Sonoma Mountain AVA | Organic Overview

AVA Essentials

Tasting Rooms & Events

AVA Essentials


• Sonoma Mountain, in the town of Glen Ellen, rises 2,400 feet above Sonoma Valley; this giant hill—largely wild— is a mecca both for hikers and for wine growers, who treasure its hillside soils

• The AVA is surrounded by the Sonoma Valley AVA except for a small portion which borders Bennett Valley AVA to the north

• Native peoples in the area called it Oonapais

• The area around Jack London State Park, where the famous writer lived, was first planted to vines in the 1850's; in the 1870's, the site thrived as the very successful Kohler & Frohling winery, making brandy, port, sherry and Zinfandel

• Today, vIneyards on its east flanks, facing the Mayacamas, are well known for producing fine Cabernet

• Estate wineries with organic vines: 2

• Organic vineyard acres: 109 (out of 663 total in the AVA)

• Organic vineyard case production: 5,200


Tasting Rooms & Events

AVA Essentials


Tasting Rooms & Events

Tasting Rooms & Events

Tasting Rooms & Events



Walk in

Benziger Family Winery

Laurel Glen Vineyard (weekdays)

By appt.

Benziger Family Winery

Laurel Glen Vineyard (weekends)

Organic Vines: Acres

Organic Vines: Varieties

Tasting Rooms & Events


• Murray Ranch (grower): 50

• Benziger Family Winery: 36

• Laurel Glen Vineyard: 14

• Topolos Vineyard (grower): 5

• Feingold Vineyards (grower): 4

Organic Vines: Varieties

Organic Vines: Varieties

Organic Vines: Varieties


• Cabernet Franc

• Cabernet Sauvignon

• Grenache

• Malbec

• Merlot

• Petit Verdot

• Petite Sirah

• Sauvignon Blanc

• Zinfandel

Organic Vines: Cases

Organic Vines: Varieties

Organic Vines: Varieties


• Benziger Family Winery: 3,800 (out of 125,000)

• Laurel Glen Vineyard: 1,400 (out of 3,000)

Benziger Family Winery | Sonoma Mountain AVA & 3 More AVA's | Glen Ellen




• Sources estate wines from its 100 acres of biodynamic estate vineyards in four appellations across Sonoma County and buys grapes from organic and biodynamic growers; it also buys grapes from dozens of non-organic California growers

• The winery is on a site above Glen Ellen (near Jack London State Park), a picturesque wine country village

• The tasting room complex features outdoor exhibits on biodynamic farming and plentiful picnicking options; tasting includes walk in wine bars and special tasting areas available by appointment

Best known for

• A large producer, Benziger's a pioneer in bringing organic and biodynamic practices to Sonoma County nearly 20 years ago

• Makes 16 Demeter certified wines from biodynamic vines ($31-85) with the highest rated 92 pts.; its signature wine is Tribute, a Bordeaux blend, made from its Sonoma Mountain estate

• Its other notable wines are its Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs from the De Coelo vineyard in Freestone

• The winery's popular with wine tourists for its extensive biodynamic exhibits, vineyard tram rides and tours of its 85 acre Sonoma Mountain estate and wine caves

• Founder Mike Benziger purchased the property (a former pot farm) with the help of his father, Bruno, in 1980 and ran it with his siblings

• The Sonoma Mountain site was formerly the Wegener Ranch, the source for the white wines neighbor and famed writer Jack London drank with dinner each night; a park dedicated to London is near the winery

• In the 80's and 90's Benziger took a pro-active approach to sustainability, bringing state of the art water saving practices and green farming to its own estate and upping standards for the vineyards it buys grapes from; it converted its growers—with hundreds of acres of vines—to eco- friendly practices

• In the late 1990's, Benziger became intrigued by the extraordinarily high quality of the biodynamic grapes he was buying from Jim Fetzer in Mendocino; he then hired Fetzer's biodynamic consultant Alan York to bring the same farming practices to Benziger's Sonoma estate vineyards

• In 2000, Benziger became the first winery in Sonoma County to be certified biodynamic; it's been an evangelist and educator to both consumers and the industry since then

• The vineyard managers are veterans Joaquin Corona and Lalo Avalos along with Jeffrey Landolt

 Lisa Amaroli is the director of winemaking; she's been part of the Benziger winemaking team for 20 years

• In 2015, the Benziger family sold the winery to The Wine Group, which pledged to maintain employees' jobs and to continue certified organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking practices

 Benziger's signature Tribute wine, a Bordeaux blend, won a Double Gold at the recent SF Chronicle Wine Competition and a 91 pt. rating from Robert Parker; its estate Pinot Noirs are also receiving critical acclaim

Wine & Spirits selected Benziger Family Winery as one of the Top 100 Wineries in 2013 

• The winery was once again voted "Best Tasting Room and Best Tour" in 2018 by the Sonoma People's Choice Awards

Organic and biodynamic vineyard case production

• 8,000 cases (out of 125,000 total)


Estate vineyards and winery, organic, 2000, CCOF; biodynamic, 2000, Demeter USA

Bottle labels its certified wines ("Made with Organic Grapes," "Made with Biodynamic Grapes" or "Biodynamic Wine")

Estate Vineyards - Details

• Russian River Valley AVA: Bella Luna (9 acres), Pinot Noir

• Sonoma Coast AVA: de Coelo (22 acres), Pinot Noir

• Sonoma Mountain AVA: Benziger Ranch (36 acres), Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel

• Sonoma Valley AVA: Sunny Slope (32 acres) and Imagery Estate (4 acres), Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot


• Eco Terreno, organic,  2018, CCOF; biodynamic, 2017, Demeter USA

• Moon Mountain District vineyard (name unpublished), organic, 2013, CCOF

• Sangiacomo vineyard, organic, 2010, CCOF




Certified Organic and Biodynamic Grapes

Certified Wines: "Made with Biodynamic Grapes" or "Biodynamic Wine" (depending on the vintage)

Made with Biodynamic Grapes

Russian River Valley AVA:

• Pinot Noir -Bella Luna

Sonoma Mountain AVA: 

• Bordeaux Blend-Tribute 

• Cabernet Sauvignon-Appellation Series-Solstice Blend

• Red Blend-Joaquin's Inferno

• Sauvignon Blanc-Paradiso de Maria

Sonoma Valley AVA:

• Bordeaux Blend-Etta's Blend

• Bordeaux Blend-Oonapais
• Cabernet Sauvignon-Obsidian Point

• Cabernet Sauvignon-Signaterra-Three Blocks

• Cabernet Sauvignon-Sunny Slope

• Red Blend-Calabazas Creek-Stone Farm Vineyard

Biodynamic Wines

Sonoma Coast AVA:

• Chardonnay-De Coelo

• Pinot Noir-De Coelo-Arbore Sacra

• Pinot Noir-De Coelo-Camena

• Pinot Noir-De Coelo-Quintus

• Pinot Noir-De Coelo-Terra Neuma

• Pinot Noir-La Reyna

• Rosé- De Coelo


Certified Organic Grapes

Certified Wines: "Made with Organic Grapes"

Carneros AVA:

 Chardonnay-Apple Hill

• Chardonnay-West Rows-Sangiacomo

Moon Mountain District AVA:

• Cabernet Sauvignon (Moon Mountain District AVA)

Certified Organic and Biodynamic Grapes

Alexander Valley AVA:

• Sauvignon Blanc-Eco Terreno Vineyard 

Visiting | What to Expect | Contact



Tasting bar (walk in)


Biodynamic vineyard tram tour (walk in or by appt.)


Pinot Noir tasting with organic and biodynamic selections (by appt.)


Tour and tasting (by appt.)


Private lunch and tasting with a Benziger family member (by appt.)

Note: Since the organic and biodynamically grown wines are 7% of the wineries' production, ask to taste them on your visit.

Benziger Family Winery

1883 London Ranch Rd.

Glen Ellen, CA 95442


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Laurel Glen | Sonoma Mountain AVA | Glen Ellen




• Sources grapes for its estate wines from its 14 acre, dry farmed vineyard on Sonoma Mountain; it also purchases non-organic grapes from a neighboring vineyard for other wines

• The wines are made in Windsor

• The tasting room is in Glen Ellen, a charming wine tourist village just north of the town of Sonoma

Best known for

• One of Sonoma's top Cabernet Sauvignon producers, growing mountain grown Cabernet on a prized hillside site

• Makes two wines from certified ($30-125) with its best Cabernets rated 94-95 pts.; a third wine contains 80% organic grapes

• Planted as early as the 1880's, the estate vineyard is located on a sunny site above the fog line on the east side of Sonoma Mountain at an elevation of: 800-1,000 feet

• The soils are complex, shallow (18-30"), and rocky, consisting of marine sediment overlain with volcanic soils

• Some of its history remains intact on its six acres of rare, head trained, old vine Cabernet, dating back to plantings in 1968 and 1978

• Abandoned by the mid 20th century, the Laurel Glen vineyard was revived in the late 1970's by Patrick Campbell, who launched the brand and made sought after Cabernets from the 1980's through the mid 1990's

• In 2011, proprietor Bettina Sichel, descended from a long line of vintners, bought the landmark property with the goal of restoring the wines to their former glory as some of California's finest Cabernets

• Sichel brought in top tier talent, hiring Phil Coturri, Sonoma's premiere organic vineyard manager, to revitalize the vineyard, and Randall Watkins, formerly winemaker at Carmenet

• Sichel is the fifth generation in her family to be in the wine industry; her father made Blue Nun famous in America and she herself worked for top Cabernet producers, including Napa's Quintessa, where she was director of sales and marketing for 10 years, before coming to Laurel Glen

• Uniquely the winery makes a rosé from a few rows of old vines (mixed blacks) 

• Wine critic Jon Bonné praised Laurel Glen's Cab comeback, categorizing it in a list of leading Cabernet wineries under the heading "Legends, Revived"

Organic vineyard case production

1,400 (out of 3,000 total)


Vineyard, organic, 2014, CCOF




Certified Organic Grapes

 Cabernet - Estate

• Rosé

Note: Laurel Glen's Counterpoint Cabernet, is about 80% from organic grapes.

Visiting | What to Expect



Current release tasting (walk in on weekdays; by appt. on weekends)


Tasting of older vintages (walk in on weekdays; by appt. on weekends)


Vineyard tour and tasting (by appt.) 

Note: The winery has announced plans to open a second tasting room in Windsor in November of 2019.

Laurel Glen

969 Carquinez Avenue

Glen Ellen, CA 95442


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