLH vineyards –Lone Oak, Smith, Doctor’s, and Hook –are planted on a narrow bench at elevations ranging from 200 to 1,200 feet above sea level. Plentiful sun and well-drained soils along with a long and dry growing season result in wines with remarkable depth, complexity and lush fruit flavors.

Santa Lucia Highlands AVAFor Hahn Family Wines, sustainability isn’t a trend or a passing fad. It’s a way of life. Everyone at Hahn Family Wines is committed to the idea that quality winemaking and sustainability go hand-on-hand. In 2008, Hahn Family Wines was one of the first wineries in the area to become certified sustainable under the Sustainability in Practice (or SIP) certification program. SIP’s pilot program required a rigorous three-year process that evaluated sustainability beyond the vineyards. It also ensures certified wineries care for their employees and community by holistically gauging three factors: Environmental Health, Social Equality and Economic Viability. Today, Hahn Estate operates as a 100% solar-powered winery.

Taste Hahn’s leadership in the Santa Lucia Highlands through their coveted Lucienne, small lot, single vineyard expressions of Chardonnay (SRP $40) and Pinot Noir (SRP $50)

Hear from Paul Clifton, Director of Winemaking: Lucienne Wines 2018 Vintage Spotlight

Steenberg Vineyards – History of strong, female leadership in Constantia

Recognized as the oldest registered farm in South Africa, and situated in the historic Constantia Valley, Steenberg Vineyards produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc wines in the country. It is also one of the top South African wine tourism destinations. The Steenberg story starts with its founder, Catharina Ras, who is among the most remarkable figures ever to settle in the western cape. Her personal history includes 5 husbands, most of whom met unfortunate ends; one was trampled by an elephant, one was mauled by a lion, and so forth. Despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, this brave young woman persevered and became a landowner, receiving the title deed to the farm in 1682 and turning it into a thriving venture.

Elunda BassonThis history of strong female leadership at Steenberg continues under Cellarmaster Elunda Basson. She joined the team in June 2019 at the pinnacle of a long career, which includes crafting both still and sparkling wines. To complete the triumvirate, both the General Manager and Executive Chef are also women! Tying each woman’s contributions into one experience, Tryn, Steenberg’s signature restaurant brings Catharina’s narrative into the dining experience connecting the founder’s free spirit with fabulous food by Chef Kerry Kilpin, as well as GM Catherine’s Shulze’s design and management touches and, of course, Elunda Basson’s wines.

Taste Steenberg’s innovation through the Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, a bottle fermented version of this classic variety, SRP $18.

Learn more about the property today and hear Elunda talk about the Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc here.

St. George Spirits – Independent in spirit and in fact

St. George Spirits is a true American original, defining and propelling the art of distillation in the U.S. for the last 40 years. Today, the extensive St. George Spirits portfolio of gins, vodkas, whiskeys, liqueurs, brandies and eaux de vie stands apart for not only its excellence in every category but also its expression of creativity and an uncompromising point of view. The exacting standards and commitment to raw, fresh ingredients established by founder Jörg Rupf in 1982 form the foundations by which the distillery still operates. St. George’s family of spirits has grown over the decades, and the American craft distillation movement has grown with it. The more that the landscape has changed, the more important St. George’s philosophy has become: make amazing spirits, unlike anything else available on the market, with innovation, quality, and integrity.

Passionate about the art of distillation, master distiller Lance Winters and head distiller Dave Smith are dedicated to making the absolute best spirits they can through a process of experimentation, exploration, and discovery. Some experiments become part of the esteemed St. George Spirits portfolio, some find their way onto the shelves of St. George laboratory to inspire the next extraordinary expression, but through it all, Lance and Dave create spirits that are truly unique, unlike anything you will find on the market. “We think of distillation as a conversation. Those before us had something to say, and we want to add something to that conversation, never replicating, always innovating,” says Lance.

Discover St. George’s uncompromising standards in their flagship St. George Pear Brandy (SRP $40) and St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur (SRP $35)

Taste their innovation in Baller Single Malt Whiskey (SRP $50)

Hear more from the distilling team here.

