Benevolent Neglect is one of the hottest boutique wineries in California. This small lot producer is known for making very interesting wines, all with minimal intervention, sourced from some of the state's foremost winemaking regions.
Owner Ben Brenner and winemaker Matt Nagy (you might know him from his 100 point bottles at Seaver Vineyards) are East Coast transplants pursuing their passion project -- crafting exceptional wine -- in Napa.
Ben and Matt will be available to meet our event guests on June 8.
I caught up with Ben and he gave us a bit of insight into the soul of Benevolent Neglect.
How did you arrive at the name Benevolent Neglect and what is the philosophy behind the label?
The name Benevolent Neglect refers to both the best way to farm the vines and the best way to make the wines. We try to find vineyards that are meticulously farmed but also forced to struggle all the way through the ripening process. This "benevolent neglect" makes the fruit more intense and flavorful. In the cellar we rely on the work done in the vineyard to make wines using as little intervention as possible. So both sides of our business are tied into this philosophy.
How do you describe your winemaking style?
We consider ourselves "minimal intervention" and in almost all ways "natural" but we struggle with defining what that means so we tend to avoid using the term.
Which varietals are particular favorites of yours?
Our first wine was Las Madres Vineyard (Carneros AVA) Syrah in 2013 this vineyard has become a second home for us and will always be our flagship wine. That being said we are quickly falling in love with our Alder Springs Vineyard Counoise and our Bengier Vineyard Ribolla Gialla. The lesser known varietals are always close to our hearts.
Tell us about some of the places where you source fruit.
We source from all corners of northern and central California. We’ve been expanding our scope over the last few vintages to include the central coast and Carmel Valley which is very exciting. The majority of our vineyards are certified organic or at least practicing, and we focus on finding growers and vineyards that are better than they should be from areas that aren"t as well known as Napa/Sonoma. We have vineyards in Mendocino, Lake County, Calavaras County and Lime Kiln Valley as well as in Napa and Sonoma.
What is something you'd like a wine novice to know about your wine? How about a “seasoned” aficionado?
Our motto is “Drink it and Like it.” We make wines that are affordable and approachable to the wine novice that may not know the grape but will enjoy the wine. We also produce wines such as Riesling, Ribolla Gialla, Mouvedre and Counoise that the "seasoned aficionado" would be familiar with all from vineyards (Nelson Family, Bengier Family, Fore Family, Alder Springs) that carry a reputation that would appeal to the nerdiest somm types.
We love making these wines and nothing makes us happier than getting to see people enjoy them.