Benovia Winery: Hidden Gem
Heading west on bumpy Piner Ranch Road in Santa Rosa, a driver must remain alert not to miss a turn off on
Hartman Road, a single paved lane that travels through acres of vineyards. There is no indication that you are
eventually going to dead end at Benovia Winery. Upon arrival, however, a new entrance signifies the recent
emergence of Benovia Winery and you will be quickly enamored with the excellence of the wines. With only
two vintages in release, Benovia is still a secret to many avid pinoaficionados.
Benovia Winery is a well-funded venture spearheaded by a group of businesspersons headed by Joe
Anderson, whose Arizona company, Schaller Anderson, Inc., is a successful third-party administrator for health
insurance. Joe has a passion for fine wine and has committed significant resources to producing extraordinary
wines. The winery manager is Bob Mosby, PhD, a psychologist and business consultant who formerly lived in
Phoenix, Arizona. Bob is a long time wine enthusiast who first worked crush at Williams Selyem in 1989 and in
later years at Brogan Cellars. The veteran winemaker is Michael Sullivan, a graduate of California State
University of Fresno who previously gained a reputation for refined Pinot Noirs at the Hartford Family Winery in
Forestville (Photo below shows Michael, the Benovia forklift butt, weighing incoming grapes at this year’s
harvest). The vineyards are managed by well-known viticulturist Daniel Roberts, PhD (“Dr. Dirt”), who is
overseeing renovation of existing estate vineyard properties including the Martaella Vineyard adjacent the
winery, and directing all new planting projects.
Benovia Winery is the owner of the Cohn Vineyard from which it produces a vineyard-designate Pinot Noir.
The Cohn Vineyard was planted in 1975 to Martini 13 and Pommard clones and was in neglect when acquired
in 2005. Extensive work has resurrected this heritage vineyard. Another vineyard-designate Pinot Noir is
sourced from the Savoy Vineyard in Anderson Valley. The winery’s Sonoma Coast blend is sourced from
estate vineyards and family growers in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. The Bella Luna bottling
represents a composite of all the sub-regions of the Russian River Valley (Green Valley, Middle Reach and
Laguna de Santa Rosa). An estate property near Freestone is currently undergoing development.
In addition to Pinot Noir, Benovia Winery produces superb Chardonnay. Accounting for 25% of the winery’s
production, Benovia Chardonnays are sourced from cold, coastal sites in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma
Coast. A Zinfandel from the Cohn Vineyard completes the portfolio. The wines are sold through a mailing list
at www.benoviawinery.com. Tours and tasting are available by appointment (707-526-4441). Inquire about
small quantities of remaining 2007 vintage wines. A fall winery Open house will be held at the winery on
November 7 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and an Open House at the Phoenix, Arizona home of Joe Anderson
and Mary Dewane will be held November 15.
2007 Benovia Cohn Vineyard Sonoma County Pinot Noir
A problematic vintage as a fire at the vineyard burned leaves and very little
crop (0.38 tons per acre) ripened.
Moderately light garnet color. Alluring heady aromas of
berry jam, spiced cherries, juicy fruit gum and a hint of oak. On the palate the
flavors are exotic with slightly tart dark Pinot fruits, savory green herbs and a touch
of sweet oak. Light on its feet with supple tannins and bright finishing acidity
2007 Benovia Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $45. Spring release (some availability in the retail
Bright, juicy and perfect for drinking now. Sublime melange of fresh-picked berries and cherries on
the nose are echoed in the flavors. Slippery tannins and perky acidity makes this wine a perfect food partner.
2007 Benovia Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
352 cases, $55. Clones 113,115, Martini 13, Pommard and Calera.
has the whole package. Bright aromas of black cherries, herbs and
Provencal spice. Delicious core of cherries, raspberries and cranberries with
a tasty touch of vanilla cream. Soft and sensual in the mouth with substantial
but caressing tannins, a refreshing spark of acidity, and a ridiculously long
aromatic finish. Still somewhat shy and will reward further patience. Plenty of Pinot
2007 Benovia Bella Luna Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 181
cases, $58. The name Bella means “beautiful together” and represents a special
blend of several vineyards from the Russian River Valley.
Very charming nose of
black raspberries, forest floor, wine cellar and a hint of smoke. Generous core of
black cherries and black raspberries with a hint of citrus, framed by fine-grain
tannins and offering a huge fruity finish. Still reserved and elusive, but
approachable now. This one aims to please.