Earth Day Everyday; Environmentally Conscious Wines and Spirits

While Earth Day and Arbor Day are celebrated in the spring, when it comes to drinking consciously, that is an everyday endeavor. From sustainable certifications to the backstories of turtles, butterflies and forests, here’s our guide to what your readers should drink in honor of Mother Earth. For more information (images and samples), contact account coordinator Alex Parker at  parker@bensonmarketing.com

Hahn Family Wines, Sustainable Winegrowing is the Family’s Commitment…
Pioneers in the Santa Lucia Highlands, celebrating 40 years, Hahn Family Wines is a 100% solar-powered winery. It was also one of the first wineries in the state to have all its estate vineyards certified under the rigorous Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Program, a strict third-party program that sets the gold standard for sustainable certification. From falconry abatement to energy conservation, this independent, family-owned, and operated wine company focuses on growing and producing luxury and ultra-premium wines. Ask us about the newest release: 2019 Hahn SLH Pinot Noir ($30).

Redwood Empire Whiskey, Buy a Bottle; We’ll Plant a Tree…
New client Redwood Empire Whiskey is putting their money where their values are. Living and working among the giant redwoods is a constant reminder of what trees do for our planet’s environment and climate, so the Sonoma County distillery has partnered with Trees for the Future, an NGO responsible for planting over 189 million trees since 1989. So far, through the partnership, Redwood Empire Whiskey has planted more than 225,000 trees. Try one of Master Distiller Jeff Duckhorn’s bottlings, all priced at $44.99: Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey, Emerald Giant Rye Whiskey, or Lost Monarch Blend of Straight Whiskies (60% & 40% Bourbon). Or watch for the distillery’s first Bottled in Bond bottlings from the spring 2016 distilling season this fall.

Our Daily Wines, the #1-selling USDA Organic-certified wine…
For more than 30 years, USDA Organic Certified Our Daily Wines is the trusted source for organic, vegan and gluten free wines with no detectible sulfites. Being USDA Organic means that in addition to using organic grapes, the wines are produced in a certified organic winemaking facility and any ingredient used to make the wine – including yeast – is certified organic. Fun Fact: Each bottle of Our Daily Wine removes its weight worth of carbon from the air (Source: Our Daily Wine sources 300+ acres of USDA organic vineyards, each acre of USDA Organic farming removes an avg of 7,000lbs of carbon dioxide annually). Try Our Daily Cabernet Sauvignon ($10.99/750ml bottle) or cut down on your own carbon footprint with fewer trips to the store. The Our Daily 1.5L bag-in-box is available at popular wine retailers and stays fresh for up to four weeks! ($17.99).

Chateau Magnol, Practicing Sustainability Thanks to a Turtle…
While Barton & Guestier’s flagship property in Bordeaux, Chateau Magnol, is known for its commitment to sustainable development and environmental practices – both ISO 14001 certification and an HVE 3 label, some of the most demanding French certifications to hold in the wine industry, it was nothing more than a turtle that set them on this path. In the 1970s, when Barton & Guestier acquired the property, a highway construction project threatened the adjacent marshland, home to a turtle species whose population was also threatened. Eventually, the marsh was set up as a nature reserve and the highway project rejected. Since this victory, Chateau Magnol has not stopped working to protect its environment, so try the Chateau Magnol AOC Haut-Medoc 2016, SRP $29.99, and let’s hear it for the turtles!

Veuve du Vernay, Uses Organic Ink and Recycled Paper on its NEW Sparkling Brut Organic NV
Veuve du Vernay, the #1 French sparkling wine brand under $20 in the U.S., channeling classic Parisian lifestyle and joie de vivre, launched Veuve du Vernay Sparkling Organic NV (SRP $18.99), a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc vinified with the Charmat Method. The Sparkling Brut Organic was created using organic and sustainable agricultural practices and is certified organic with the NOP3 designation from France, a certification recognized in the U.S. Check out the wine’s packaging as the label is made from recycled paper and the writing is done with organic ink.

Biltmore Winery, Celebrating A Legacy of Conservation and Forestry
Biltmore Winery, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina on George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate, strives for environmental stewardship and sustainability in winemaking. When it comes to grapes, nothing goes unused. All remaining parts -the skins, seeds and woody stems — are combined with recycled plants and other organic matter at a large compost site, making for a great fertilizer that is used across Biltmore Estate’s gardens as well as for field crops that feed wildlife on the estate. Other practices include milkweed plantings to support Monarch butterfly populations on their migration, solar panels on the estate to offset more than 20% of the energy needs, and cooking oil waste collected to recycle into biodiesel to powers vehicles used in the estate’s farming and agricultural (and viticulture) practices. But before all that, did you know that a large portion of what is now the Pisgah National Forest can be directly attributed to George Vanderbilt? With Frederick Law Olmstead designing the surrounding grounds, over 300 trees were planted and eventually the Biltmore Forest School was established, the first of its kind. Its pupils would go to be the first generation of American forestry professionals. Check out the Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Chardonnay (SRP $25) made from grapes grown in vineyards on the estate.

