A Tribute to the Bond of Brothers
The sun was just peeking over Sonoma Mountain as we reached the end of the driveway. Golden rays poured into the 360-degree bowl — a caldera formed by a now-extinct volcano — that sits in the vine-filled valley 800 feet above sea level. It was a perfect, bluebird summer morning in Sonoma County, and to my delight, we were greeted at the edge of the Benziger Family Winery by a handsome four-legged tour guide named Bluie. Behind him was Chris Benziger, youngest of the five Benziger brothers. With me is Lazy Dog founder Chris Simms, who embraces Chris Benziger. Right away it’s clear these two are cut from the same cloth.
Bluie leads the way, and we follow on foot through the idyllic overgrown rows of greenery. Simms and Benziger quickly connect over the challenges and joys of working with brothers, both having lots of experience with family business. Benziger’s face lights up as he reminisces growing up with four older brothers. As you can imagine, nothing came easy. He tells us, “Even the nightly dinner table turned into a ‘survival of the fittest’ situation.”
And anyone who grew up with siblings can relate to that, right? What’s harder to imagine is how magical it must have been to grow up on this vineyard, surrounded by mossy woodlands, redwood circles and wildlife galore. I picture the brothers like the lost boys exploring the property that feels more like Neverland than wine country.
Forty years later, Benziger reflects on the legacy and winery that they built together. As we head down past their incredible insectary and toward the original redwood house that the boys grew up in, Benziger points out his old bedroom window and explains how brotherly rivalries and wrestling matches in the woods eventually morphed into a deep commitment and shared passion for what they were creating together. “We each contributed in our own way, and together we were stronger than any of us alone.”
As we walk down to a shady spot under the big oak tree at the center of the property, Benziger disappears for a minute, Bluie never more than a few steps behind him. When he come back, he has three glasses and a chilled bottle of white in his hands. “This wine is a tribute to the bond of brothers!” he says, “And we are so excited that Lazy Dog is going to be one of the first to serve it!”
Introducing the newest edition to the Benziger legacy, Tribute, a bright and crisp Sauvignon Blanc with bold tropical notes of mouthwatering citrus, grapefruit and pineapple, complemented with floral aromas. Sur lie aged in neutral barrels for the perfect amount of texture and complexity, this refreshing white has become an instant house favorite.
Recommended Pairings: Thai Chicken Salad, Shrimp + Grits or the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna
words + photos by Rebecca Simms, creative director
childhood photos courtesy of the Benziger Family
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