Wine On!

Benziger Vineyards Family Winery, Kendall Jackson and Fransican Vineyards

July 2016


The Benziger’s vineyard is the work of human’s and nature working together in harmony producing amazing wines, olive oil and a family business that touches everyone’s heart that visits their amazing biodynamic estate in Glen Allen, CA.


Owner, Rick Freedman with Nancy Hawk, Rose Ann and Frank Santorelli and Laura Cavaluzzo enjoyed being on property August 2016 to learn more about this family vineyard as it aligns with Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchens food philosophy.

Our tour began with Jill Benziger, Consumer Trade and Outreach Liason, a young vibrant and KNOWLEDGEABLE member of the family. There is nothing like hearing family stories so candid and endearing from a family member that feels loved and appreciated.  There wasn’t an aspect of the business Jill couldn’t share something about.

Our Partners tour included a behind the scene tour of the wine cave and sampling wine while enjoying the amazing insectarium.  We visited with their cattle and sheep and admired their wetlands where they recycle millions of gallons of water.

Benziger provided a private wine tasting of exclusive wines and wines that are being considered for the next menu change in January.  You will not be disappointed with any of their wines.

Their wines carry sustainable, organic and biodynamic certifications.  Animals and beneficial gardens play an important part in their Biodynamic farming techniques. Their sheep, cattle and insectory all are vital part of their ranch, as it is home to numerous plants and bugs that are critical to the health of their vines.

BenzierInsectoryIn the insectory, they grow fruits and vegetables for local restaurants, mainly The Glen Ellen Star. They also grow plants that attract beneficial organisms (bugs) that kill other organisms that are harmful to their vineyards. They also grow Valerian, Camomile and other herbs and teas that can be used in their Biodynamic preparations.

Their water recycling program literally turns water into wine….it’s a tough, dirty job but someone has to do it. Numbers vary depending on farming practices, but for now let’s use the local statistic of 3-5 gallons of water = 1 glass of wine. That’s a lot of water. Using their innovative constructed wetland and pond treatment system, they’ve saved nearly 2 million gallons of water per year.

We highly recommend perusing through their website, arranging a tour and visiting Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen in the near future to enjoy their wine with us.

Balancing exercise with wine tasting with Sonoma Canopy Tours.

Kendall Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens is another family vineyard creating a true legacy in Fulton, CA.  They provided amazing pairings for us to enjoy several of their wines.  They were busy making 200 pies in their kitchen for an event the next day, but still managed to prepare the tastings so well, we asked for seconds on a little sandwich nosh.  It looks like we had seconds on wine based on our smiles below!

KendallJacksonSmilesThe following pairing basics provided from Kendall Jackson’s website.  For a complete list:


(partial list below)

Taste may be everything here at Kendall-Jackson, but food and wine pairing need not be rocket science. Use these simple guidelines to pair confidently!

Choose Similar Flavors
Similar food and wine flavors complement each other.
Example: Sole with lemon sauce and Sauvignon Blanc both have citrus flavors.

Choose Similar Weight and Texture
Similarly weighted food and wine complement each other. Food and wine can be light, medium or heavy-bodied.
Example: Lobster and Chardonnay are both medium-weight and rich so they complement each other.

Choose the Same Sweetness Level
Wine should be equal to or higher in sugar than the dish.
Example: Roasted pork with apple glaze pairs beautifully with Riesling.

Salt Needs Crispness
Crisp wines balance salty flavors.
Example: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc balances salty olives and feta cheese.


The Franciscan Vineyards also provided a lovely wine tasting ans we are grateful to be partnered with them at Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen.



“Our home estate is located in Oakville, right in the heart of the Napa Valley. Our 240-acre parcel of prized land features loamy, gravely, well-draining soil which adds great structure to our wines. Our location in the center of the Napa Valley allows our Bordeaux varietals to enjoy the cooling marine influences while still receiving plenty of sun and heat. When you combine our location with dry-farming techniques, the vines produce smaller, concentrated fruit, which builds wine of good structure, body, and texture. This optimal blend gives our fruit the ability to maintain its vibrancy and ripen to its full potential.

With this unique balance of terroir and climate we knew Oakville was the ideal place to start our legacy; this was confirmed in 1975 when the very first vintage of our Napa Valley Cabernet was released. The results spoke for themselves – this was a distinctive wine of character and place. It was the first vintage to be released that included fruit from the Oakville estate. This was prior to our esteemed neighbors Opus One, Swanson, Silver Oak, and Groth. Oakville had officially landed on the map as a powerhouse district for Napa Valley Reds and Franciscan Estate had helped blaze the trail to make it happen.”

To learn more about the exquisite vineyard tastings and reserving lunch, go to and tell them Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen sent you!