Graham Beck, Multi-Faceted Conservation Efforts in South Africa
Graham Beck, one of South Africa’s premier producers of Méthode Cap Classique wines, has established pioneering programs to nurture, protect and conserve the precious natural heritage of the Western Cape and Robertson Valley. Among some of the more noteworthy or unusual, a WWF Certification from the World Wildlife Fund, as they continue to protect over 39,000 acres of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom, designated as one of 34 global ecological hotspots and the smallest of only six floral kingdoms on Earth. Pop open the Brut or the Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV – SRP $20 or  Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2015 – SRP $30.

Bye Bye ABC: Explore Chardonnay’s Many Expressions

It’s no secret that Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. A truly versatile, green-skinned varietal that’s capable of great expression, Chardonnay is growing in pretty much every wine-producing region. The public has had its share in the rise (and fall) in popularity of the grape, as winemakers around the world have turned their hand to adapting it to a broad array of styles.

What better way to mark both #NationalWineDay (May 25) and #ChardonnayDay (May 27) in 2021 than with a celebration of Chardonnay based wines. Nielsen data show it is the second most popular wine in U.S. by sales volume, after Cabernet Sauvignon. (52 weeks ending 11/28/20).  We conducted another in our series, BensonLive Presents, called “Cheers to Chardonnay,” which aired May 25, 2021; you can view the video on our YouTube channel.

Writers: if you’re challenged to find new and interesting angles, Benson’s client roster has a bevy of Chardonnays – from unoaked to oaky still wines, bubbly and attention-grabbing packaging and campaigns, there’s an array of Chardonnay in our court to choose from. Below are just a select few to tickle your palate!

No Oak Bomb Here

Balletto Vineyards Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay – Russian River Valley, California – SRP $20 – At Balletto Vineyards, one of the few family-owned estate wineries in the Russian River Valley wine region of Sonoma County, all the wines are grown on sustainably farmed estate vineyards and reflect the Balletto family’s passion for the land. This one continues to define California’s Unoaked Chardonnay category. Crisp and vibrant, yet amazingly luscious, it showcases how chardonnay does not need flashy oak or malolactic fermentation to be distinct and delicious. It’s mouthwatering with refreshing acidity that contrasts its surprisingly robust and weighted mid-palate.

Bubble Up!

Graham Beck Brut Blanc de Blanc – Robertson, Western Cape, South Africa – SRP $30 – This 100% Chardonnay Méthode Cap Classique wine (the South African style of méthode champenoise). Only the cuvée juice (premium quality) was used for fermentation from the best selection of grapes in Robertson. It is one of South Africa’s most awarded sparkling wines and showcases what the “Graham Beck way” truly means.

Hahn Winery Selection Blanc de Blanc – Santa Lucia Highlands, California – SRP $50 – Limited production. Carefully sourced from of select vineyards in Monterey County, this sparkling wine is crafted from 100% Chardonnay, picked in early August when sugars were low and acid beautiful. Done in a Méthode Champenoise, this wine spent 30 months in the bottle. Generous aromas of strawberry and cranberry are complimented by fresh floral notes. The palate opens with flavors of peach, cantaloupe, and strawberry, finishing with hints of honey, light minerality and beautiful acidity.

Packaging & Inspirational Campaigns

Bread & Butter Chardonnay – California – SRP $15.99 – Bread & Butter believes good things shouldn’t be complicated, and neither should you! They launched a 360-degree campaign dubbed, “Don’t Overthink It” essentially giving wine lovers the freedom to simply enjoy. Made for beautiful spring afternoons, Bread & Butter Chardonnay is a simple and easy drinking wine. Delicately balancing flavors of green apple and citrus, this Chardonnay is made to be enjoyed year-round.

Hahn Appellation Series Chardonnay – Arroyo Seco, California – SRP $17.99 – The Hahn Appellation Series, a new addition to Hahn Family Wines, is replete with gorgeous dark teal and copper packaging and screw cap. Grapes for this wine are sourced from Ste. Nicholas vineyard, one of the family’s six certified sustainable estate vineyards, in Arroyo Seco, one of the smallest AVAs in California. Bright light gold in appearance with aromas of tropical fruit, vanilla, honey and caramel. On the palate, vibrant flavors of pineapple, lemon, apricot and gentle notes of honey, followed by nuanced toasty spice on the finish.

