In 1980, Mike Benziger and his wife Mary discovered the Glen Ellen estate at Sonoma Mountain and immediately fell in love with the land. As the land was already interspersed with wine grapes throughout the property, the vines were supposedly used as a cover crop for marijuana growing on the property during the 1960’s. Most of that crop has been removed from the soil; however some pot plants sporadically still make themselves known. Some may call it a persistent herb.

Nevertheless, Benziger has become so well known for its efforts in water conservation that it earned NRDC's Green Growing Award for Water Stewardship. On average the vineyard recycles two million gallons of water every year through home-spun wetlands and recycling ponds. Conventional wine growing methods use about 24 gallons of water per barrel and as opposed to the five used by Benziger.

Benziger is located in Glen Ellen, CA at Sonoma Mountain on an 85-acre estate, resembling that of a perfect bowl. The property has 29 unique micro-climates around the property, which need to be specially preserved. Using machines and pesticides, the heavy handed method took its toll on the land, eliminating birds, insects and life of any kind, creating a desolate wasteland.

Other farming methods were implemented that slowly commenced damage control to the land. Soon the property's water wells became lethargic and unable to keep up with irrigation. So Benziger redesigned the vineyard by matching the plant and root structure with the ground's water base. Continuing these sustainable water practices allowed Benziger to become a certified biodynamic winemaker in Napa and Sonoma counties in the year 2000, the first to receive this strict certification.

Rudolph Steiner developed the first biodynamic farming techniques in the 1920s. These techniques constitute a form of organic farming that involves both the farmer and the farm with the addition of holistic practices. Tea preparations are used to treat both the grapes and the terrior. The teas are made from everything including aged underground cow manure to chamomile. These practices and the 29 different blocks that comprise the Benziger estate add to complex and delicious wines.

News Source: Treehugger


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