Russian River Valley's Benovia Winery wins Wine, Beer + Spirits Industry Awards for 2018
A Sonoma County native, Mike Sullivan grew up with wine in his veins and learned the craft from some of the North Coast’s winemaking legends.
At 18 he was working with Richard Arrowood, the first winemaker for Sonoma Valley’s Chateau St. Jean when it launched in the mid-1970s. Sullivan then went to Fresno State University for an enology degree, working in his family’s vineyard, Four Brothers, during summers.
A while after graduation in 1993, he was hired as assistant winemaker to Helen Turley at Landmark Vineyards in Kenwood and then went on to work for nearly four years at Chappellet in Napa Valley. As head winemaker at Hartford Family Winery in west Sonoma County for over eight years, the closely followed review publication Wine Advocate named him Wine Personality of the Year.
Benovia owners Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane were power players in health care before diving into wine with the acquisition of a Russian River Valley vineyard in 2002. Three years later, they partnered with Sullivan to launch the brand and release the first wines.
“I only have one job: to create wines that capture the essence of this place and this time, and for me, no wine reflects its place and time more than pinot noir,” Sullivan said.
Benovia was named Winery of the Year last year by reviewer Prince of Pinot. Recent vintages have garnered accolated from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.
While the October 2017 wildfires were blazing through the North Bay and Sullivan was overseeing the harvest, he lost his home to the flames.