Benziger honored with national ‘Growing Green’ award

Local winemaker Mike Benziger, of Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, has been awarded a 2010 Growing Green Award by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which recognizes leaders and innovators in the field of sustainable food.

Mike Benziger, founder of Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, won in the new Water Steward category for his industry-leading methods of water use reduction and water recycling.

“At Benziger Winery, we consider water conservation a major priority in planning vineyards, growing grapes and making wine, and we’ve seen the quality of our grapes and wines increase noticeably,” said Benziger. “It’s good for the environment and the wine.”

With an innovative constructed wetland and pond treatment system, Benziger Winery recycles an average of 2 million gallons of water per year. The facility significantly decreases water inputs using new grape sorting technologies, water sensors and cover crops that reduce runoff.

Jonathan Kaplan of the NRDC said of the honorees, “The impact of their leadership goes far beyond their farms, inspiring consumers, growers, policy-makers and entrepreneurs.”

“This Growing Green Award reminds us to keep striving to be better stewards, managers and educators when it comes to our natural capital,” Benziger said.

To receive this award from NRDC, a group rooted in education and environmental action, is meaningful to him and my family, he said. “It’s only fitting that we share this award with the people that make it happen every day — Joaquin Corona, our Estate Vineyard Manager and Jose Ortiz, our Cellar Master, have both been with us from the beginning. They and their crews are the reason Benziger can grow high quality grapes and conserve the way we do. We thank them for being the backbone of our winery.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists.

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