A love story in wine, Benton-Lane Winery founders Steve and Carol Girard grew up in California’s Bay Area, and were both raised by wine loving parents. The Girards are high school sweethearts and shared their passion for wine, in Napa Valley where they learned how to care for vineyards, make fine wine and founded their first winery, Girard Winery together. Girard Winery is one of the finest producers of Petit Sirah in the world.
Following some time in Napa, the Giards began to search for a great location to make world class Pinot Noir. Finally, after studying for years, they decided on a 12 mile long area on the foothills of the Willamette Valley Coast Range. This is where they discovered Sunnymount Ranch, an old sheep ranch near the village of Monroe. Sunnymount Ranch had gotten its name over 100 years ago due to Prairie Peak to the west that protected the ranch from winter storms. The land sloped gently to the east so potential vines could catch the morning sun. The ranch was above the valley fog but below the windy hill tops. The ranch is set on Jory soil, and was centered in the middle of Willamette Valley where milder weather allowed earlier ripening and more consistent high quality for grape vines. They purchased the 1,860 acre property in 1988 and planting of Pinot Noir commenced the next year. Steve and Carol’s first Benton-Lane wine was produced in 1991, which their friends and family helped consume. Benton-Lane’s first vintage was 1992 which was custom produced at another local winery. Their vineyard now has142 acres planted to Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.
I recently had the chance to review their new release wines and was highly impressed. Check out their delicious 2015 Pinot Gris (WWB, 90), as they have crafted a bright and rich wine that shows remarkable poise considering the heat of the vintage. The best wine I tried was the 2014 Benton Lane; ‘First Class’ Pinot Noir (WWB, 92) which belongs in any first class cabin. Delicious, seductive and flat out delicious, this wine has wonderful weight, intensity and range of flavors. Learn more about these fantastic wines and the Benton Lane story at https://benton-lane.com Here are the great new releases by Benton Lane.
2015 Benton Lane Pinot Gris- This highly impressive new release Pinot Gris begins with bright aromatics of starfruit, kiwi, and cantaloupe. There are flavors of red delicious apple, star fruit and hints of white peach. This has incredible minerality and poise from this hot vintage. Drink 2017-2023- 90
2014 Benton Lane Pinot Noir- This lovely Pinot Noir wine begins with aromatics with ripe strawberry, guava purée, red raspberry and hints of suggestions of wild mushroom. There are ripe flavors of red cherry, guava, pomegranate and cranberry with forest floor. This shows wonderful minerality and poise from this hot vintage. Drink 2017-2027- 90
2014 Benton Lane 'First Class' Pinot Noir- Thisgorgeous wine opens with aromatics of black tea, black plum, black cherry and suggestions of black truffle oil. There are rich flavors of black raspberry, black tea, black cherry, Mandarin orange rind, forest floor and black truffle crudo. This has wonderful intensity and richness, as this will cellar well into the next decade. Drink 2017-2029- 92