Celebrating 25 Years!

September is always an exciting time as it is typically the beginning of Harvest Season at Benziger Family Winery.  This year it is extra special to the history of our Sonoma Mountain Ranch as it marks the 25th anniversary of the Biodynamic Tram Tour at the winery, one of the most notable winery experiences in Sonoma Valley. Introduced in 1994, our Tram Tour was created to show off our greatest asset- our unique property! At the time we had no idea what a success it would turn out to be, but we have now toured over 1 million guests over 25 years.  We have garnered recognition as the Best Winery Tour by Sonoma Valley People’s Choice sponsored by the Sonoma Index Tribune for 5 straight years. We were also recently included in the list of Best Winery Tours by USA Today’s 10Best! Biodynamics hadn’t been introduced to our ranch when tours began in 1994, but we were very focused on sustainability and saw the tour as an opportunity to provide education on our green farming practices. “Farming for Flavors,” our Certified Sustainability program, is still one of the most comprehensive sustainability programs in the country. Learn more about our green farming practices here. The true goal of the tour program was to create an experience for guests that went beyond the tasting room.  We wanted to immerse them in the natural environment of the land and help them understand the complexity of the Sonoma Mountain property and how it made our wines exceptional. This remains our number one goal. In the early days, the tour was offered 4 times a day and lasted nearly two hours. That is, unless Mike Benziger was your tour guide, then who knows how long you’d be out there! While there were a couple dedicated tour guides on staff, Benziger family members would often step in to conduct tours throughout the day whenever needed. Guests were treated to their first stop at the Parthenon, a structure that was here when the Benziger’s bought the property. They were offered a splash of sparkling wine while overlooking the property, a component tasting of Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Chardonnay and Sonoma Mountain Red, the cousin of the Biodynamic wine still offered on our tour today, our Oonapais Red Blend. As our winemaking process evolved into Biodynamics with the release of our Estate grown Biodynamic wine, Tribute in 2001, our tour evolved as well to what it looks like today. With the introduction of our caves, the tour was fine-tuned to give a full educational overview of the grape growing process, winery production facilities including barreling and cellaring to wine tasting. Visitors were now able to follow the full process of a working winery from the vineyard to the bottle. Further, at one of just a handful of Biodynamic vineyards in North America. We recently sat down with the very first Tram Tour Guide, Nate Reynes, who now manages the tour program at Benziger which also includes our more intimate Tribute Tour.  He reflected on how much has changed over the years, however, the overall goal is still the same.  “Showcase the property, educate our visitors on sustainability and winemaking, and of course, enjoy amazing Benziger wines.” As for retiring? He ensured us that isn’t happening anytime soon. “I love my job, I get to interact with people from all over the world and share my love for this farm. Why would I retire?” Join us August 30th-September 30th for a Biodynamic Tram Tour and enjoy a special 25th Anniversary tasting menu including our 2014 Tribute which received 91 points from Robert Parker, Wine Advocate!