True Myth Chardonnay – Edna Valley, California – SRP $18 – With inspiration drawn from Mother Nature, this wine honors the grace and beauty of the vineyard. Cool climate Edna Valley is an ideal environment for Chardonnay, producing a rich and creamy wine bursting with tropical fruit flavors, making it a great wine for the spring. BONUS: Stay Tuned for limited-edition Ryder Cup x True Myth Edna Valley Chardonnay summer 2021; perfect gift idea for the golf enthusiast in your life!

Everyday Occasions Under $20

Highlands 41 Chardonnay – Monterey, California – SRP $15 – Artfully crafted by fourth generation winemaker Anthony Riboli, Highlands 41 Chardonnay is grown from sustainably farmed estate vineyards in the heart of Monterey and produced at the Riboli Family sustainably certified winery in Paso Robles. It greets the nose with an array of ripe fruit aromas, including citrus, guava, and orange peel. A touch of spicy oak adds complexity. Balanced acidity creates structure and a long, complex finish. This brand captures the energy and excitement of visiting somewhere new, meeting new people, and exploring new adventures.

Reata Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – Sonoma Coast, California – SRP $20 – Created with grapes from Russian River Valley and Los Carneros during a perfect and extended growing season, this Chardonnay has naturally high acidity with fresh fruit aromatics and flavors of apple blossom, honeydew melon, guava and grapefruit zest. The creamy texture and rich flavors of toasted oak are framed by its bright acidity that lifts the fruit and leaves a lingering finish. Made by veteran winemaker Linda Trotta with more than 35 years of winemaking experience.

Step It Up $20+

Baileyana Firepeak Chardonnay – Edna Valley, California – SRP $28 – Grown in the coolest climate region in California, which also enjoys an extended growing season, this Chardonnay has intense and complex varietal flavors. It’s smooth and balanced with refined acid structure and a creamy finish. Named after the Acacia Baileyana plant that is beloved for its yellow flowers and is synonymous with the traverse mountain ranges of California, including Edna Valley, the beautiful label design pays homage to this namesake.

Balletto Vineyards Chardonnay – Russian River Valley, California – SRP $29 – Made by Balletto Vineyards, one of the few family-owned estate wineries in the Russian River Valley wine region of Sonoma County, the texture and balance are spot on, making it one of those wines that draws you in for another sip. Both complex and elegant, showing its cool-climate heritage with concentrated flavors and a dark and lasting texture that has perfectly bright citrus tones for balance. It opens with warm spices, ripe pear and lemon aromas. New oak has been used sparingly to enhance the wine with subtle toasted tones, rather than dominate the aromatic profile. This is serious Chardonnay with depth, structure and finesse.

Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay – North Carolina – SRP $25 – Bearing the North Carolina designation, the Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay was crafted with grapes from the estate vineyard. In this way the wine honors the legacy of self-sufficiency that George Vanderbilt originally envisioned for his estate. Channel a bit of Vanderbilt level hospitality with this Chardonnay.

Hahn SLH Chardonnay – Santa Lucia Highlands, California – SRP $25 – Great Value, Tastes Expensive. The ‘SLH’ label is the flagship of Hahn Family Wines, celebrating their 40th anniversary. This is a true ‘gem’ from the small, but mighty Santa Lucia Highlands. This wine greets the nose with citrus and stone fruits, followed with hints of ripe tropical fruit and vanilla. On the palate, this wine is full-bodied with a viscous round mouthfeel, balanced acidity and flavors of lemon, vanilla and delicate butter notes that lead to an elegant long finish.

Lucienne Chardonnay, Lone Oak Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands, California – SRP $40 – Family Owned. Estate Grown. Limited production. This 90+ rated wine from Hahn Family Wine’s 146-acre certified sustainable Lone Oak Vineyard sits at the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands where it is cooled by ocean breezes from the Monterey Bay. This 2018 Chardonnay is beautifully balanced with a profile that is sophisticated and nuanced. Aromas of fruity floral lychee, honeysuckle and ripe citrus with a hint of vanilla. The palate is feminine and dry in character, with delicate and elegant notes of silky citrus, hints of toasty oak and medium acidic finish.

