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Benovia Winery - A Sonoma Wine Country Jewel

Benovia Winery - A Sonoma Wine Country Jewel

September 15, 2013


Sonoma County has so many gems but clearly one of the sparkling jewels in its tiara is Benovia Winery. Benovia's main property is located just a little west and north of Santa Rosa where the winery and visitor's center sit in the middle of lush vineyards in the Russian River Valley Appellation (RRV AVA).

Benovia is the love child of Joe Anderson and his wife Mary and wine-making partner Mike Sullivan. They are passionate about what they are about and that passion is reflected by everyone associated with the winery.

Like the wineries name, a derivation of Mary and Joe's father's first names (Ben and Novian), Benovia is a family of passionate people bound together by the excitement and love for what they are building together.

Joe purchased his first vineyard, Cohn Vineyard, near Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley in 2003. Cohn was planted in 1970 and produces wonderfully intense fruit. For the first few years, Joe and Mary were growers providing Pinot Noir grapes to now iconic powerhouse Kosta Browne Winery. In 2005, they bought another vineyard with a winery on it in Santa Rosa. Joe needed a winemaker to grow the business and in the process of finding one, he found something more, a partner with a passion for Chardonnay.

Mike Sullivan, a native of the Russian River area, honed his skills at Hartford Family Winery for eight years as winemaker. What he achieves at Benovia are wines that express their vintage, their terroir and, of course, their individual nature rather than trying to achieve the specific characteristics of a named varietal. By doing this he hopes (and succeeds) in producing unique luxury wines with amazing textures and flavor profiles.

In 2008, the partners purchased a beautiful 58 acre property which surrounds their 2005 purchase in Santa Rosa. They named the vineyard, Martaella, by combining the first names of their mother's (Martha and Eleanor).

Shortly after purchasing the property they planted 42 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. What makes Martaella Vineyard special is the high density vine planting technique employed by Benovia. This results in over 2,000 vines per acre, which is significantly higher than most California vineyards. Counter-intuitively, root density increases with vine density (rather than competing) and thus uses irrigation water more efficiently and thereby uses less water. It also requires special equipment to fit in between these tight rows (4-5' apart). Benovia acquires their specialized equipment from Italy.

Benovia sources grapes from their own estate properties in the RRV, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Mountain as well as from growers there and the Anderson Valley. All these locations possess prime terroir for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel.

As a smaller winery, between 5-7k cases annually, they are focused on the production of their luxury wines. Regular tasting hours are not maintained so you'll have to make an appointment. They are available virtually any day by phoning in advance at 707-526-4441 or by e-mail via If you really want to make it a wine country experience check out their Vineyard Hideaway Cottage in the middle of Martaella Vineyard which is available for rent.

Make it a priority to experience these special wines and get a sense of why their tagline, "People Producing California Wines With Passion" is so perfect. Review the List to see why Benovia has such glitter.