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Family Bios

Benziger Family Bios

Click on the photos to learn more about our family.

Bob Benziger
Bob Benziger
Director of Customer Relations

In 1981, brothers Bob and Joe Benziger sold their successful wine shop in upscale Scarsdale, New York and moved west to help launch Benziger Family Winery. Initially responsible for wine distribution and sales, Bob built a critically important wine distribution network east of the Mississippi. Later, he turned his energy to managing sales on the West Coast and business development for the winery. Today, Bob is in charge of customer relations for Benziger Family Winery.
 

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Chris Benziger
Chris Benziger
Partner

Still in high school when the Benziger family moved from White Plains, Chris finished his senior year in the wine country. He went on to earn a degree in marketing from the University of San Francisco while spending summers, weekends and every spare moment working at the winery. He officially joined the Benziger Family Winery in 1993 as a brand manager. In addition to sales responsibilities, Chris also oversees the home ranch and its many farm related duties, i.e. shepherding the Benziger flock of sheep and cows, tending to the estate vegetable and fruit trees, and producing the biodynamic preparations for all our vineyards. Chris feels that the only way to communicate the quality of the wines he promotes is by having the soil from the vineyard in which he’s endorsing under his nails. The best impress a winemaker can leave on his wines are his footprints in the vineyards.

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Erinn Benziger Headshot
Erinn Benziger Weiswasser
East Coast Regional Sales Manager

Erinn is the daughter of Mike and Mary Benziger and the eldest of the third generation of Benzigers to work at the winery. She was just a year old when she moved to the family’s 85-acre ranch. Erinn graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in history and a minor in business. She then returned to the winery and worked in direct-to-consumer sales for three years. From there, Erinn joined the New York City-based sales team of Kobrand, an importer and distributor of fine wine and spirits. Erinn is currently based in New York, and is Benziger’s East Coast Regional Sales Manager.

 

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Mark Burningham Headshot
Mark Burningham
Vice President of Winegrowing

Mark Burningham received a bachelor's degree from SDSU in business management with an emphasis in marketing, and took various viticulture classes at UC Davis. Mark came to know Benziger Family wines while handling them for his wine distributing business in Santa Rosa. When he joined the winery in 1987, he threw himself into the development of the business with such Benziger-like zeal that he eventually became an unofficial member of the family. Today, as a partner and Vice President of Winegrowing, Mark works closely with Benziger's growers and is dedicated to farming for quality and flavor. Mark manages the grape supply for Benziger Family Winery's contracted vineyards, and the Farming for Flavors Certified Sustainable Grape Growing Program. 

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Mike Benziger
Mike Benziger
Winegrower, General Manager and Tribute Winemaker

"It's a life's work to make a wine that is ultimately connected with a place and the people who farm it," asserts Mike, who has worked in the wine business his whole life. Even while growing up in New York, Mike worked for his father, Bruno Benziger, a wine and spirits importer. After college, he moved to California and began working at the fine wine shop Beltramos. His appreciation for wine grew and led him to a winery apprenticeship in 1978.

"I learned the wine business at the foot of the master," Mike reflects. "I was fortunate to have great mentors. When you learn in this way, you learn more than information--you learn respect and reverence for wine and vine."

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Kathy Benziger Headshot
Kathy Benziger-Threlkeld
Partner

The youngest of Bruno and Helen's seven children, Kathy first came to work at the winery when she was a high school freshman. Soon after, she was pruning, picking, bottling and working in the tasting room. Kathy learned about the wine industry from the ground up and decided to make her mark in the business end of the operation by earning a degree in management from Sonoma State University. She then worked in sales positions at ADP in New York and Hoffman Distributing in New Jersey, preparing her for a move back East, where she would be the Benziger eastern region sales manager for 12 years. Today, Kathy lives in Sonoma with her husband Todd and is in charge of customer development in the sales and hospitality departments.
 

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Tim Wallace Headshot
Tim Wallace
President

A graduate of Brown University and the Harvard Business School, Tim went on to work with the Time-Warner International Division in New York and the marketing division of American Home Products Corp. In 1988, he and his wife, Patsy Benziger, moved west. Now, he serves as president of the Benziger Family Winery, overseeing all aspects of sales, marketing, finance and operations.

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Joe Benziger Headshot
Joe Benziger
Winemaker - Imagery Estate Winery

In the early 1980's the Benziger family migrated west from New York and started a winery on Sonoma Mountain. After a few years of helping his family make large production wines for their Glen Ellen brand, Joe decided that there were some vineyard lots that were just too good to get lost in a big blend. He set out to showcase these special vineyard sites in a series of small artisan wines.

As Imagery evolved under Joe’s direction, the emphasis on limited-production wines adapted to focus on lesser-known varietals. As he discovered rare wines, Joe became passionate about unusual grapes and the Barbera within was unleashed.

 

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