Sauvignon Blanc: Through the Eyes of Winemakers

Sauvignon Blanc is having a moment.

In July 2020, Nielsen reported it was the fastest growing wine type with a 38 percent increase in sales. Even before the pandemic, volume was up 8.9 percent in 2019. This can be attributed to a variety of factors like how the grape grows very well in multiple regions, its accessibility around the world, and its range of price points for buyers.

Benson’s press webinar was held April 22, 2021. To review materials, view this Dropbox link.  Or, you can view the webinar on YouTube here.

Take it from these winemakers who have mastered the grape’s potential and consistently create standout bottles.

Anthony Beckman, Balletto Vineyards 

Working with 850 acres of estate vineyards at Balletto Vineyards, Anthony Beckman is able to create unique wines specific to the Russian River Valley area. Working there since 2007, he has contributed to much of the vineyard’s success and continues to do so with his approach to winemaking. His philosophy is to let the vineyards authentically speak through the wines to make the statement, “this wine can only be grown and made here.”  

Let the vineyard speak to you through this Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, California – SRP $20 

Elunda Basson

Elunda Basson, Steenberg Vineyards 

An accomplished winemaker and respected specialist in South Africa with more than 20 years of experience, Elunda Basson took her talent to Steenberg Vineyards as Cellarmaster in 2019. The vineyard produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc wines in the country due to its location in the Constantia area near the ocean and its storied winemaking history dating back to 1682. Under Elunda’s expertise, the wines exhibit freshness, elegance, and finesse.  

Enjoy this unique twist on Sauvignon Blanc: Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia, South Africa – SRP $18 

Juan Jo VerdinaJuan Jo Verdina, Hahn Family Wines 

Joining Hahn Family Wines in 2002 as part of the cellar team and working toward becoming Winemaker, Juan Jo Verdina knows the wine production of the estate inside and out. He heads the Hahn and Boneshaker brands with Hahn’s portfolio including six varietals and Boneshaker’s focusing on a robust Lodi Zinfandel from 40-year-old vines. The Hahn Winery Selection Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from a vineyard in Monterey County that experienced a mild vintage resulting in a naturally balanced acidity.  

Taste the Hahn experience with its Sauvignon Banc: Hahn Winery Selection Sauvignon Blanc, Monterey, California​​ – SRP $32 

Rob Takigawa, Tangent Wines  

With 20 years of experience working with Tangent, Rob Takigawa worked his way up starting as a Tank Room Manager, then Assistant winemaker, Winemaker and now, Director of Winemaking. He has grown further knowledge with each passing vintage, learning how to capture Edna Valley’s uniqueness to the rest of California’s growing regions. The Sauvignon Blanc is harvested at different levels to achieve the ideal finish and sourced from a vineyard with a Sustainability in Practice Vineyard Certification. 

Try a uniquely Edna Valley Sauvignon Blanc: Tangent Sauvignon Blanc, Edna Valley, California​ – SRP $17 

 

Linda Trotta, North Coast Winemaker, WX Brands

With 30+ years in the industry, Linda has worked harvests around the world including Italy, South Africa and Chile. One thing she is most proud of in her career is that in her leadership role(s), she mentored and developed talent who have gone on to make their own marks of excellence in winemaking and viticulture. Her Bread & Butter Sauvignon Blanc shines with bright aromas of lemon zest and a hint of tropical fruit. The Silver Spur Lake County Sauvignon Blanc is made from sustainably grown Sauvignon Musque Clone, known for its intensity and array of aromas and notes associated with expressive and fine Sauvignon Blanc.

Silver Spur Lake County Sauvignon Blanc 2019, SRP $18 Wine.com

Bread & Butter Sauvignon Blanc 2019, SRP $16.99 Online shop

 

Positive on Paso: Why you should be looking at Paso Robles for Cabernet Sauvignon

Positive on Paso: Why You Should Look to Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Cab is still ‘king’ in the U.S. wine market, but 2020 has shown it’s time to start looking at the areas these wines come from differently. According to Sovos ShipCompliant data, Cabernet is still the most ordered varietal, but the price per bottle is dropping.

And why is that?

COVID-19 lockdowns drove many people to buy online, and many of those buyers were in the Gen X and Millennial generations, an important demographic for the present and future of the wine industry. Looking for good value in the bottle, they migrated towards Cabernet’s NOT from pricey areas like Napa Valley.

