At Benovia Winery, we embrace the time-honored philosophy
that it takes great vineyards and great people to make great wine.
Each of our wines is handcrafted to showcase the uniqueness of our
estate vineyards or to explore diverse expressions of Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay from select vineyards in the Russian River Valley
and beyond. Our winemaking team is a group of accomplished
professionals with some 150 years of combined experienced led by
Benovia Co-owner & Winemaker/General Manager Mike Sullivan.
It Starts in the Vineyard
In the vineyard, our goal is to know each vineyard block and its
special qualities, to attentively meet each vine's needs, and to
promote optimum ripeness and flavor development. Every day, Benovia
straddles the line between innovation and tradition.
We have made a significant financial investment in upgrading our
vineyards with the latest farming and irrigation technology, but we
rely more on knowledge, instinct and experience to handcraft
Benovia's exceptional, high quality wines. At harvest time, Mike
Sullivan can be found in the vineyards, tasting the grapes and
making the critical decisions on when to pick and when to wait. The
grapes are harvested at night or early morning to ensure that they
arrive at the winery in peak condition.
In the Winery
The process of creating Benovia's flagship Pinot Noir wines
begins with careful and attentive hand labor. The grapes are
conveyed to the destemmer with a sorting table. Each cluster is
inspected by hand prior to destemming. A second sorting area allows
us to inspect each berry after destemming. Nothing goes into the
fermentation tank that isn't ideally ripe and free of debris. Pinot
Noir is a delicate grape, and needs to be treated gently to produce
wines with power and finesse.
After a pre-fermentation maceration of five to eight days, we
allow the indigenous yeast to complete fermentation and encourage
very long, slow malolactic fermentation. Employing the full
knowledge of fermentation science, we can control quality without
too much handling, preserving the character of the wine.
After settling, the juice (now called "must") is moved to French
oak barrels to ferment at a cool temperature for approximately four
to six weeks. The barrels are inoculated for malolactic
fermentation, and the lees are stirred weekly until the process is
complete. This method helps the malolactic fermentation, integrates
the new oak, and builds body and structure in the wine.
Our Chardonnay grapes follow a similar process with the same
care and feeding in the vineyard and gentle handling at the winery.
After hand-sorting, the clusters are transferred directly to press.
Whole cluster pressing helps minimize the amount of harsh malic
acid and astringent tannins that naturally exist in the skins,
seeds and stems from entering the wine.
The Zinfandel grapes we grow at our historic Cohn Vineyard are
also harvested whole cluster, sorted, destemmed, and then berry
sorted before going to press.
Our wines spend 14 to 16 months aging in French oak barrels
until they are ready to be bottled and labeled at our winery.
"What I love about winemaking is that perfection is
unattainable," says Mike Sullivan. "Winemaking is about the journey
and not the destination."