All Benziger vineyards are farmed sustainably, organically or biodynamically, and Benziger has created programs to get partner growers certified in one of these practices.
Benziger began growing grapes the usual way in the early 1980s, but soon realized that conventional farming created poor land and that more expressive fruit might be achieved by doing things differently. Today, every Benziger vineyard is farmed sustainably, organically or biodynamically. In addition to this, starting around 2001, Benziger created an approach that its partner growers could use to move their own farming practices toward sustainable, organic or biodynamic certification. Benziger’s certified sustainable program is unique--one of the most efficient and productive such programs in the country.
This basic level of green viticulture shows an awareness of the need to preserve the environment, promote biodiversity and maintain soil health by minimizing the use of chemical treatments, among other approaches. Stellar Certification Services is the monitoring body for Benziger’s sustainable certification.
Many of Benziger’s partner growers strive for organic certification when they see the effects of sustainable viticulture on their land and fruit quality. Organic grape growing takes sustainable practices a step further. It forbids the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and promotes methods that support the cycle of nature and renovation of the land, such as crop rotation, tillage and natural composts. Benziger’s winery is certified organic by Stellar Certification Services and its organic growers are certified either by Stellar or CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers).
Alan York is one of the country’s leaders in biodynamic farming. In the mid-1990s, as Benziger was transitioning away from conventional farming, York helped Mike Benziger begin to restore the vineyards’ natural balance. Today, all four of Benziger’s estate vineyards are Demeter-certified biodynamic, an intensified form of organic farming. Biodynamics views the vineyard as a single organism and promotes a close, personal connection to the land. Chemical treatments are forbidden; Benziger relies instead on composting, natural predators, cover crops and biodiversity below and above ground. Flowers, insects, birds, cows, sheep and chickens all play a part in this approach at Benziger—each has a job in maintaining the cycle of life on and in the land. Benziger is one of only a handful of Demeter-certified biodynamic vineyards in North America.
The Benziger Label
Benziger's committment to environmentally friendly farming practices is reflected in their label, which shows the four archetypal classical elements (Earth, Water, Air and Fire) using their anceint Greek symbols.