The Bio-Dynamic gardens of Benziger Winery offer a perfect day in Wine Country, with a self-guided Biodynamic Discovery Trail that takes its inspiration from biodynamic agriculture: a movement associated with philosopher and founder of anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner. The Trail melds ornamentals, edibles and insectary plants, with demonstration stations describing the farming practices Benziger employs on its 85-acre Sonoma Mountain ranch land.
Especially eye-catching – a flow form water feature exhibits an aerating, recirculating vortex pattern.
Soon after the new demonstration area opened, I toured the estate with Colby Eierman, director of sustainability. It was a chance to see first-hand the integration of sheep, cows, and chickens in the vineyards. In the complex topography of the site, sheep do a great job of mowing under the vines, and on the steeper slopes.
On the east facing slope of Sonoma Mountain, a lovely arrangement is revealed in the terraced construction, creating a variety of habitats amid plantings of lavender, echiums, bottlebrush, and groves of olive trees.
There is land set aside for insectary habitats to attract the ‘good bugs,’ and edible gardens teeming with herbs, veggies, and fruit trees; providing fresh organic ingredients to the chefs at El Dorado Kitchen – a Sonoma destination restaurant.
All of which contributes to the health of the organism that is the larger farm system. Grounded in holistic methods, the Biodynamic farming at Benziger affects the soil in distinctive ways, coloring the flavor of the grapes and the quality of the wines. Book the Vineyard’s Tram Tour to enjoywine-tasting, and get an up-close look at the landscape and gardens, barrel caves, and more.