On Saturday, July 8th, Audry dropped me in San Francisco where I was able to meet up with my family to begin the second leg of my journey. My brother, George, is the official driver of the RV we rented to drive us around Northern California and Oregon. Juliana, my sister-in-law, is the navigator extraordinaire. My mom, Fiona (my niece), and I are the happy campers, gummy bear tasters and overall back seat ruckus rousers. 

Saturday was our meet up and load up day. We hit the road for real on Sunday morning working our way through Sonoma Valley towards Lassen National Park. We made a long pit stop at the Benziger Winery for a tasting and a tour. 

The Benziger Winery is a biodynamic winery. The for the past 22 years, the l 85 acres have progressed from organic to biodynamic. 

Biodynamics is essentially the most purest form of organic farming and in this case, wine making. The process is biologically friendly with many levels of diversity to achieve growth and harvest of the grapes. Our guide, Patty, told us the Winery uses insects, natural predators, plants, and trees to attract pollinators for the grape vines. The same balance is utilized to prevent pests and diseases. Here’s a picture of three houses. An owl house, bat house, and blue bird house. 

Simultaneously, the winery uses compost procedures and manure from the 60 sheep and 2 cows  on the premises to keep the soil healthy and full of nutrients for the grape vines. The sheep are also used to “mow” between the vines and their hooves help to aerate the soil. The winery also recycles the water for irrigation. 

Our first tasting was during the tour. It was the 2015 West Rows Chardonnay – Signaterra. Buttery and not too much oak. 

The grapes are hand picked preventing bruising and damage. 

Instead of traditional methods of crushing the grapes, a high speed camera and laser imaging enables imperfect grapes to be pulled out and only the very best grapes remain. Fermentation then occurs in these large and well insulated vats. 

Barreled wine is stored in caves constructed by the winery. The caves are 28,000 sqft and naturally maintain 60 degrees / 70 % humidity. The white oak  barrels are used because they offer the perfect density for aging their wine selection. 

2014 La Reyna Pinot Noir – it was ok. 

2013 Oonapaus Sonoma Mountain Red – One of Juliana’s favorites. 

2013 Three Blocks – My favorite!  

We purchased two bottles of yummy deliciousness. One was consumed with lunch. Fresh fruit, local bread, and olives. 

The second bottle was saved for tomorrow…