Enter Paso Robles.

This region has long been known as a region that delivers all of the fruit and structure wanted in a Cab for more approachable prices. These are wines to enjoyed with family and friends at any time and not stored away for special occasions. But don’t take our word for it. Explore these Paso Robles clients, their winemakers and wines with our webinar, “BensonLive Presents: Positive on Paso Cab,” an interview with four winemakers taped June 24, 2021, located here on our YouTube channel.

Clockwise from top left: Kip Lorenzetti, Anthony Riboli, Roy Takigawa, Megan McCollough

Megan McCollough, Smith & Hook, Hahn Family Wines
Megan McCollough, Smith & Hook Winemaker, leads Hahn Family Wines’ Central Coast red wines that pay homage to the Hahn family’s first Monterey County properties. With nearly a decade of winemaking experiences under her belt, McCollough is setting an example for other young winemakers in California. Try one of her latest wines from Paso Robles: Smith & Hook Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, SRP $45

Kip Lorenzetti, Chronic Cellars
Kip Lorenzetti’s winemaking career has taken him around the world, but he has called Paso Robles home for more than five years. Prior to Chronic Cellars, he was the winemaker at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard, a pioneer in the Paso Robles area. It is the mission of Chronic Cellars to bring the nuances of the 11 different sub-AVAs in Paso into its wines. Good wine is in the winery’s bones.
Check out something noble with Chronic Cellars Sir Real Cabernet Sauvignon, SRP $15

Rob Takigawa, True Myth
Rob has been making wine in SLO County for over 20 years. Each vintage has furthered his knowledge of growing and making excellent wine in Paso Robles. A native of the Central Coast, Rob is a graduate of Cal Poly with a Soil Science Degree. After first understanding the science side of wine, Rob was inspired to get his hands dirty and ventured into the in winemaking side in 1997. From there he has never looked back. Taste his experience in Paso through the latest vintage of True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon, SRP $24

Anthony Riboli, Highlands 41, Riboli Estates Group
Fourth generation family winemaker Anthony Riboli received his M.S. in Viticulture from the University of California, Davis. Since apprenticing under Michael Weis at Groth in Napa Valley, he has lead winemaking and grape growing for the California portfolio at Riboli Family Wines. Anthony’s foremost goal has been a meticulous focus in the vineyards as well as winemaking at Riboli Family’s state-of-the-art facility in Paso Robles. Start your Paso Robles adventure here: Highlands 41 Cabernet Sauvignon, SRP $15

Contact Thea Schlendorf at schlendorf@bensonmarketing.com to connect with these winemakers and their wines.

panoramic view of Santa Lucia Highlands

5 Things to Know About the Santa Lucia Highlands

The Santa Lucia Highlands flies under the radar for many wine lovers, but Pinot Noir and Chardonnay enthusiasts know to look to this region for remarkably consistent wines. Here are five more facts to get you oriented to Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH) AVA.

  • Cool Climate Varieties Dominate: The SLH AVA is comprised of 6,400 planted acres, with a majority being Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is worth noting that the appellation stretches roughly 18-miles long, two miles wide, and 22,000 total acres, much of it unplantable mountainside.
  • The Pioneers: In 1973, the first commercial plantings began with early pioneers, such as Hahn Family Wines founder, Nicky Hahn, established the first quality, modern-era vineyards. In 1991, compelled by the application submitted by pioneers like, Mr. Hahn, the SLH was officially recognized as an American Viticulture Area.
  • Cool+Dry+Wind = Loooong Growing Season: It’s not atypical for a Santa Lucia Highland growing season to stretch from February through November.
  • More about that Wind: A defining feature of the region, strong daily 5-25 mph winds off Monterey Bay are key factor in long “hang time” and phenolic ripeness – winds diminish photosynthesis early in the day, extending the growing season.
  • Location, location, location: Located in Monterey County adjacent to the famed Salinas Valley, the eastern facing vineyards of the SLH stretch between 50’ and 1,650’ above sea level.

Expert Source: Paul Clifton, Director of Winemaking for Hahn Family Wines, has spent a career understanding the wind, sun and soils of the Santa Lucia Highlands.  If you’re looking for more information regarding the SLH or about Hahn Family Wines for any upcoming features please contact Alex Parker at parker@bensonmarketing.com to schedule an interview.

Paul Clifton beside wine barrels
Paul Clifton, Director of Winemaking for Hahn Family Wines